Yearning for Yen

I think I’m going to go to the currency exchange place in Harvard Square today to get my Yen for the trip to Japan. Foreign money, despite always feeling like play money (Monopoly anyone?) always fascinates me.

Canadian money is practically U.S. money (similar denominations, sizes and coins). Euros are fun to look at and are close in value to the dollar. British pounds suck and are confusing as hell (but they’re easy to convert to U.S. dollars since they’re essentially worth twice as much).

But the Japanese Yen are freaking weird compared to the currencies I’ve dealt with before. For example, converting $1 to British currency would be about 2 pounds (easy math). But the dollar is worth about 115 yen. So if I convert, for example, $500 I will end up with 57,750 yen. YIKES! It’s going to be so odd buying a simple meal and seeing the bill for 1,733 yen. I’ll just need to get used to the high numbers. It’s going to make for some complicated shopping. I may bring a calculator everywhere I go so I can tell if something is costing more than it should.

So, this year for Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the simply currency I get to deal with on a daily basis.


  1. Comment by Chris on November 22, 2006 1:06 pm

    What is their gratuity system like?

  2. Comment by Dave in Chicago (2) on November 22, 2006 3:59 pm

    Pre-Euro, … the continent would’ve driven you nuts! The Lira was about 1500L to 1USD. Then there’s the Dutch Guilder 3.5, Swiss France was 3.something, Belgian Franc 68F, Austrian Shilling was 21S to 1. It was fun, despite the math. I suppose the Euro is easier. Ah well, nostalgia…

  3. Comment by Steve on November 22, 2006 6:24 pm

    That kinda made my head hurt! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

  4. Comment by martinG on November 23, 2006 2:42 am

    Mr. Easy Math,
    $1 is about 0.5 Pounds.

  5. Comment by Will on November 24, 2006 11:12 am

    when I was in Turkey it was something like 120,000 Turkish Lira to the dollar. There were very few coins, and every bill or charge was rounded up or down to the nearest 10,000. Everyone assured me that by the end of the week I’d come out even. Since 10,000 lira was worth about nine cents, I quickly stopped obsessing.

    At least all these various foreign money systems are decimal-based now. When I was first in England, they were in the middle of the conversion between the old Medieval system (Guineas, Pounds, Crowns, Half Crowns, Shillings, Pence and the variations: ten Bob, Three-penny bits, etc.) and New Pence, 100 pence to the pound. I had to earn both systems to get around anywhere.

  6. Comment by Fred on November 27, 2006 3:17 pm

    Hmmm…in terms of the yen and things costing too much…it’s Japan: EVERYTHING is going to cost too much, no? Sounds like you can kinda roughly move the decimal point two places and be not too-ghastly-off the dollars to start with, then you have to adjust for the actual expense of things. For example, in Britain, all the prices look about right until one realizes they are in pounds, not dollars, so are essentially TWICE what one is used to…OUCH! I assume something similar will prevail in Japan – eek! Yeah, I don’t know a thing about their gratuity system/expectations, but that’s well worth knowing ahead of time – few places in the world tip so heavily as Americans, particularly gay male Americans, in my experience, anyway (had a Finnish friend who took HIGH umbrage at the whole notion…thought it was like bribery…).

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