Staring at huge stacks of money is a lot of fun, so here are a couple photos of two million yen. Japanese cash machines will allow a one million yen withdrawal, and up to two withdrawals per day. The tremendous disparity with American ATM limits is predominantly because Japan is traditionally a cash-based society.
Credit cards are becoming more and more prevalent, but most transactions are still handled with paper money. About 25 years ago, I started switching over to credit cards for most transactions for convenience, a month of free money, and ability to track expenditures; however, since moving to Japan, I rarely use credit. One reason is that using credit in Japan usually requires some rigmarole, and it turns out being more convenient to pay cash. Another reason is difficulties in making payments without transaction fees.
Watching professionals count money in Japan is a blast. Here we see a moneyhandler in action. She grabbed the bills just over 50 at a time, pinched them between her left pinky and (oh what a) ring finger, rocked the bills back and forth to fan them, folded them back under the left thumb and snaps them up with the right thumb. The right pinky is always extended, but I don’t know exactly why. Perhaps it is just an affectation, like sticking it out when sipping wine; however, I’m sure there is a mechanical reason for it. The rapidity with which she counted out four stacks of 50 bills each was quite impressive.