Last week Adam and I made a point of going to the bank to order ourselves some currency since my coordinator told me I’d most likely not have time to exchange money at the airport. We both had quite a bit of fun checking out each of the bills. For the moment, I’m enjoying the novelty. I know, eventually I won’t even look twice at the money just like I don’t pay attention to American money.
Let’s start with the biggest bill I have, the 10000 yen bill. Now before you freak out and ask me what the heck I’m doing with a bill that big or start asking why Japanese people in general need bills that big let me give a small explanation.
The Japanese yen is counted the same way that you’d count American money if everything was determined by how many pennies you have. An easy example of this is the one hundred yen coin or, in our way of thinking, the dollar. Same value just a different way of thinking about it. Our dollar is technically the same thing as having one hundred pennies we just don’t really think about it that way. Another easy way to find the relative American value is to simply subtract two zeros. Using that simple rule with my initial big bill 10000 minus two zeros equals 100. Much better? I thought so.
The next bill is the 5000 yen bill (subtract your zeros and what do you get that’s right it’s a 50).
Thirdly is the 2000 yen bill (I’m not doing math for you any more.)
Lastly is the 1000 (Seriously? There just zeros.)
Now you might be wondering what’s wrong with me. Why don’t I have any five hundred or one hundred yen bills? It’s for a very simple reason. They don’t exist. Instead of using paper to make these bits of currency, like we do, they use coins. I suppose I should point out that we also have a one dollar coin, but obviously not a five dollar coin. We aren’t being very efficient about this are we. Ah well that’s an entirely different topic better and more amusingly explained here.
I don’t currently have any coins, but I’m providing some pictures other people have taken of them down here. If you’d like to know about Japanese bank notes there is a wealth of information out there.