Traditional banking where you go to a bank counter and are properly assisted by an employee is offered to you despite the language barrier, as there are numerous banks in Japan that offer English-speaking assistance from employees proficient in the English language.
English-speaking assistance, currency exchange services, or alternative services change based on whichever bank you decide is best suited toward meeting all your requirements and all your circumstances as a customer banking in Japan.
This guide explains everything there is to know about banking in Japan. From opening a bank account to choosing the best foreigner-friendly banks, we'll cover a lot of information to ensure that you feel confident when stepping into a bank in Japan!
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Opening an Account
What do I need to know?
The Japanese government allows you to pay off the fine for a traffic ticket at a bank counter and the majority of banks in the Japanese banking system offer currency exchange services that stay open beyond closing hours.
Both services are offered to customers who have and have not opened an account at the bank. If you want to use the standard services offered by a bank to a customer, ultimately, you will need to open an official bank account. An account at the bank is required for customers who would like to conduct their banking business using the standard services offered through a banking institution.
WHAT DO I NEED?
Opening an account in a Japanese bank will require following a legal process beforehand. The first requirement to opening an account is to prove your identity through an identification card; you will ultimately pay a small deposit of about $9.12 or ¥968.09 as well.
You will also need to use your residence card or your driver's license to prove that you are living in Japan. Only some banks allow you to use your driver's license. You could also bring a certificate of residence or a recent utility bill to prove this.
A working telephone number is also a requirement of some banks. The number needs to be valid and has to be able to receive phone calls.
The other requirement, and the final requirement for opening a bank account in the Japanese banking system, is a Hanko stamp or a signature to serve as proof of consent.
A Hanko stamp is an item traditionally used in Japan as a representation of your consent to an official document just like a signature is used in Western culture. Some banks may accept a signature if you're a foreigner. I recommend calling the bank beforehand and making sure that they do this practice before going.
There are a few avenues that you could go through to open your account: online, bank, or mail. If you do decide to open a Japanese banking account through a bank counter, you should be aware that not all banking institutions are actually in possession of a counter.
While this may sound unusual, not all banks in Japan possess bank counters. Some banks in the Japanese banking system operate entirely online through websites, apps, and ATM machines.
HOURS OF OPERATION
If you find a bank with one or more offline locations and choose the avenue of a bank counter to open your account, then you should also know that the standard weekday operating hours for a bank in Japan are from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Some banks in the Japanese banking system have exceptions to those operating hours, one of which is the Japan Post Bank. The Japan Post Bank continues to stay open during weekday operating hours from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. An account at Japan Post Bank will give you an entire extra hour for conducting your banking business. You can open an account anytime during those hours.
An exception to being allowed to conduct your banking business during the weekday operating hours from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM only occurs three times a year. The Japanese government designated a total of three days in the year as banking holidays, where the banks would be closed to customers.
You are out of luck if you plan on conducting your banking business on those dates: December 31st, January 2nd, and January 3rd. The online and mailing options are not limited to the standard weekday operating hours of 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, so that's also an exception to those hours.
If you need a more flexible schedule than the standard weekday operating hours for the Japanese banking system allows, then you can still choose to follow the other two avenues for opening your own bank account because those avenues are an exception to those hours.
I researched 5 different Japanese banks in order to better provide you information on how to open an account online and what you are able to expect from that specific avenue when banking in Japan.
Online Banking in Japan
What do I need to know?
Shinsei Bank has a user-friendly website that you may find helpful if you decide becoming a customer of Shinsei Bank would best suit meeting all your requirements and all your circumstances.
Shinsei Bank proves itself eager to welcome you as a potential member of their institution for banking on the homepage for the website. A detail I can recognize right away is the obviously placed buttons on the site where you can click to access a page on the website detailing all the important information on how to open an official banking account at Shinsei Bank, along with the services Shinsei Bank provides.
If you do not have a residency in Japan and do not possess a residency card, then Shinsei Bank will not allow you to open a new account. More specifically, you must qualify as a Japanese resident as defined under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act in order to open a banking account at Shinsei bank. Important information on how to open an account for residents of Japan actually is further down the page on the website and is written in a clear manner, designed to be convenient and friendly to users. The process is simplified using a step-by-step explanation that answers all of your questions.
Japan Post Bank, when compared to the website for Shinsei Bank, Japan Post Bank was not user-friendly because there was no obvious explanation on the site as to how a potential customer may proceed with opening an official account at Japan Post Bank. I was unable to successfully find a webpage on the Japan Post Bank site with important information or any information on how to go forward with opening a banking account.
If you scroll down the homepage for the Japan Post Bank website, for example, you will find a section labeled "Service Information" about halfway down the site. Two links are underneath the section that is "International ATM Services" and "International Remittances." When I selected the first former, I found myself led to a page on the website with important information on the ATM system used by the Japan Post Bank. A green stamp underneath both links also leads to the same page on the website for Japan Post Bank. Thus, it does not matter which one of the two you click on, the link or the stamp, because they lead to the very same page.
One bit of information on the page with important information on the ATM system used by Japan Post Bank was the information on an app, the purpose of which is to locate the nearest Japan Post Bank ATM.
The app may become a deciding factor in the process of choosing the bank in the Japanese banking system that is best suited to meet all of your requirements and circumstances. Finding an ATM machine where you can conduct your banking business while in Japan would become a simple activity and you would never need to look for an ATM. All you would need to do is use the locating function on the app to find one.
When I clicked on the link that is labeled "International Remittances," I was led to a page on the website with important information on how to use the remittance services of Japan Post Bank when sending money overseas if you join Japan Post Bank as a customer.
You do not need to worry about those remittance services being closed off to you if you are opening a personal account to conduct banking business for yourself, but there was a warning at the top of the page on the website that cautioned potential customers that the remittance services were unavailable to corporations, companies by March 31st, 2021.
Not being able to use the remittance services offered by Japan Post Bank as a corporation, the company may or may not affect you depending on all your requirements and circumstances.
Seven Bank has a very user-friendly website, like the website for Shinsei Bank. I found two columns on the homepage that you may find to be useful. The column on the left has a button that is labeled "ATM Locator" and it leads to a search engine on another page of the site for Seven Bank, which is capable of helping you locate any of the ATMs for Seven Bank in Japan.
A search engine possibly is not as useful as an app because it requires accessing the website for Seven Bank, even then, it is still a potential benefit that may help you decide if Seven Bank is the best bank for meeting your requirements and needs when banking in Japan.
On the homepage for the Seven Bank website, the right column is where you can either log into your existing account with the bank or make an account with Seven Bank for the first time. The button that is labelled "Open an Account" opened up into a pop up when I clicked on the button. I was given three different options on the pop up for opening a new account at Seven Bank, all advertising services offered by Seven Bank to customers.
The first option, for example, allows you to open your Seven Bank account with an international money transfer service. The option promoted itself as the number one popular choice of Seven Bank customers.
A service offered with the second option is a cash card. The cash card in the second option for an account at Seven Bank also includes a debit card service, while the third option for opening an official banking account at Seven Bank is to open an account with a car loan.
A car loan may or may not suit your requirements as a customer banking in Japan.
Another option actually existed on the pop-up, but it took a moment for me to see the option because the option was just a link at the bottom that is labelled "Click here to open an account without debt."
A warning on the pop up stipulated that filling out the application must be done within twenty-four hours. If you want to know more about opening an account at by Seven Bank as well, then there is another button on the homepage of the Seven Bank website that you may find helpful.
When I clicked on the button to open an account, the button led me to a page on the website that begins by giving you a short bullet point explanation on why you want to open your bank account at Seven Bank and become a customer.
The page provides you with a total of four buttons afterwards for opening an account at Seven Bank. The first three buttons are labelled as follows: "Procedure for Opening an Account," "Precautions when Making an Application," and also "ID Confirmation Delivery Service." The last button is labelled "Identification Verification Documents."
I found that all of the buttons are very self explanatory in their labels and will give you all of the information and answers that you want about opening an official bank account at Seven Bank, so the website is very user friendly. I found that the website for Seven Bank was, all in all, an extremely helpful resource and more than capable of helping you decide if Seven Bank is the bank in the Japanese Banking system that is most suited to meeting all of your requirements and circumstances.
MUFG Bank, like for Japan Post Bank, does not allow you to open an account on the website for the bank, so far as I was able to figure out while investigating the website. I scrolled down the homepage until I found a button labeled "Asia & Oceania," where I selected Japan as the country because I wanted information on the MUFG Bank locations in Japan.
I was presented a few different locations in Japan to choose from, though, so I selected a random location as my purposes were actually only to gain information on MUFG Bank in regards to its services for its customers who are residing in Japan. I was in for quite a surprise.
I suppose that I should not have found myself surprised, but I was surprised. The page that the MUFG Bank website took me to after selecting a random location in Japan was entirely written using the Japanese language. The majority of the words on the page were written using kanji.
Based on my limited understanding of Japanese and based on context clues, I was able to tell the website's page was definitely providing information on being a customer of MUFG Bank.
MUFG Bank may indeed prove to be a bank suitable for meeting all your requirements and your circumstances as a customer if you have a high proficiency in the Japanese language, or at least, if you have the ability to schedule your banking business within the standard weekday operating hours from 9:00 AM in the morning to 3:00 PM in the evening. If your schedule is flexible, then you will not even have to know whether or the website is helpful.
Sony Bank has a helpful website, just like Shinsei Bank and Seven Bank both have a helpful website for customers. The website for Seven Bank the last of the five websites that I visited in order to collect information on what you may expect from the website of banks in the Japanese banking system.
I found when looking at the website for Sony Bank that it was indeed helpful, but it was not a user-friendly website because getting to the page on the website with important information on the process for opening an account was surprisingly complicated. A button is on the homepage that is labeled "Online Banking" for new customers.
I first clicked the button labeled "Online Banking." A new tab opened in my browser with a page from the website for Sony Bank that immediately showed me a new button. I clicked the button because the button was labeled "Open an Account Now" and only then was I was able to access the page on the website for Sony Bank with important information on legally opening an account at the bank.
Like on Shinsei Bank's website, Sony Bank's website lays out the process of opening your banking account using a step-by-step explanation. There are three steps and the first one is to download the app for Sony Bank before the next step.
All you need to do for the next step is use the app for Sony Bank to scan all of the proper documents required for opening your bank account at Sony Bank. Yes, you read that correctly. You just need to scan the documents with the Sony Bank app before you can start banking in Japan.
It's that simple!
All that is required afterward for the third step is to wait for about ten days. Your new cash card with a Visa Debit for Sony Bank will arrive in the mail and you can begin conducting your banking business while residing in Japan.
What do I need to know?
A bank account at an online bank would require you to open your account using a method other than a bank counter because there is not necessarily a physical location for the banking institution which would be capable of assisting you in-person.
Online banks are able to prove beneficial to customers depending on all of the requirements and circumstances of the customer; for you, an online bank may just be the banking institution type you were in the process of looking for to conduct all of your banking business.
The number one characteristic that may prove beneficial to you of online banks is that those banking institutions are an all exception to the standard weekday schedule from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You will generally be able to access your bank account on a twenty-four basis if you open an account at a Japanese online banking institution.
There are a lot of benefits you can reap from that alone. I, for example, would find opening a Japanese bank account online to be useful for meeting my requirements and circumstances as a customer because I often forget to conduct my banking business before closing hours. Other than that, you can also access your bank account from an app on your mobile device, allowing you to conduct your banking business from any location as long as you have sufficient access to a good Wi-Fi signal.
That means you will generally be able to conduct your banking business easily from any location as well as at any time; depending on your requirements as a customer, you may find that detail to be very convenient. How though, you might ask, are customers all able to withdraw money and deposit money into their account if there is not necessarily a bank counter available for the banking institution where you an employee may assist you? The answer is found in the concept of an ATM.
An online bank may allow customers to access their bank account through the ATMs of partner banks or through the ATMs of the online bank itself. A Japanese banking institution may even offer both options to you. ATMs are the avenue through which online bank customers actually have the ability to withdraw money.
ATMs can allow you to withdraw money or otherwise handle your money in a manner that cannot be done using the app. At the same time, you are often able to access services such as transferring money through an ATM that is also available on the website for the online bank or the app.
You may find, though, that the fees are not worth the services because of the price. The decision will ultimately be based on how well your own needs are met for banking in Japan.
Choosing Your Bank
What do I need to know?
I previously only talked about opening an account at a bank in the Japanese banking system in this guide to banking in Japan for foreigners. To find the bank with services that are the most suitable for meeting all your requirements your circumstances while you are living in Japan, you may need to research the different banking institutions in the Japanese banking system.
Here is all the information I found, to get you started. To begin with, I have found information on the five banks previously referred to in this article, Sony Bank, Seven Bank, Shinsei Bank, Japan Post Bank, and MUFG bank, along with a few other banks.
You may be able to find the bank you are looking for, as in the bank that will be suited to meeting all your requirements and your circumstances, based on the information here, so here is information on banking in Japan to help you with deciding what banking institution in the Japanese banking institution is the most suitable one for you for doing banking in Japan.
Sony Bank is ideal for foreigners who are looking for a debit card with an easy-to-use online interface with access to multiple foreign currencies. It is one of the banks whose websites I visited to collect information on the information provided on the site for customers and important information on how to open an official bank account through the Sony Bank website.
Sony Bank is an online bank, so you will have access to many of the services and benefits that are offered through online banking, should you decide to open your Japanese bank account at the Sony Bank banking institution. To begin with, you will be able to access your bank account on a twenty-four basis during weekdays because Sony Bank is an exception to all exception to the Japanese banking system's weekday schedule of 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Partner bank ATMs will allow you to withdraw money from Sony Bank for free 4x monthly. The fifth time and every time following, you’ll be charged $1 or about ¥105. Sony Bank has 90,000 partner banks, and you will be able to withdraw money from all of their ATMs.
What makes Sony Bank different from other online banks? Well, Sony Bank allows a customer to hold multiple foreign currencies in one account. That is a service that may make Sony Bank the perfect one for you, depending on all your requirements and your circumstances as a customer.
The basic account is free and you will only need your residence card to open an account. You will, though, have to pay a fee of about $2.01 or about ¥213.36 if you transfer money to another bank more than 2x monthly. You can receive money from overseas for free.
You will also be able to send money overseas in both yen and other currencies, for a fee amounting to $27.37 or ¥2883.21.
MUFG Bank offers a lot of advantages to customers because it is the largest banking institution in the Japanese banking system. English-speaking staff is available to you for providing assistance with the process for conducting your banking business, for example, although you will be required to use a Hanko when opening your account.
Your signature is not accepted for opening an account at MUFG; depending on your circumstances, that may be made MUFG Bank the wrong one for you.
You will be allowed to use partner bank ATMs as well as MUFG Bank ATMs if you are a customer of MUFG, though. The ATM fee is different depending on whether you are withdrawing money from a partner bank ATM or an MUFG bank. At an MUFG bank, you’re only charged $1 or ¥105 in Japanese currency as a fee when using the service for transferring money after hours. The fee is also applied to the daytime during the weekends for partner bank ATMs. Outside of those hours, though, transferring money using MUFG ATMs or partner bank ATMs is free.
Japan Post Bank has low banking fees and a majority of locations for Japan Post Bank are able to provide English-speaking staff to assist you with conducting your banking business. You are able to withdraw money from any of Japan Post Bank’s ATMs for free, although the ATMs are not accessible for withdrawing money from 00:05 to 21:00 on Sundays.
Transferring money using a Japan Post Bank ATM is only about $0 to 3.94 or ¥415.83 in fees. If you want to transfer money using an ATM through a cash payment, you will not be able to because Japan Post Bank ATMs do not accept cash for the fee. You also won’t be able to pay the fee for receiving money from overseas in yen.
You are able to pay the fee in US dollars and Euros: $10 or €5. Paying the fee for sending money overseas is also unavailable in yen, but payable with $18.24 for the service. The amount of times a customer at Japan Post Bank is able to transfer money to Japan Post Bank for free is only 5x monthly, and the fee you will be charged for transferring money to other banks is about $1.97 to 3.94 or about ¥207.92 to 415.83 in Japanese yen.
You should be aware that Japan Post Bank does not offer twenty-four-hour online banking to customers, as the online hours for conducting your banking business are limited to 00:05–23:55.
Rakuten Bank is one of the online banks in the Japanese banking system, like Sony Bank and Shinsei Bank; you will find that opening an account at Rakuten Bank will allow you to enjoy many of the benefits that come with using the online services offered by banking institutions. There is a downloadable app for Rakuten Bank customers that will allow you to access your account at any particular location you're capable of downloading on your mobile device, for example.
It allows you to conduct your bank business as long as there is a Wi-Fi signal.
One other upside to Rakuten Bank is that it is also an exception to the standard weekday operating hours of 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. You can access your account all twenty-four hours on the weekday!
At Rakuten Bank, you are able to withdraw money from partner bank ATMs, just like you would be allowed as a customer of Sony Bank or Shinsei Bank. The service for withdrawing money is free up to 5x monthly should you require that service to conduct your banking business.
You will need to sign up for the “Happy Program” in advance to qualify for the service that waives the fee. Rakuten can offer you other services beyond the "Happy Program" and those it has in common with other online banks, too. For example, the ability to pay cash when transferring money at a partner bank ATM is one such service.
The banking fee for transferring money is about $2.35 to1.97 or about ¥247.55 to 207.52 in Japanese yen. The fee you will be charged for receiving money overseas is actually higher, at an amount of about $22.35 or about ¥2356.20 in yen.
The cost for sending money overseas is about $28.21 to 37.33 or ¥2973.98 to 3935.44. There is some good news, though! Transferring money to the Rakuten bank is free regardless of how many times a month you use the service.
The fee for transferring money to other banks is about $1.51 or ¥159.19 in Japanese currency.
Shinsei Bank has a requirement to opening an official bank account at Shinsei Bank that I actually mentioned earlier in the article when I provided information on the experience waiting for you if you wanted to find information on Shinsei Bank or important information on opening an account on the website for Shinsei Bank.
To open an account, you see, you will need to have a residency card sufficiently providing that you live in Japan. Sony Bank and Seven Bank do not have that as a requirement for opening an account; thus, you may find that Shinsei Bank is not the bank that is capable of meeting all your needs as a customer.
That said, if you have a residency card, then opening an official bank account at Shinsei Bank may prove easier because you are not actually required to use a Hanko stamp when opening an account at Shinsei Bank. You also do not have to wait six months for a residency card before opening an account if you're in the employment of a Japanese company.
Both points may prove to be advantageous to you as a customer depending on your requirements. At Shinsei Bank, you will be able to withdraw money from partner bank ATMs of Shinsei Bank if you decide on opening an account at Shinsei Bank, just like you would be able to at Sony Bank.
You will be charged with a banking fee of $1 or ¥105 in Japanese yen every time you withdraw money; you are able to pay a fee of about $18.24 or about ¥1921.44 in Japanese currency to receive money from overseas, too, if you decide to use that service offered by Shinsei Bank.
The fee you will be ultimately charged at Shinsei Bank for sending money overseas is about $18.24 to 31.32 or about ¥1921.44 to 3299.31 in yen.
Seven Bank is one of the banks in the Japanese banking system that provide online services to customers. As a result, you will be able to gain access to a lot of related services if you decide to actually open your official bank account at Seven Bank. You may find the services to be suitable services for meeting all your requirements and your circumstances as a customer.
There is a downloadable app for Seven Bank customers that will allow you to access your account at any particular location, as long as you have suitable access to a Wi-Fi signal, if you download the app through your mobile device.
Seven Bank's app and the website you are able to access will allow you to be exempt from the Japanese banking system's standard weekday operating hours of 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. That, as certainly you have read before in this article, is a perk of online banking.
Banking fees are an aspect of the Japanese banking system that you will not be free from even if personally you conduct your banking through an online bank, like Seven Bank. The fees that you will find yourself charged at Seven bank depending on the services you require for conducting your banking business are simple.
If your banking business requires transferring money to a bank account at an institute of banking other than Seven Bank, you will be charged a fee of about $1.97, which is about ¥207.52 in Japanese yen. The fee lessons to $0.49 or ¥51.62 if you are transferring money to an account at Seven Bank.
Withdrawal fees are $1 during the daytime and free after hours. Unlike Sony Bank, you will only be able to withdraw your money from Seven Bank ATMs and from partner banks. One service that you may find useful as a customer of Seven Bank or other online banks is that many allow you to transfer your money using the ATM machines for a fee.
Seven Bank will charge you a fee of about $0.49 to 1.97 or about ¥51.62 to 207.52 in Japanese yen; please be aware that you will be able to make a cash payment. Also, Seven Bank does not offer a service that will allow you to receive currency from overseas.
That is one of the downsides of opening an account at Seven Bank. You can, though, send money overseas in any currency other than yen for a small fee which amounts to about $8.07 or ¥850.11 in Japanese currency.
TRANSFERRING MONEY - BANKING IN JAPAN
Transferring money to Japan is one of the services you may require to conduct your banking business and there are a few different ways that you can accomplish transferring money to Japan. The process of sending money abroad to a Japanese bank account in a Japanese bank can be complicated, especially when you do not have prior experience transferring money to Japan. BFFTokyo has a guide on transferring money to Japan to help you. The guide provides insight into sending money abroad into a Japanese bank account, as well as examples of institutions that may provide remittance services to customers.
Banks are all capable of offering remittance services for sending money across international lines to the Japanese banking system, but a banking institution is not the only option that is available to you. You can also use PayPal, Western Union, along with other companies like TransferWise or XE Money Transfer. If you would like to read the BFFTokyo guide for transferring money to Japan, the article about transferring money will answer your questions!
What should I know?
The Japanese government, as I wrote before, allows you to pay off a traffic ticket fine at the counter of a banking institution and the majority of banks in the Japanese banking system offer currency exchange services that stay open after hours.
You may have just arrived in Japan for a short period of time on business or for an extended vacation; you may also be on Japanese soil because you are planning on becoming a Japanese resident for an unspecified length of time or because you will be doing business in Japan for the duration of at least one year. You, regardless of the reason, may need to exchange foreign currency on your person into Japan's yen.
Don't worry, Japan as a country has made changing out foreign currency extremely simple for foreigners entering Japan and leaving Japan. I certainly can say that it is much easier than changing foreign currency into the US dollar inside the United States.
Changing out foreign currency for Japanese currency may be done at any Japanese airport, where those services are offered for entering Japan and leaving Japan, as well as to Japanese residents.
A currency exchange service is located at every airport on Japanese soil and there are numerous other locations in Japan, too, where you can change out foreign currency for the Japanese currency of yen; you may find that the front desk of the hotel you are staying at may offer be such a location if you are indeed staying at a hotel. Not all hotels offer those services for currency exchange even though all airports will be able to provide it.
Department stores, shopping malls, and major stations are more locations in Japan where you may be able to find currency exchange services that will suit your requirements and your circumstances. Of course, banks are also an option.
You should be aware that not every bank does offer currency exchange services for customers. The banks that offer those services are generally in cities and you won't need to make an account to change out all of your foreign currency for the Japanese currency of yen. Also, you will not have to necessarily follow the weekday operating hours of 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM because those are often services open after hours.
You see, many banks with currency exchange services leave the currency exchange corner open even after the standard time of closing at the end of the work day.
Closing Your Account
What do I need to know?
To close an account, you will need to prepare the proper documentation to end your time as a customer for whichever bank you chose to open a new account in during your time as a resident of Japan. You will not need a residence card or a driver's license and you not be charged a fee. There will not be, for example, a small deposit of about $9.12 or ¥968.09 like when you first became a new customer.
THINGS YOU WILL NEED
You will need an identification card for verifying your identity and, also, two of four other items to close an official account at a banking institution of Japan. Which of the two items you use to legally close a bank account will depend both on your own personal preference and the requirements of the bank in which you decided to become a customer during your stay in Japan. The first two items you will be required to choose one of are as follows: a Hanko stamp or your signature. As I said earlier in the article, a Hanko stamp is an item traditionally used in Japan as a representation of your consent to an official document just like a signature.
You do not need to worry about what a Hanko stamp is or where you can find one to open official bank accounts in Japan. After all, only traditional banks in the Japanese banking system will require a Hanko stamp in 2020. You are far more likely to be asked to provide a signature on the documents for closing your account, just like for opening it. The other two items you will need to choose one of are as follows: a bank book or cash card. You will need either a bank book or a cash card, therefore, other than a Hanko stamp or signature, to put together all of the proper documentation for closing your account at whichever Japanese bank you are currently a member of.
You can decide to go through the process of closing your old bank account in the Japanese banking system once you've finished preparing all of the items I mentioned previously.
Western Banking VS Banking in Japan
What do I need to know?
Banking in the United States is different than the process for banking in Japan. Traditional banking where you go to a bank counter and are properly assisted by an employee may be offered to you despite the language barrier, as there are a numerous amount of banks in Japan that offer their customers English-speaking assistance from employees proficient in the English language, an assortment of differences still exist. You will be able to withdraw a set amount of money from an ATM, transfer your money from one account to a second account in the same or different bank, and use all the bank services that you will require.
Traffic ticket fines are the number one difference between western and Japanese banking systems that I was able to notice during my research. As I said at the beginning of the article, The Japanese government allows you to pay off the fine for a traffic ticket at a bank counter.
You are unable to do that in the United States. You may also pay traffic ticket fines at the post office, but I am just going to explain how to pay traffic tickets off at the bank for now. If you are as confused as I was when I first learned about how to pay traffic tickets fine in Japan, don’t worry! I’ve put together all of the following information just for your sake.
Blue tickets, to begin with, are the name for traffic tickets that require you to pay a fine in Japan. You may receive a blue traffic ticket if you commit any of the following offenses I have listed: illegal parking, speeding up to 30 kph, ignoring a traffic light, or illegal use of headlights. The process of paying the fine for a blue traffic ticket begins with attaching a payment slip to the blue ticket, before going to the bank to submit the payment for the traffic ticket fine.
A detail that you may want to keep in mind is that any offense committed in traffic that is a moderate traffic offense worth less than six points is qualifies for receiving a blue traffic ticket and the fine from the police.
You can avoid going to the bank entirely if you stay careful and do commit a moderate traffic offense; at the same time, you can also avoid going to the bank if you accept criminal liability for the offense you committed. Accepting the criminal liability will actually exempt you from paying the fine that comes together with a blue traffic ticket.
If you do not choose that option, then you may want to remember paying the fine within the seven after the offense was committed and you received the blue ticket is a requirement. When you submit the payment to the bank, don’t forget that only cash is accepted! Check out this article for more driving tips.
Post office buildings, as I wrote before in the article, are also a place where the Japanese government allows you to pay off the fine for a blue traffic ticket. I am going to explain the details for that now. The number one difference between western and Japanese banking systems may be, perhaps, that all the banks of Japan have a post office nearby.
If you come across a bank during your time as residing in Japan, then you can be assured that there is a post office nearby. You, similarly, can be assured a banking institution is nearby when you come across a post office during your time residing in the country of Japan. I found that to be a very interesting detail.
If you choose to pay off the fine for your blue traffic tickets instead of accepting criminal liability for the offense, then you can attach the payment slip to the blue traffic tickets and go to the post office near your bank.
You can also choose to just go to the bank to pay off the fine that came together with your blue traffic ticket, should doing so suit your preferences or requirements more than the other option. You have the ability to conveniently choose your counter, whether it is the counter at the bank or the post office, an ability that prove to be more suited to meeting your requirements and your circumstances.
How is a convenient ability, you ask? Well, the hours for the bank you opened an account when you first arrived in Japan has different hours than the post office. Even the Japan Post Bank closes two hours earlier than the post office does during the weekday.
Thus, you will have more time in the weekday to pay off the cost of the blue traffic ticket’s fine. Choosing to pay off the ticket at the bank would limit you to the 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM standard weekday operating hours of a bank in Japan: the post office hours in Japan are from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays.
That’s at least two whole more hours on the weekday you have to pay off the fine, as even the Japan Post Bank closes as early as 4:00 PM during the week.
Customer service is another main difference between the western banking system and the Japanese banking system. You will never be guaranteed quality customer service when you walk into a western bank because even if the company values good customer service, there is always the chance you will meet an employee with poor manners.
That does not necessarily hold true if the banking institution whose services you are aiming to employ is, in fact, a part of the Japanese banking system. Any and every bank you walk into in Japan is a place where you have the ability to experience Japan's customer service personally as a customer or member of that bank.
The culture is supported by how valuable the Japanese consider good manners.
You see, serving customers respectfully and in a traditional manner is one of the core philosophies of Japan. Employees in Japanese banks, restaurants, cafes, post offices, and other places of service aim to satisfy customers even though tipping is not practiced in Japan.
It is a part of Japanese culture to be polite when interacting with society, especially when all those people are customers of your business. That is a part of why service for customers in Japan can be considered one of the best in the world, but it’s not the only reason why my time going to businesses in Japan was more pleasant as a general rule than in the United States.
The primary reason is a side of society in Japan besides politeness and yet is still a result of a characteristic inherent to the majority population of Japan. A culture that encourages you to be polite when interacting with others is not necessarily enough by itself to create that result.
As one article explained, there is a very simple reason why there is a very simple reason why Japanese customer service culture will stop you from ever walking into a bank in the Japanese banking system and meet an employee with poor manners: about 56% of Japanese residents take their business elsewhere when the employee of a company is rude.
A company that operates as a place of service, like a bank or café, would have the majority of their customers redirected to a different company if their customer services were too poor, leading to major losses that would not be worth it. Training all of the employees to show perfect manners is better.
Final Remarks on Banking in Japan
Whichever banking institution you chose as the one to open an account in, as it was the best suited to meeting all your requirements and your circumstances, will have a lot to lose if the quality of customer service at the bank drops. Hoping this guide made banking in Japan sound a lot more doable!
The percentage of the Japanese population that is willing to take their business elsewhere after experiencing poor customer service is 56%. That is perhaps the biggest difference between the western and Japanese banking system I can identify, as the percentage in western countries is much lower; this difference also may explain there is always a chance to meet an employee with poor manners when walking into an western banking institution. Only 32% of the population in the United States, where I live, are willing to take their business elsewhere after experiencing a single bad customer service interaction with the employees of a company or business in the US.
Here are a few percentages found the study for comparison:
United States 32%
FAQ - Banking in Japan
Shinsei Bank is not only known for being foreigner friendly, but it also allows you to open an account for foreign currency. Shinsei Bank also has English speaking services available on the hotline for their customers. You also get to use your account from the moment you open it!
Citibank has branches in Japan and that may be your best option. If you would prefer to open an account at a Japanese bank in Japan, then you will have more difficulty. Banks in Japan require you to be a resident of Japan to open an account as a general rule.
Banks are all capable of offering the service to transfer money across international lines to the banking system in Japan, but are not the only option that is available to you. You can also employ TransferWise, XE Money Transfer, or alternative companies.
Here is the BFFTokyo guide on how to transfer money to Japan.
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