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How do you pay at a restaurant in Japan?

How to Pay at a Restaurant in Japan


Japan is known for its unique traditions and customs, and this extends to the way people pay at restaurants. While credit cards and cash are widely accepted, there are also other payment methods that are specific to Japan. In this article, we will explore the different ways to pay at a restaurant in Japan.

Traditional Payment Methods

In Japan, it is common to pay with cash, especially for smaller transactions. Many restaurants will only accept cash, so it is important to carry enough yen with you. In addition, some restaurants may have a tray or small wooden box near the entrance where you can place your payment before leaving.

Japanese Snack Box

Another traditional payment method in Japan is the use of prepaid cards. These cards, such as Suica or Pasmo, can be loaded with money and used at restaurants and other establishments that accept them. They are particularly useful for those who do not want to carry cash or who plan on using public transportation.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted in Japan, especially in larger cities and tourist areas. However, it is still a good idea to carry some cash with you as some smaller establishments may not accept credit cards. It is also important to note that some credit card companies charge foreign transaction fees, so it is best to check with your bank before traveling.

Mobile Payments

Mobile payments are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, particularly among younger generations. Two of the most popular mobile payment services are Line Pay and PayPay. These services allow users to link their credit card or bank account and make payments using their smartphones.

Foreign Currency Exchange

If you do not have enough yen with you, most major airports and tourist areas have currency exchange services. However, it is important to note that these services may charge high fees and offer unfavorable exchange rates. It is best to exchange currency before arriving in Japan or to use an ATM to withdraw cash.


Tipping is not customary in Japan and may even be seen as rude. In fact, some restaurants may refuse tips altogether. Instead, it is best to show appreciation by saying “gochisosama deshita” (thank you for the meal) at the end of your meal.

Splitting the Bill

Splitting the bill is not common in Japan, but some restaurants may allow it if requested. However, it is important to note that splitting the bill evenly is preferred over individual payments. If you are dining with a group, it is best to discuss payment arrangements before ordering.

Service Charge

Unlike some countries, Japan does not typically include a service charge in the bill. However, some restaurants may charge a seating fee or a cover charge. It is important to check before ordering to avoid any surprises.


Japan has a consumption tax of 10%, which is typically included in the price of goods and services. Some restaurants may also add an additional service charge or cover charge, so it is important to check the bill carefully.

Vending Machines

In Japan, it is not uncommon to find vending machines outside of restaurants where you can purchase tickets for your meal. These machines typically have pictures of the menu items and prices, and you can use them to select and pay for your meal before entering the restaurant.


There are many different ways to pay at a restaurant in Japan, from traditional cash and prepaid cards to modern mobile payments. It is important to be prepared and have enough yen with you, especially if you plan on dining at smaller establishments. By following these tips, you can enjoy your meal without any payment surprises.

Do you pay at the table in Japan?

At most restaurants, other than upscale ones, payment is made at the cashier counter instead of at the table. In smaller cities and towns, cash is the preferred method of payment for restaurants and stores, so it is advisable to carry cash in case credit cards are not accepted.

Are you supposed to tip at a Japanese restaurant?

In Japan, it is not customary to leave tips and attempting to do so may lead to an uncomfortable situation. The idea is that when you dine or drink at an establishment in Japan, you are already paying for the good service provided.

Should you leave a tip when you pay the bill at a restaurant in Japan?

Typically, tipping is not expected or practiced in Japan and can actually be seen as impolite or offensive in certain scenarios. Instead, customers usually pay for their meals directly at the register rather than leaving money with the server.

What is the dining etiquette in Japan?

Traditionally, the Japanese dine at low tables while seated on cushions placed on tatami floors. In formal settings, both genders kneel in the “seiza” position, while in more relaxed situations, men sit with crossed legs and women sit with both legs to one side.

How do tourists pay for things in Japan?

Although cash remains a popular payment method, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the use of digital and contactless payments. In large stores and restaurants, most major credit cards are accepted, but it’s important to note that in rural areas, shrines and other locations may only accept cash.

Is it rude to not tip in Japan?

In Japan, it is not common to leave a tip. The culture values dignity, respect, and hard work, and exceptional service is expected without the need for additional compensation.


When paying at a restaurant in Japan, it is important to follow certain etiquette. One of the most important things to remember is to always be polite and respectful to the staff. This includes saying “sumimasen” (excuse me) and “arigatou gozaimasu” (thank you very much) when ordering and paying.

Additionally, it is considered impolite to count your money in public or leave the table before paying. It is best to wait for the staff to come to you with the bill and then take care of payment at the table.


In Japan, receipts are often given with a small tray or envelope. It is common for customers to place their payment inside the tray or envelope and return it to the staff along with their thanks.

If you need a receipt for business or tax purposes, it is important to ask for one before paying. In some cases, receipts may be required for refunds or exchanges.

Language Barrier

If you do not speak Japanese, it can be helpful to carry a phrasebook or use a translation app on your phone. Many restaurants in tourist areas have menus in English, but some smaller establishments may not. It is also helpful to learn basic Japanese phrases such as “oishii” (delicious) and “kudasai” (please), which can make ordering and paying easier.

If you are having trouble communicating with the staff, it may be helpful to use gestures or point to items on the menu. Most importantly, remain patient and respectful, and the staff will likely do their best to accommodate you.

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