Unscrupulous Shops in Japan Target Tourists As Yen Weakens
The weak yen has made it more attractive than ever to travel to Japan — but some restaurants and stores are taking advantage of that. The latest on tourist scams in Japan and how to spot them.
By Kay Benton
On September 6, 2023, it took 147.65 Japanese yen to equal a single US dollar. This is the weakest the yen has been in 2023, and the trend shows no signs of reversing. After several years of roughly 110–120 yen equaling a dollar, rates began to tip in favor of the dollar in 2022. They have remained that way throughout 2023. 
Many US-based tourists have taken advantage of the current weak yen. , visiting Japan while their money goes a long way.
However, some Japanese stores have responded by raising their prices, often to unscrupulous levels. Several stores have begun to scam tourists by including “hidden fees” in their pricing.
Tourists encounter hidden fees
A recent article from local media cited several examples of tourists encountering unexpected fees or unusually high prices while in Japan. Reportedly, one restaurant served a single, possibly rotten, seafood donburi (rice bowl) for 6,500 yen (currently approx. $44 USD.) Another establishment, an izakaya — a restaurant designed for families and large groups to eat casually together — charged 95,000 yen (approx. $646 USD) to serve a family of four. 
The article also noted that many restaurants and bars that previously refused to serve non-Japanese speaking foreigners have changed their policy in recent years. Some of these locations have likely done so to use tourists as a source of “easy money.” Even locations that previously served tourists are looking for ways to recoup lost earnings caused by both the weak yen and a decrease in international travel in the wake of the public health crisis.