disclaimer: I have only been to certain areas in Japan and I have studied only in the Kanto area. A lot of the places to visit will be based on areas I have traveled to on my own.
Question: What should I do about money?
A lot of things.
1) Already have yen exchanged
This is a good thing to do. If your school has not arranged pick up at the airport you will need to pay for transportation to the school or wherever they need you to be at. A good amount is about 50,000yen (approx: $650). If you budget your money well enough, it should last you close to a month. Though your first month in Japan, you will be buying things like crazy. I know I did XD *coughs* But it did last me a month.... Also, make sure you have some sort of home currency with you as well. When you go back home you might have to pay fees and what-nots but this will be explained in another entry :P
2) Traveler's Checks
OMG. This was a HUGE life saver for me while in Japan. Stores, the post office, hotels, and banks do cash these in for money. They also tend to give a better rate than when using cash (especially American money for some reason...).
3) Money Source from Home
If you have a debit card and need more money, this will come in handy. My parents would deposit money into my account every month to make sure I had money to spend. This is the cheapest way to wire money to someone (other than paypal :P). Make sure you have someone (parent, grandparent, legal guardian, etc...) back home that has permission to deposit money into your account. It is a nice reassurance to have. Especially if you do not have some sort of way to get income in Japan on your own means. HOWEVER Make sure you have overdraft protection! Depending on your bank (but usually) you get charged a high fee for taking out too much money from your card. For more information about overdraft, talk to your bank. Also very important: MAKE SURE YOUR BANK KNOWS YOU ARE LEAVING THE COUNTRY PRIOR TO LEAVING FOR JAPAN. You will get contacted about fraud or something if you do not let your bank know. So make sure you do this before you leave~
Question: What if I run out of yen? D: What do I do?!
So you have just run out of yen in your wallet. You are probably thinking "Oh fuck. What am I gunna do!?" I know when I first ran out of money I panicked. The first thing I did was rush to a bank. Normally you would think it would be okay right? NOPE! Not in Japan.
So, what do you do? If you have a Japanese bank you are safe. You can go to almost any ATM and you are fine. Though, what if you do not have one? What do you do? If you have an American credit/debit card (or any other countries one), you are not in trouble! There are a few places you can go and you are fine ^^
As a foreigner from the US you are probably like "WTF?" but hey, this place is heaven! First off, they have a HUGE variety of food and drinks to get. Also, if you are in the Tokyo area they are pretty easy to find. You can even get concert and movie tickets from this place! And like most conbini, you can even pay for your bills. 7-11 is full of win! (Will talk about more in another entry.). As a foreigner, what makes 7-11 perfect is their ATM. If you have a VISA or a Master Card, you are in luck. They do not charge that much of a fee for taking out money from your international card. It is about a 2% conversion fee!! They also give a pretty high amount for your money when converting it into yen. For more info, follow the link to their Japan page below!
2) Japan Post Office
If you are planning on sending out packages and letters, this is the place to go! They have everything you need here for that. However, I will talk about this in another entry. The main reason to go to a post office when in needs of cash is the ATM. This ATM accepts nearly all credit cards from all countries. However, the exchange rate sucks and the percent they charge you for converting sucks. Also the charge for taking money out is rather high. If this is the only place you can withdraw money from, make sure you take out all that you need and make sure you keep track of how much. Overdraft fees are NOT fun. (Will mentions those at the end of the entry). So be careful!
3) Any Japan Bank
... Yes I know I said do not go here but sometimes, you can be lucky. When I went to a Japanese bank and used their ATM to withdraw money it didn't work. However, one of my friends was lucky and was able to get some money. I think overall this depends on your card/bank back home. If you are in the Tokyo area, Yokohama Bank is your best friend. Their exchange rate is pretty decent and fees are low as well. However, YB is not very common.... You can mainly find this bank in the Kanagawa region and in lower Tokyo.
This is it for the money section! If you need anymore information, please do not hesitate to PM me and I will try my best to message you back ASAP! ^^ Next entry: TRANSPORTATION