The currency in Japan is yen (JPY, ￥). Banknotes and coins are easily identifiable. There are 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen coins, and 1000, 5000 and 10,000 yen banknotes. The 1 yen coin is made of lightweight aluminum while the 5 yen (known to bring good luck) and 50 yen coins have a hole in the center.
Cash or travelers checks can be exchanged at any "Authorized Foreign Exchange Bank" (signs are displayed in English) or at some of Kyoto's large hotels and department stores. Main post offices also cash traveler's checks. Rates vary little between banks, if at all (even the exchange counters at the airport offer rates comparable to those offered by downtown banks). In Kyoto, most major banks (including Citibank) are located near the Shijo-Karasuma intersection, two stops north of Kyoto Station on the Karasuma subway line.
Visitors to Japan no longer have to carry around large amount of cash -- withdrawing money is as easy as going to one of Japan's ubiquitous Seven-Eleven convenience stores. Japan's Seven Bank, related to Seven-Eleven, accepts foreign-issued ATM and credit cards. Cards displaying VISA/PLUS, MasterCard/Cirrus, American Express, JCB, Maestro, Discover, Diners Club International, or China Union Pay logos are accepted for yen withdrawal (handling charges are applicable). Language options for the ATM screen and receipts include English, Korean, Chinese, and Portuguese.
In addition, those with a Citibank account may withdraw yen from Japanese Citibank ATM's without incurring a surcharge. Details here. Foreign issued bank or credit cards are accepted at Shinsei Bank ATMs also for a slight transaction fee. One option useful for travelers all over Japan, including the countryside, is the Japan Post Bank. ATMs are located in most post offices throughout Japan, accept foreign-issued ATM and major credit cards, and have English menus.
Note that virtually no ATMs are open 24-hours a day in Japan, and withdrawals from foreign issued cards often must be made before 5:00 p.m.
Hotels, department stores, high-end restaurants and shops accept credit cards, while many of the smaller shops do not. VISA has the largest number of users followed by JCB and MasterCard.
The telephone numbers of their Tokyo offices:
Visa: toll free 006633-800-553, from abroad +1-303-967-1090
MasterCard toll free: 00531-11-3886
American Express toll free: 0120-020-120 24hrs.
Note, Japan is definitely a cash-based society, so having cash on-hand is highly recommended. You can withdraw money using your credit card at any post office ATM machines and at select banks.
Basically, not only is tipping unnecessary in Japan, but your attempts to tip will either be greeted with bemused expressions or utter confusion. Hotel bills include tips in their service charge. There is no tipping at restaurants, nor do you tip taxi drivers, although a small tip for bellhop services may be accepted.