Sometime during your first month your supervisor should help you to open a bank account. Let them choose the bank as your paycheck will be directly deposited into this account, and because your contracting organization has arrangements with a certain bank that must be honored.
To open an account in Japan you will need:
- Personal Seal (Hanko)
- Residency Card
- Initial deposit in cash (ie. 1000 yen. You cannot open an account with travelers’ checks or a transfer from another account.)
Remember to request a cash ATM card and keep track of your account number and PIN until the bank book and cash card arrive. Most banks’ cash cards are for ATM transactions only; they are not debit cards (check cards) that can be used at a point of purchase.
Most banks are generally open from 9:00am to 3:00pm daily.
They are closed on weekends and public holidays and the entire New Year break .
ATMs hours vary but tend to be open from about 8:00am to 7:00pm.
Often banks will charge a fee for using their ATMs after 5 or 6pm. The services offered by ATMs after this time may also be restricted.
Despite the inconvenient lobby hours, banking should be fairly convenient once you get into the swing of things. ATMs (if you know how to use them) offer every service you could ever need! Withdrawal, deposit, bank book update and furikomi (electronic transfer) can all be done here. Remember that ATMs do not usually accept cards from other banks.
- Balance Inquiry - 残高照会 (zan-daka-sho-kai)
- Bank - 銀行 (gin-ko)
- Bank Account - 口座 (ko-za)
- Bank Account Number - 口座番号 (ko-za-ban-go)
- Bank Branch Number - 店番号 (mise-ban-go)
- Bankbook - 通帳 (tsu-cho)
- Bankbook Update - 通帳記入 (tsu-cho-ki-nyu)
- Cancel - 手続き取り消し (te-tsuzuki-tori-keshi)
- Change/Correct/Revise - 訂正 (tei-sei)
- Confirm - 確認 (kaku-nin)
- Deposit - お預け入れ (o-azuke-ire)
- 1Direct Cash Transfer - お振り替え (o-furi-kae)
- 2Transfer - お振り込み (o-furi-komi)
- Withdrawal - お引き出し (o-hiki-dashi)
- Withdrawal after checking balance - 残高照会後お引き出し (zan-daka-sho-kai-go o-hiki-dashi)
- Yen - 円 (en)
- ￥1,000 notes - 千 (sen)
- ￥10,000 notes - 万 (man)
Furikomi replaces the role of checks in other countries. They can be done through an ATM, and anyone who will be expecting a furikomi from you will know and provide you will all the information you will need to do it. Basically you will need to know their bank name, branch where the account is held, the account number and the name on the account. If you don’t read Japanese, you will need someone’s help because bank names and branch names will be in kanji. Some examples of situations that may require a furikomi are GoRemit to send money home and H.I.S. No. 1 Travel, because they don’t take credit cards. After you do all the initial setup, you will be given a card with all the receiving party’s account information stored. That way, the next time you need to make a payment, your cash card, PIN number, the issued furikomi card, and the amount you want to send is all you’ll need.
Electronic transfer of funds will be used to pay most of your bills. Initially your supervisor should help you to fill out the forms (YOU WILL NEED YOUR HANKO) to automatically have any bills deducted from your account and transferred to the company monthly. You will receive a receipt in the mail. The alternative to that is a bill in the mail either with a barcode which can be paid at most convenience stores or a bill without a barcode that can often be paid at your bank.
It is also possible to set up a Postal Savings Account at most post offices in Japan. This is a good idea to for people who often travel outside of Wakayama. Money deposited in a post office account can be accessed from any post office ATM all over Japan. This is done by filling in the forms available next to Post Office ATMs. You can always ask your supervisor for help, but paying attention when your first account is set up will give you all the practice you’ll probably need. Postal ATMs also have an English Guide button which helps make it even more user friendly.
You will need to bring your Residency Card, Passport or other picture ID when setting up the account. After a few weeks you will receive your cash card and then you will be able to withdraw money from any post office in Japan and many ATM’s; post office accounts can also be used when transferring money.
Be aware that not all ATMs accept all cards at all times. It sounds confusing, but its easiest to remember that all banks have operating hours and depending on the bank you maybe able to withdraw money. For example, Kiyo Bank doesn't have agreements between all the banks in Japan, therefore if you go to the local Shinkin Bank you may not be able to withdraw money due to lack of agreements. Additionally your bank (Kiyo Bank in our example) may actually just not offer after hours service therefore rejecting all requests for money after hours. To add salt on the inconvenience wound, sometimes the ATM refuses to operate in English. For this example we'll have a postal account which is accepted at all ATMs at all hours. If you use the the English button after certain hours then any requests to withdraw or deposit money are automatically rejected. Conversely if you do the same transaction at the same time, but in Japanese, then there won't be any problem.
Foreign credit cards are not commonly used in Japan as they are in our home countries; however,there are a few places where they are now becoming acceptable. Some gas stations (hit or miss), the expressway system, large department stores, Autobacs,etc. (but not independent garages) and big-chain restaurants (like family restaurants) and a lot of convenience stores. Despite their increasing usage you never really know so ALWAYS have cash just in case, or ask beforehand.
Many ATMs do not accept foreign cards either. You can get cash advances on foreign credit and debit cards at post offices and 7elevens and usually have an English option. Some places will only accept Japanese credit cards or their own cards (e.g.. Eneos self-serve gas stations only accept an “Eneos Visa”). Similarly, many credit swipe machines here have a different electronic make up compared to those overseas, meaning they won’t accept foreign cards.
Now, the biggest “weirdness” about using cards in Japan is the question that they ask you, “One time, two times?" This is asking whether you want the charge spread over months or not. Just answer it by holding up your index finger. It is difficult for foreigners to get a Japanese credit card. Most banks won’t issue one, however the Post Office has a Visa Debit card available to account holders.
Sending Money HomeEdit
1. International Postal Money Order (kokusai yuubin kawase)Edit
This is available at most Post Offices. The process varies based on country, but basically a postal money order is made out to someone other than yourself. The recipient can then take it to any post office and cash it. It is cheap but is not available for all countries. It’s a good idea to send it as registered post.
2. Telegraphic TransferEdit
Money sent directly to a specific home country bank account. It can be expensive. There have been rumblings of paying close to $80USD once just to send $2000USD back home.
3. Mail transferEdit
Funds are changed in Japan and a transfer amount is mailed to an overseas bank account. It takes about a week.
4. Transfer by chequeEdit
The bank prepares a cheque that you send. It takes 4-5 days.
GoRemit is the easiest way to send money home. You can find information at https://www.goremit.jp/. GoRemit has a set fee of 2000 yen for overseas transfers regardless of the amount sent. Setting up an account simply involves filling out forms designating a home account. You will need your home account and branch details– (account number/branch address etc). Lloyds will send you a confirmation letter & instructions on how to make that first transfer – when the first transfer is made, the ATM machine will print out an actual furikomi card for you to use for future transfers. When you want to send money just press furikomi and pop in the card. Then select the amount…the money will be in your home country account in 24 hours (take in to consideration holidays/time difference between Japan and your home country).
JETs are paid once a month in Japan, receiving about 260000 yen after taxes are deducted, and all JETs receive about the same pay.So why do some JETs live comfortably and others always seem to be struggling? The secret is to budget carefully so you aren’t begging or performing street acts at the station in the middle of each month. Be aware of any big expenses that you know are coming up and have a bit ready for those ‘unexpected’ expenses……. Car repairs, taxes, insurance and enkais can all spring up and are always more expensive than you will expect. If you start listing and keeping track of the things that you pay for in the first few months you will soon get an idea of expenses and how much money is left
over. Yes, that’s right…let’s all make a budget! Include rent, utilities, phone (landline and keitai), food, travel, petrol, school, and social expenses…to name a few.
Supermarkets have various times when fresh items are reduced (such as after 6pm) and special discount days. In-season fresh goods are a lot cheaper. They also have waribiki stickers and signs indicating specials. If you tend to eat Japanese rather than imported foreign food, your
groceries will be noticeably cheaper. Discount shops (kinken shops) are all over Japan, often found in malls. These places sell cheaper
tickets (you can even buy cheaper stamps!). Your teachers will know where these are.
100yen store is a store carrying everything you could possibly ever need, for 100yen.
Second hand and used goods stores have heaps of goods just waiting to be found. E.g. Hard off, Book off…(ask around the JET community & keep an eye out on the forum)
Point cards can be found at almost every store, restaurant and petrol station in Japan. Get them and use them to receive discounts or presents.
International phone calls can be expensive, so sign up for a discount service such as Brastel or World link. For computer owners, YahooBB, FLETS and Skype offer some competitive IP Phone rates that will help save those costs on calls home.