BANKING IN JAPAN
As the Hokuriku Bank is the biggest bank in Toyama, and the government of our prefecture deals with them, most of us have an account there. You may however be unlucky and get stuck with one of the random smaller ones (it never hurts to ask for it though). Whoever you end up with, here’s some stuff you should remember about banks in Japan.
Most banks are open from 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday. As these are quite clearly during your official working hours, your school must give you time off to go to the bank if you have to go, or if you’re close enough you might be able to nip out at lunchtime. As for bank ATMs, many banks have them near the entrance of the bank, so while the customer service part closes for the day, ATMs are usually available until 8pm (however, more rural ATMs may close at 6).
Most shopping centers and some train stations have bank machines that are also open on weekends. At Toyama station and in Marier and Aeon, the ATMs are open Monday-Saturday until 9pm, and 7pm on Sundays. The best thing to do is to locate these ‘cash corners’ and find out their hours before an emergency hits you (but of course it still will!).
Remember that when you use a bank machine after 3pm or on Saturdays and Sundays, you will almost always be charged about 105yen for each transaction. Also, be wary of public holidays. A lot of ATMs close over public holidays, or charge even more money for the privilege of taking money out if they remain open!
ATMs OUTSIDE THE HOKURIKU AREA
It may be confusing trying to figure out which ATMs you can and can’t use outside the Hokuriku area. You can use all Sakura machines. Others that you can use may have the red Hokuriku logo, but some that don’t will sometimes give you money anyway.
The best thing to do is just try them all until you get one which doesn’t spit your card back at you. You will of course be charged about 105yen for the privilege if you are successful (on top of the 105yen charge from your own bank).
Beware as some personal loan machines are apparently masquerading as ATMs – they will probably reject your card anyway, but be careful not to end up with a mortgage or personal loan! If you’re apprehensive about using a random ATM, try a major convenience store like Seven Eleven or Lawson. You’ll almost certainly be able to get money from the ATMs in these places. Just keep in mind that just because these places are often open 24 hours, it does not usually apply to the ATMs here.
THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU CAN DO AT THE BANK
You can do a furikomi (bank transfer) by either using the ATM or by filling out the form (see the section on furikomi) and giving it to the teller. You can also pay bills such as telephone and electricity at the bank (although this can also be done at post offices and convenience stores). (*NB: Ask your supervisor if bills can be automatically deducted from your bank account. This will save you a lot of time and effort.)
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