“Electronic money service” in Japan is surprisingly “unfriendly to visitor from foreign countries”. First, accessibility is often bad, as getting the electronic money card itself is complicated for visitor from foreign countries, what even worse is that it can be used only with a specific service (for example, transportation service only).
e-money to avoid having many coins
On the premise of hosting the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, various trends are emerging in Japan, including facilitating services for foreign customers. Cash has been dominating to be used for shopping, eating and whatever necessary to stay in Japan, rather than electronic money and credit cards, but recently this situation has been changing, at least as far as in the urban area, more and more services is becoming available for cash-free payment methods. Imagine going to abroad without expertise knowledge in the local currency, which lead to frequent use of paper bill even in the case of shopping with small value, as a result, people get tons of coins in wallet. This is the typical case which can be solved by introducing electronic money (e-money, hereinafter). Let’s have a look about which places accept e-money payment:
1.Convenience store & Some Japanese Fast food chain
Convenience store has no problem because it can use both electronic money and credit card in most shops, including Seven-Eleven, FamilyMart, Lawson, etc.
However, when it comes to places where you can use e-money in restaurants serving lunch sales, it is actually quite limited. In the meantime, the first thing to be think is “Tenya”, famous for the tempura-don (rice bowl) chain, Suica / PASMO is now available as payment method. Another place “Fuji soba” standing eating soba chain is open 24 hours, has also installed Suica compatible vending machines. The famous fast food chain Yoshinoya, serving beef bowl quickly with reasonable price, is cash only, unfortunately. Instead, there is another fast food chain we can find called “Matsuya” where you can use Suica.
2. At Curry Shop
For Japanese “curry” and “ramen” lovers, notice that many of the stores that can eat these two accept “only cash payment”. In “curry shop C & C” which most of stores are concentrated around the center of Tokyo, e-money can be used at almost all shops. In addition to this, “Royal host” is also compatible with Suica payment, and has a curry menu people can enjoy various type of curry. For curry lovers who enjoy Kokoich’s curry, only the store at Suehirocho intersection in Akihabara corresponds to both electronic money and credit card, as that’s the place where tons of foreigners come to visit everyday, it is only store accept “electronic money”, “credit card”, and “CUP card (UnionPay)”.
3.For Ramen lovers
Most of the ramen shops with delicious noodles are privately owned, which means e-money and credit cards often cannot be used. In the chain stores such as “Hidaka store” and “Kokurakuen”, serving “Ramen” with low unit prices, the payment can be done only with cash. However, sometimes, Suica can be used if the ramen shop is located in the station building. So, there is “Tokyo Ramen Street” which gathered about six famous ramen shops in the Yaesu North Exit basement of Tokyo station. At “Taiko” of Tonkotsu Ramen, one of those shops, we can use Suica with the ticket machine at the entrance and got on the seat to eat, just like fast Soba chain “Fuji soba” mentioned above.
Good to know about e-money
E-money is very convenient when you get used to it. You can charge online at any time if you have the mobile app from the suppliers; you can buy lunch box and drinks at the station’s shop using e-money for a long traveling time. In fact, there are relatively many stores and facilities are compatible with specific e-money services, such as “Tokyo Ramen Street” which is often seen at airports, has store both at Narita Airport and Haneda Airport.
SUICA, prepaid IC card for transportation and shopping, is probably the best card to have for visitors. It is originally designated as the IC Prepaid ticket for public transportation around Tokyo area. It has been enhanced functions to use for shopping and other services. Now, people can use Suica everywhere in Japan.
To get SUICA, you just go to the station and find Machine to sell ticket and SUICA (IC Card). There should be a menu to buy IC Card. Select the menu, input your name, select how much you charge, then insert bill(s). To be smarter, some credit card incorporates with SUICA. If you are making Credit card in Japan, select credit card with SUICA. With that, you can charge SUICA from credit card without bill, you can set “automatic charge” function that can charge to SUICA automatically with the amount you set when rest of amount reaches to the bottom.