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Thursday, 26th February 2015
In General Japan News,

'Donki' to accept foreign currency

Popular Japanese discount store Don Quijote will start accepting foreign currency in a drive to cater to an increasing number of tourists visiting its shops, the management announced last week (February 19th ).

The chain, which is often fondly referred to as 'donki' by regular users, will accept Chinese yuan, Taiwanese dollar South Korean won, Thai baht and the Hong Kong dollar in an attempt to appeal to visitors from neighbouring countries in Asia.

In addition, visitors from Europe will be able to pay for items bought at their 'donki' with euros while American tourists will be able to use the US dollar without changing into yen, in what has been described as the first service of its kind in Japan.

The first Don Quijote stores to accept foreign currency will be those in the Tokyo districts of Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi, Ginza, Akihabara and Ueno, with shops in Kanagawa, Osaka and Hiroshima prefectures set to follow shortly.

It's also worth noting that only foreign bills will be accepted - coins in other currencies will not be, but customers can make up any shortfall in yen coins. The change will be tendered in yen.

Outlining the rules for the system, officials from Don Quijote said that they are accepting other currencies in response to an increasing number of foreign visitors to their stores.

"We have long heard our foreign customers say they want to shop in their own currencies, or that they want to use up Japanese yen more easily by combining it with their own currencies," said a spokeswoman from Don Quijote Holdings Company.

She added that China's UnionPay bank cards will now be accepted at all 262 Japanese stores in a bid to cater for a sizable increase in Chinese visitors making the most of the weak yen.

The surge in foreign tourist sales allegedly increased at Don Quijote's stores during October last year when the scope of duty-free items was expanded to include consumable goods including food, alcohol, cosmetics and drugs.

With the Japanese government aiming to drive visitor numbers up to 20 million over the next few years in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, the number of tourists keen to use their own currency in the country is only likely to increase. 

Japan's discount stores are somewhat legendary among visitors, with many choosing to buy unusual items in the 100 yen shops for the sheer experience of seeing what they can pick up.

Don Quijote certainly caters to this attitude, encouraging shoppers to "discover treasure" in its marketing strategy. The store has also attracted attention for building a rollar coaster on the roof of its eight-story Roppongi venue, but due to pressure from various groups complaining at the noise, it has never been operated.