Becoming Official In Japan – Part Three – Getting A Bank Account


A bank account is not as essential as you might think. Most bills can be paid at your local convenience store and many employers will pay you in cash.


I opened a bank account because my employer wanted to pay me by bank transfer as I get paid monthly and it was hassle for her to pay cash, or something.


Really, it was easy peasy. I looked up “new account” in the dictionary. I told the woman behind the counter. I filled in a form with some help – name, address, date of birth (in Japanese! I needed help with the Japanese date…), employer and so on. The lovely counter-woman and I figured the forms out between us with the help of a dictionary and some hand gestures.


By the way, no proof of address was needed, and no other ID than my gaijin card (which I also didn’t need proof of address for). I thought that I would need my passport, but I didn’t. Woman behind the counter took my gaijin card and my hanko and disappeared for ten minutes while I waited on a plastic chair and looked at the pictures in a magazine. Then I was shown a sheet with various ATM card designs on it, picked one, was returned my ID and hanko and left with a box of tissues as a gift and my passbook.


The passbook is sort of like the oldschool books you used at banks before they had ATMs, and are still used in my home country for post office savings accounts. You can use either your ATM card and PIN or card and passbook at your bank’s own ATMs. No, I don’t see the point of them either.


My actual ATM card was delivered to the house by courier a few days later. I had to hanko for it.


Note – do not forget your PIN. It’s not like at home where you get 3 tries. One bad entry and your card is kaput. Although, of course, the message that tells you that is in Japanese. So, you have to go back to the bank and be irked that your card is broken, only to be told “bad number” and hang your head in shame. Then you need to pay 1000 yen to get a new card, and wait for that to be delivered. Not that I would ever do something like that. Nooooo.


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