Currency, Exchanging Money, Credit Cards, Tipping, Bargaining, Costs...
The usual misconception is that travelling in Japan is extremely expensive. This is not true. Mind you, Japan is a highly developed country, and so of course it is not as cheap as Thailand for instance, or as India or Brazil. But it's not more expensive than developed country in the West either:
-- If you have not been able to find a place to stay for free (also check out www.globalfreeloaders.com and www.couchsurfing.com), you can find accommodation for ¥3,000-5,000 (~US$ 27-45). Options include capsule hotels [www.gojapan.about.com/cs/accommodation/a/tokyocapsule1.htm], minshukus [www.koyado.net/us/make.htm] and hostels [www.jyh.or.jp/english/index.html].
-- Have some soba or udon (noodle dishes) or donburi (a rice dish) for your meals (with a free glass of water or hot green tea!) for as little as ¥300-500 (~US$ 2.8-4.5), or get some of those sticky triangular rice balls (onigiri) with their delicious fillings from convenience stores for even less than that! And tipping is not common either; well, compare this with the 15-20% mandatory in the US!
-- Public transport is cheaper than in most European countries; prices start from ¥130 (~US$ 1.1) and a day ticket for the Tokyo subway network would set you back ¥1,000 (~US$ 9.1). Have you ever checked out the London tube rates?
-- Travelling by train is comparatively cheap if you get a Japan Rail Pass before you come to Japan (www.japanrailpass.net); these go for ¥28,300 (~US$ 260) for 7 days of unlimited travel on all lines (except the Nozomi Shinkansen Super Express), ¥45,100 (~US$ 410) for 14 days, and ¥57,700 (~US$ 520) for a 21-day pass.
-- All the shrines and temples still in common use and many museums are free, others charge as little as ¥300-500 (~US$ 2.8-4.5).
-- Public toilets grow on trees and are free of charge!
So don't be misled and visit this great country! Sebastian (username: woseik)