Friday, 3 April 2009

PostHeaderIcon Bad Japan: Banks etc

Banks etc

All serious banks have cartoon characters on them.

When I lived in Scotland it used to irritate me that places like banks and post offices used to have some of the worst accessible opening hours. I never understood how such important places started later/closed earlier than other places of employment. Furthermore, it used to make my mind boggle when banks were understaffed over lunch and postmen wouldn't work on Sundays. I still don't understand it.

Now, the post service in Japan is outstanding so I have no complaints there. Everything always arrives earlier than expected (I live in the middle of nowhere) with a professional Japanese lad with a smile. In Britain the "Royal Mail" is staffed by scumbags who spend most of their time stealing whatever they fancy. Also, on more than one occasion I caught a postman writing one of those "You were out when we came... " only to find he didn't have my parcel at all and I had to drive into town to get it myself. Useless, incompetent morons.

However, the banks/money system in Japan is a lot more frustrating than back home. I believe the opening hours are 9-3 and they are usually stuffed full of ancient Japanese people. I don't really need to talk to anyone but the bank hours still confuse me. My local bank has two ATM machines which are still uncommon in Japan. Indeed, you won't see any "hole in the wall" machines anywhere in Japan. You can only access your bank's ATM machine inside the bank. Of course... the banks keep their doors open so you can always use these machines. That is... until they close those doors at about 6pm. So... if you find yourself without any money at 6:01pm then you are screwed until the next morning.

I suppose you're thinking that you could just use your credit or debit card in this situation but I'm afraid they don't exist either. Japan is full of people walking about with 10000 yen (£70) notes stuffed in their wallets. I've found myself on a few occasions in a distant city on the mainland (Hiroshima/Osaka/Tokyo) with no money. It's my own fault because I buy too much beer/meat and then wake up the next day with barely enough money to buy a coke. The problem with this situation is that some banks on Honshu won't accept cards from my crappy island bank of Shikoku. If worst comes to worst... you can find a convenient store that will accept your card for an extra charge. It isn't over yet though...

Despite the very convenient stores staying open 24 hours... and with perfect access to an ATM all day long... the banks only let you withdraw money when the banks themselves are open! Can you believe it? That's the worst one for me. I've been standing there half-drunk at 9pm wanting more money... pleading... shouting... trying to read Japanese... ない ない ない it shouts at me as I go back outside into the darkness of the night.

This post was influenced by my recent visit to the bank to pay for my upcoming trip to South Korea (yay). Firstly, an old woman 'ran' infront of me in the queue when I walked into the bank. She then took about 5 minutes to withdraw some money. The woman on the other ATM ended up breaking that one for some reason. Then a man who was sitting down decided he was in my queue and walked ahead of me. I bit my tongue and resisted the urge to scream profanities in English at them. I was managing fine to perform a bank transfer (all in Japanese) when some 80 year old woman stuck her wrinkly fingers into my screen. She then selected the wrong bank from the list I was reading! I managed to explain to her what she had done and that I'd need to start again now. I even tried to add some sarcasm into my Japanese but they don't get that.

Seriously... when was the last time you saw Tom & Jerry on anything?


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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.