Tokyo Tower Japan

You are here

Japan just got brand new banknotes – featuring a world first hologram design

5th July 2024

What does this change mean for travellers?

Moshi moshi? The future is calling. And no, cash is not a thing of the past – especially in Asia where cash still reigns supreme. In fact, it’s even got a very futuristic upgrade: a 3D hologram technology where the heads of historical Japanese figures turn!

So, given the immense popularity of Japan among tourists, let’s break down everything you need to know about the new Japanese Yen

Why is Japan getting new banknotes?

Japan redesigns banknotes every 20 years as an anti-counterfeit measure. The last time we saw a change was way back in 2004 – the same year the first Nintendo DS came out – so it’s once again time for a change.

As of July 3rd, Japan has released new ¥1,000, ¥5,000 and ¥10,000 notes with beautiful new designs celebrating Japanese achievements in capitalism, women’s equality, and scientific innovation.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, told reporters at the Bank of Japan: “I hope the people will like the new bills, and they will help energize the Japanese economy.”

*Fun Fact: Japan also has a ¥2,000 note, however this has been left out of the redesign as there are still large reserves of the ¥2,000 bill at the Bank of Japan to circulate instead.

But isn’t the world going cashless?

“Although the world is moving toward cashless interactions, we believe cash remains important as a way for safely settling payments anywhere and anytime,” says Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda.

Cash is still incredibly important in many places around the world, and especially so in Japan. The majority of transactions in Japan are cash, and you’ll need Japanese Yen in banknotes and coins for things like street food vendors, small restaurants, small businesses, markets, vending machines, festivals and more… especially so in the more rural areas.

That being said, Japan is slowly getting more and more card-friendly, so if you're planning on hitting up the more famous tourist areas (shopping in Tokyo, anyone?) you can also take a Travel Money Oz Currency Pass prepaid travel card loaded in JPY

Can I still use old Japanese Yen notes?

Absolutely! The current and old Japanese Yen banknotes are still accepted and will continue to be accepted according to the Finance Ministry.

In fact, the old Japanese Yen notes might even be handier for the time being, as street vending machines, ticketing machines at restaurants, and some bus fare machines are expected to take a little while longer to be updated to accept the new banknotes.

Not to worry though - the majority of banks, railway stations, convenience stores (konbini), and supermarkets will have finished updating their machines by now, so you can spend any new banknotes you have there!

Will Travel Money Oz be getting new JPY banknotes?

Yes we will - but not just yet.
The new banknotes are still being pushed into circulation, and so hasn't arrived in store yet.
But stay tuned - we'll let you know once they've arrived!

What are the new features of the new Japanese Yen design?

There are a few standout changes for the new Japanese Yen design, from holograms, to new historic figures, famous artworks and symbolism, and changes to help the visually impaired.


The portraits of the historical figures featured on the new Japanese Yen notes appear to turn their heads depending on the viewing angle!
On top of this, the hologram patterns will also change depending on the viewing angle – as shown in this diagram above (banknote images from the Bank of Japan).
This is a counterfeit prevention technique believed to be the first in the world.

Larger Numerals

To help the aging population, tourists unaccustomed to the currency, and people with visual impairments, the new design has a much more prominently displayed value in Arabic numerals.
The new notes are also more visually different, with different placements for the values, new shapes for the hologram windows, and the colours also are more distinct, to make it easier to distinguish the notes from one another.

New Historical Figures and Artworks

We’ve broken it down below by note:

New ¥10,000 note: Eiichi Shibusawa

The new face of ¥10,000 yen note features famous industrialist Eiichi Shibusawa – a key figure in building Japan’s modern economy, and  known as the “Father of Japanese Capitalism.”
Following the Meiji Restoration, Shibusawa found success as a high-ranking official in the Ministry of Finance before becoming a renowned businessman, helping to establish more than 500 companies in his time, including the famous Sapporo Brewery, and Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, as well as Japan’s first National Bank (now known as Mizuho Bank). He was a pioneer in banking, introducing joint-stock corporations and double-entry bookkeeping to Japan, and created the predecessors of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Tokyo Chamber of Commerce. Shibusawa was also a strong advocate for education, helping establish multiple schools – including women’s higher education with Japan Women’s University.

The reverse side of the ¥10,000 yen note features the Tokyo train station building.

Think of Japanese Yen in terms of cents rather than dollars… meaning, move the decimal place (or just cover up) the last two zeros and you have a rough equivalent in dollars!
So, for the ¥10,000… if you take off the last two zeroes, it’s roughly $100 AUD (depending of course on the exchange rate at the time).
Plus, it has that tint of green - similar to the Aussie $100 bill!
While it’s not an exact science, it helps give a framework to do those mental calculations and keep track of your spending overseas.

New ¥5,000: Umeko Tsuda

The new face of ¥5,000 yen note features Umeko Tsuda – who famously paved the way for Japanese women’s education. When only six years old, Tsuda’s father sent her to the United States as one of the first female students from Japan to study abroad. She lived with a host family in Washington DC until she moved back to Japan at 18 – experiencing intense culture shock at society’s prejudice against women. Finding work as a tutor, Tsuda was dismayed by the way education curriculum framed women to become ‘good wives and mothers,’ and devoted the rest of her life to improving women’s opportunities to receive higher education – going on to found one of the first private institutions for higher education in Japan: then known as Joshi Eigaku Juku. Now known as Tsuda University, it is considered one of the best universities in Japan. 

The reverse side of the ¥5,000 yen note features wisteria flowers – a cherished flower beloved for centuries, bringing good luck, kindness, and longevity. It’s also said to ward away demons!

Using the same tip from before, cover the last two zeros and you can see it’s roughly $50 AUD. 


New ¥1,000: Shibasaburo Kitasato

The new face of ¥1,000 yen note features scientist Shibasaburo Kitasato – a Nobel-prize nominated physician and bacteriologist who was instrumental in the field of infectious disease prevention. Kitasato was the first person in the world to grow a pure culture of tetanus, and he helped produce a treatment for the disease alongside German physiologist Emil von Behring. They also developed antitoxins for diphtheria and anthrax. For this work, both were nominated for the first Nobel Prize in Medicine, however the prize only went to Behring.

The reverse side of the ¥1,000 yen note features one of the most famous woodblock prints in art history: In the Well of the Great Wave off Kanagawa by Ukiyo-e master Katsushika Hokusai.

Using the same tip from before, cover the last two zeros and you get the approximate equivalent of a $10 note! Plus, it’s blue, just like an Aussie tenner.

And that’s the yen-d.

If you need to grab Japanese Yen yourself for an upcoming trip, it’s an incredibly favourable time to buy right now (read this blog for the low-down, but note that the rate has gotten even better since then!).
Head in store or order online today!

Published 05/07/2024. This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.  While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you.  We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.