Things that irk me about Japan Round 3: ATMs and Bank Vocabulary

14 05 2009

I ended up faced with a situation where I had to use a Japanese ATM, and if you stayed tuned you’ll find out what is was for!  But in the mean time, time to add number 3 to my list of things in Japan that irk me.

I have to admit Japanese ATMs are definitely the most amazing ATMs that I have ever seen, they have multi touch screens, voice feedback, and support a number of abilities that you didn’t ever think an ATM could have.  Unfortunately, they are plagued by a some irritating issues that make them not fun to use at all.  Hit the jump to find out :).


The Japanese ATM

The ATMs must have motion sensors  or something because they light up once you approach them and blurt out tons of Japanese at you :P.  You are presented with a screen with no less than 12 options :P.  I can’t remember what they all were, but it will help you greatly in Japan if you remember what they all mean.


Well why you ask, don’t they have the ATMs available in more than one language?  O sure they do, except when you do press the ENGLISH button, the screen transforms  and instead of the previous 12 options you are left with 1 very BIG button that says, “Would you like to check your bank balance?”.  This isn’t even an issue of them not able to translate the bank machine, it’s more an issue of they don’t want to.

So unfortunately, that means to actually do anything with bank machine you must know a LOT of Japanese.  I guess I’ll try and help some of you travelers out there who might stumble by my sight with some bank vocabulary :).  I can’t remember everything that the ATM told me, but these are a few of the things that I do remember being able to do:

お振込み – o furikomi – Bank Transfer.  The Japanese version of this is radically different from anything else I’ve ever seen.  For starters in Japan, bank machines provide services to even those poor souls who don’t possess an access card (or cash card as they’re known in Japan).  All you have to do is hit the no cash card button (if you can read the button of course :P).  Now where the Japanese ATM differs from the western one is that, you can transfer cash directly into someone’s account with a bank machine.  Yep, the machine takes cash and spits out change for you.  Provided you got all the Japanese button presses right, your money should arrive at the designated accounted the next day.

お振り替え – o furikae – Bank transfer – This is also bank transfer except this time it takes place between two accounts of your own.  So I guess savings to chequeing? 😛  But they don’t use cheques in Japan so, umm.. I dunno.  You get the idea I hope.

通帳更新 – tsuucho koushinn – Update your passbook.  Just stick your passbook into the slot and it’ll bring a new line for you :D.

残高照会 – zandaka shoukai – Check your bank balance.  The only thing you can do if you were using the English interface.

お引き出す – o hikidasu – cash withdrawal.  Notes from machines only come in 1,000 and 10,000 notes.  They don’t supply 5,000yen notes just to piss you off :P.

お預け入れ – o azuke ire – cash deposits – They take cash, and most likely cheques too.  They do give change so you can deposit exactly how much you want.

クレジット - kurejitto – credit.  Basically, since Japan is a largely cash driven society with down right horrible credit card adoption rates by commerce, banks allow you to get cash advances with your credit cards from ATMs.

The list isn’t complete, but these are likely what you might need if you were in Japan.  I actually am not sure what the other buttons do myself :P.

Well the second issue which causes these machines to peeve me to no end is the ridiculous short time out period.  If you don’t press a button for 30 seconds, it times out and you have to start over from the beginning.  If you also take more than 5 minutes between starting your transaction and ending it, the machine resets on you and you have to start from scratch.  Understandably, this is extremely irritating :P, especially for someone who reads a little slower than the average person.

The third issue are the business hours.  Yes, ATMs in Japan have business hours…  They close for the evenings and turn on again early morning.  The best part?  The hours are not standardized.  So if it’s later than 7pm and you need a working ATM, good luck maybe you’ll stumble upon that are still open.  However, the 24hr ATM is becoming far more common these days, so hopefully this retarded idea of ATMs with operating hours will just go away.

And lastly the fees.  I can’t possibly get more peeved with one.  The fees whether or not you’re a customer of the bank vary depending on day of the week, time of day, location (yes for some reason ATMs inside convenience stores will cost you more), the amount of $$ being moved (which is dumb because this is all electronic data), and of course the type of service being performed.  Just to give an example of my frustration, try and read this “simple to read” cost chart.  The same bank has 3 of them one for weekdays, one for saturday, and one for sunday and public holidays.


Yarly, ATMs in Japan are cool and so not cool at the same time that I can’t decide if I hate them or if I love them :(.

W00t a Bank

W00t a Bank

I’ll end it all off with a sneak peak as to why exactly I was using an ATM anyway.  I was paying for a preorder  for something that looks like THIS!




13 responses

14 05 2009

oh god you ordered another plastic toy.

14 05 2009

My ATM experience in Japan was actually quite painless. I was using a foreign debit card (PC Financial FTW) in a convenience store ATM (7 Bank inside a 7/11). You press “English”, put the card in, punch in your PIN, withdraw some cash, then you’re done. It didn’t actually charge me anything!

Of course, PC Financial charged the standard $3 for an international withdrawal, plus an additional 2% on the day’s exchange rate from CAD to JPY… but I was expecting another 150Y or so to be added on by the ATM itself.

Mind you, this wasn’t so much an ATM as a Cash Machine (it’s small, like the white-label ATMs you see ’round here), so maybe that’s a distinction worth noting…

17 05 2009

I think it was because you were using an ATM from a small bank their ATM doesn’t follow the same methodology of the large banks, to your benefit!

Most ATMs in Japan are like the ones I talked about in my blog though.

15 05 2009

Your throwing your money away again? D=

15 05 2009

i kind of expect tons of fees if i’m not using an atm run by my bank… but different fees based on day/time??? and amount being transferred?! that’s pretty insane ^^;;

now that i think of it, i’m not sure how the number of options compares to the atms i use since i’m just so used to only performing 1 of 2 actions (withdraw or deposit)… and i basically ignore any other functionality provided ^^;

the only neat thing i’ve noticed about local atms is that they’ve added ocr to some… was pretty cool to just stick in a check and have it detect everything automatically

17 05 2009

It’s not just OCR to read checks, they also read bills and your passbook too.

Using an ATM in Japan was the first time in my life that an ATM gave me change :P.

15 05 2009

Where’s the jump button??

17 05 2009

jump button? I don’t get the joke :(.

15 05 2009

Are you buying a Barbie Nendroid this time? 😉

@guorbatschow: Nice comment, made me lol hard.

@robostrike: I ate it. It was delicious.

And I share the same sentiments as Nyarth on your plastic toy order. How many figures do you have now anyway?

Oh yes, getting off topic here. I didn’t even know ATMs had more than two or three options, but that fees thing is quite ridiculous. And why is it that Japanese costs are never something like 19.99 or 28.89 but strange yen amounts like 153 yen or 5346 yen? Now that is puzzling to me.

17 05 2009

I don’t get it either. Their costs always end in really really strange amounts leaving you with BAGS of small change. It’s really annoying, but no one else seems to suffer the same problem. Maybe this is another one of those mysteries of Japanese life :P.

17 05 2009

It just because you dont have bank card.
My sinsei card can transfer money 30 times per month without paying for it.

11 06 2009

this is a good info, really, as i cant read kanji. i put this page saved in a folder….

11 06 2009

Glad you found it useful!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: