As I settle down on the back seat of the bus, I watch as my brother-in-law confidently gets on board and touches his Suica card to the scanner.

Beep beep. It’s rejected — lack of funds.

Not to worry. While he doesn’t speak the local language, this seasoned traveler isn’t fazed. He readies some cash instead. But a minor kerfuffle begins. I head to the front and ask the driver what the issue is. Looking relieved to hear some Japanese, he explains that the shiny new ¥500 coin that my brother-in-law has paid with is simply too new for his bus. It can’t be accepted by the machine.