How to Use an ATM in Japan when You’re Travelling Alone

Japan is a country where we get to see the future. You may ask how. Well, it is because the country has taken such huge strides in electronic and technological development. Something that the rest of the world is yet to catch up on. When we talk about the futuristic aspect of Japan that is contrasted so perfectly with the traditional and historic slice of the country, it makes Japan a one-of-a-kind experience.

But Japan’s technology is not restricted to the museums where you can literally step into the future like the teamLab Borderless in Tokyo. It also trickles down to basic amenities in the country, like the Japanese toilet. Yes, it is indeed a technological wonder, and I think you can visit Japan just to unravel the mystery of it!

But for a country which is on top of all technological marvel, Japan is not a country that is digital when it comes to money. I found this odd that a country such as Japan could be so cash reliant. If you are travelling to Japan, you always need to keep some cash on you. Most restaurants in Japan accept cash payments, and even some shops are yet to go the cashless way. Also, unfortunately not all credit cards work in privately-owned restaurants, some Ryokan, and even hospitals.

Boon or bane?

Vending machines are extremely common in Japan. And if you are travelling on a budget, this saves a lot of money you would otherwise have to spend on food. And even if you are not, it is a great cultural experience for you. You can always exchange your bills in Japanese currency before travelling to the country. That eases all your problems. But on the other hand, it will cause a lot of stress because while Japan is quite a safe country, it is not always a good idea to carry a wad of cash around.  

So, as a female solo traveller on your visit to Japan, you have to be aware of where and how you can withdraw cash from ATMs. But fear not, because I will tell you how you can use ATMs while in Japan.

Before you travel

While planning your trip to Japan, it is always advisable to check with your bank what and how much you can spend while on your trip. This helps plan your trip better, and also, this is a precautionary measure. Remember, as a female solo traveller, it is best to have all your bases covered before you travel.  

Check the availability of ATMs in places you are travelling

While there are places in Japan that accept card payments, unfortunately, not all of them may accept the card issued in your home country. So just to be safe, before you travel to Japan, check if your card is accepted in the country. Even if it’s a cash-based economy, you will not find ATMs in every nook and corner of Japan. While all major cities have plenty of places you can withdraw money from, if you step off the beaten track, it might be a problem for you. If you have a pilgrimage, say along the island of Shikoku, or you are hiking on a trail, it will be difficult to have access to ATMs.

So, if you absolutely need to pay with your credit card here, do check if they accept it. 

Check the cap

Before travelling, remember to alert the bank of your travel and know the ceiling you are allowed to withdraw from every day or every week. The withdrawal limit is different in every bank. If you need to increase the limit, communicate with your bank immediately.

Withdrawal charges

Sometimes a charge is applied when you are withdrawing money from an ATM abroad. It is sometimes levied after each withdrawal and sometimes maybe after a stipulated number of them. So, get that cleared with your bank so that you don’t lose out on money there, and you can plan your withdrawals accordingly while paying the least withdrawal fees.

Check currency exchange spots

As we have talked about before, even though Japan is a safe country, it is not always feasible to carry cash around. Before you travel to the country, look up the places where you can get some of your home currency exchanged for yen. Also, check the charges and definitely if they are authentic. 

How to use an ATM in Japan

Well, this is no rocket science. It is the same as any other ATM around the world. Just insert your card here and select your preferred language. All the machines will have an option for getting your instruction in English, so that will not be a problem at all.

But where can we find the ATMs?

There are over 30,000 ATMs dotted all over Japan for the tourists. So let me give you a list of various banks and places you can withdraw money from while on your solo trip to Japan.

1. Japan Post Bank

Commonly called Yucho in Japanese, Japan Post Bank is the largest bank in Japan. They have the most ATMs across the country, which crosses almost 20,000. The kiosks can be found in the post offices in Japan. Cards that can be used here to withdraw money here ranges from VISA, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, etc. But if you are carrying a Discovery credit or debit card, some older Japan Post Bank machines may not accept it. The withdrawal per transaction here is 50,000 yen. But the problem with the ATMs at Japan Post Bank is that it is not available throughout the day, and if we have to withdraw cash after the post offices are shut, it becomes a problem. Also, Maestro cards will not be accepted at a post office bank, so if that’s what you have, hard luck for you. You have to look for some other ATM.  

The only place where you can access Japan Post bank ATMs beyond a post office’s working hours is located at some convenience stores and railway stations, and other central offices in major cities. But even these are unavailable on Sundays and for a few hours on public holidays. Quick fact: There is a Japan Post Bank ATM on Mount Fuji that you can access on your way up the mountain. 

Service hours: 0.05 am TO 11.55 pm (Monday to Saturday except for National Holidays), 7.00 am to 11.55 pm (The day after any National Holiday), 0.05 am to 9.00 pm (Sundays, National Holidays, and 31st December)

Withdrawal limits:50,000 yen per withdrawal.

Cards accepted:VISA, VISA electron, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus, JCB, American Express, China Unionpay

ATM Charges:A charge of 216 yen may be applied on each withdrawal. Charges may vary dependin on your financial institution. 

2. 7Eleven

One of the places that you can always rely on when it comes to withdrawing cash is convenience stores in Japan. Not only do you get really delicious and affordable food at 7Eleven stores that are dotted all over Japan, but you can also have access to the ATMs almost 24×7. The ATMs of Seven Bank are not at all difficult to locate in the store, just look out for the red coloured ATM. Most cards are accepted here like Visa, Maestro, Cirrus, Union Pay, American Express, and the likes. But unfortunately, sometimes, you may find the logo of your bank credit card printed on the ATM but find that it doesn’t work. Also, note that Mastercard is denied at these ATMs, so clear it out with your bank before you leave. 

When you access the ATM, you will see that they will ask you what language you want your instructions in. Choose English, and the kiosk will show you where to put your card. They will ask you if your card has been issued in Japan or elsewhere. Click on the latter, and then you can punch in what denomination you want. Also, most ATMs in Japan only cash in the denomination of 1000. So don’t expect change.  

And 7/11 ATM is my favourite of all…

Though the ATMs remain open almost throughout the day, there may be a 10–20-minute window around midnight when they will be unavailable. So, if you find that it is, you can wait for the system to jump back up. The withdrawal per transaction limit here is usually around 100,000 yen for international cards and 30,000 yen for selected American Express stripe cards. Apart from 7-Eleven convenience stores, the Seven Bank ATMs are also available at international airports like Narita, Haneda, and Kansai, some major train stations, and big shopping malls. If you are a little worried about using the ATM here, don’t worry, it’s not very difficult to navigate it and change the language to English. If you find that you are facing any problem, you can always take help from the ever-smiling and extremely helpful people of Japan.

Service hours: Open 24 hours for 7 days a week.

Withdrawal limits: 100,000 yen per transaction. 

Cards accepted: VISA, VISA Plus, Maestro, Cirrus, American Express, JCB, Discover, Diners Club. Unionpay

ATM charges: A small amount of charge may apply, but that is not absolute.  

3. Family Mart

Another extremely popular convenience store in Japan, Family Mart, is also another place where you can withdraw cash from the ATMs you find there. The kiosks here accept most international cards but not all. Cards like Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Union Pay, Cirrus, and JCB can be used to withdraw money here. The ATMs in Family Mart are E-net ATMs, and there are around 12,000 of them all over the country and almost 2100 in Tokyo itself.  

You can withdraw up to 100,000 yen here as well, while if you are carrying a magnetic stripe card, your withdrawal is capped at 40,000 yen. Also, because they are found in convenience stores, they remain open all the time.

Apart from Family Mart, you will also find these ATMs at Don Quijote in different outlets across the country. As a female solo traveller, Don Quijote is a must-visit store for buying amazing cosmetics at great discounts. So, two birds with one stone, eh? 

Service hours: Mostly throughout the day except for a few minutes around midnight.

Withdrawal limits: 100,000 yen. But 40,000 yen if you are carrying a magnetic striped card.  

Cards accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Union Pay, Cirrus, and JCB 

ATM charges: A small charge along with the charges levied by your bank.

4. Lawson

Though not seen as much as other convenience stores in Japan, this one does the trick in times of need. There are around 10,000 such ATMs all over the country, and most international cards will be accepted here. The withdrawal limit for a single transaction is 50,000 yen at Lawson, and like most ATMs, English is one of the options on the kiosk, so the navigation will not be a problem. 

But remember, when it comes to Family Mart, and Lawson, not every of their convenience stores will have an ATM. 

Service hours: Mostly 24×7. 

Withdrawal limits: 50,000 yen

Cards accepted: VISA, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus, UnionPay, JCB

ATM charges: Charges as per your bank.

5. Regular Banks

Apart from these unconventional places where you find an ATM in Japan to withdraw money, you also have regular banks. They have ATMs on their premises and also in independent locations. You can always look for them in shopping malls, stations, and the airport.

But to be fair, I found accessing ATMs elsewhere is easier than actual banks. First, because it is easily accessible and also because the kiosks here are sometimes too technologically advanced for me to understand! 

Be careful

how to use atm in japan

While withdrawing money from ATMs in Japan is absolutely safe, you can never be too careful. After all, you are alone in a foreign country. As the ATM is mainly not in a room, but rather if you are accessing ATMs in convenience stores, you have to be careful while entering your pin number. Always count the cash when you withdraw it, and definitely don’t forget to take the card back. If you face issues withdrawing money from an ATM kiosk and you ask someone to help you out, remember to hide your ATM pin from them. As they say, prevention is better than cure. 

But even though it seems that navigating through the world of Japan ATMs is an arduous task, it actually is not. So, don’t fret too much. Instead, just enjoy the country of Japan in all its glory. 


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

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