Exchange Rates!

I have been so pumped lately because of the exchange rate. Thank you, Abenomics, for weakening the yen. As of current, the average rate is 120 yen to the dollar. That’s a whopping 20% more (on average). When I went to Japan for study abroad, the exchange rate was about 80 yen to the dollar. That was painful… 🙁

Because I want to take advantage of the great exchange rate, I’ve been giving as much money to my mom as I can afford, and she’s been exchanging it for me every so often. Why am I asking my mom to exchange it instead of doing it myself? Two reasons mainly:

  1. I’m not going to be flying out of DC, so there’s no reason for me to travel with that much cash on me. I’m mitigating the risk.
  2. Hawaii has a bomb exchange place. This isn’t going to apply for a lot of you, but for anyone who lives in Hawaii/will be vacationing in Hawaii before going to Japan/has a (long) layover in Hawaii, go to Pacific Money Exchange! It’s kind of sketchy (it’s just a window in Waikiki) but there are no service fees AND the kama’aina rate adds one yen per dollar to the current exchange rate!! (So if the exchange rate is 120 yen to the dollar, you’ll actually get 121 yen to the dollar… It adds up!)

But anyway, this exchange rate is great, and anyone heading to Japan soon, I’d recommend you exchange your yen now since I think it’s going to peak soon. (Not an economist. Do your own research as this is just my personal opinion!) But this means that you need less than $4,200 to get the recommended 500,000 yen!

For those of you currently in Japan looking to come home, I’m sorry for you… You’re probably feeling the complete opposite of how I feel right now. 🙁

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  1. Alaskans are screwed because only major national branch banks convert yen and we have no idea which city we’re stopping in on our way to Tokyo let alone if we’ll have enough time to convert to yen. This is probably one of the most nerve wracking problems I’m trying to tackle xD

    1. Oh really? So as of now you’re planning on traveling with USD? 🙁 When do you find out your flight details? Otherwise I heard that exchanging your yen at an ATM gives better rates than the airport if that’s any help at all… :/

      1. There’s two places in Juneau that do it, but I have to join that specific bank in order to be able to do it. I probably won’t go over with all of it, just enough to get by for a couple weeks then pull out from the ATM at 7-11 or the post office as I need it.
        We won’t find out our flight details until Late June to Early July sadly 🙁 You?

      2. Ohh, that makes sense! And it’s probably nicer not to carry a wad of cash (scary) while traveling! Using a card to withdraw is so much more convenient! Interac is still really sketchy about it, not giving a date yet so I’m going to guess around the same time!

      3. Yeah when I went over the past couple times it was really odd carrying so much around on me. I mean, I got used to it eventually with smaller amounts, but i don’t think I’ll ever get used to the wads of yen xD lol

      4. You know how most people say they spend less when using cash? I’m the complete opposite haha I’m trying to minimize the time I’m holding wads of yen as much as possible 😛

  2. Please forgive the 2-year late e-mail to your blog. I have really found it helpful in preparing for my study-abroad in Japan (although your adventure was with JET and was for much longer than mine will be). I was wondering if you knew whether Hokkoku Bank or Japan Post Bank were better. I have been told that there is not much of a difference, but, considering all of the tricks that you have learnt while abroad, I thought that it could not hurt to ask.

    I hope that your post-Japan life is going well!



    1. Hi! I apologize for taking so long to respond… I actually couldn’t figure out my login credentials whoops…
      Anyway, I have no personal banking experience with Hokkoku. But it is a regional bank, which would mean it probably provides better/more specialized services in the area it operates in. And if that happens to be where you’re also studying abroad, then perfect!
      However, if you plan on traveling within Japan (even just a prefecture away), it can be harder to find regional bank ATMs. When I studied abroad in Akita prefecture, I opened an account at Akita Bank. It was sweet because I got an Astroboy bank card, but when I went to Tokyo for a month, there was only one Akita Bank ATM in all of Tokyo! For ubiquity alone, I would lean towards JP. Plus a lot of Family Mart branches have ATMs in them, so you don’t need to worry as much about the pesky ATM hours.
      Another option to consider is Shinsei Bank. They have a lot of foreign accounts and you can get a debit card hooked up to your bank account from them (which you cannot with JP). If you have any other questions let me know. I’ll be able to respond easier now that I have my credentials again!

What do you think?