When you travel to a foreign country, you need to consider payment options beforehand, especially when you decide to visit a country with a mysterious culture and history, like Japan.
Japan is, as you might know, one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of technology. So you might assume that everybody uses their credit cards even for buying a bottle of water. But that is not the case.
Japanese people mainly use cash, except for online shopping and buying expensive products. People always bring cash here, because that’s the way it is. And you can do it too.
Are you worried about keeping cash with you for safety reasons? Don’t worry. It is very safe here as long as you pay reasonable attention. For example at restaurants or cafes, you can see people leaving their bags on the table when they go to the bathroom, because nobody cares. Note that I’m not suggesting you do the same.
Also, although most of stores/restaurants accept credit cards (Visa and Mastercard are well accepted, AMEX is still not the best option), some small stores like the ones you can see in Kyoto and more importantly the ticket machines at train stations do not handle credit cards.
So it is up to you, but be sure to keep some cash with you all the time.
You can find much more useful and complete information in my Kyoto Guidebook which is now available on Amazon sites. Click here to buy the Kyoto Guidebook (ebook) on Amazon.com (You can find the Kyoto Guidebook on your local Amazon site).