So Complicated! BANK SYSTEMS in Japan. Read this before you go! | Guidable

So Complicated! BANK SYSTEMS in Japan. Read this before you go!

By Guidable Writers Feb 9, 2017

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified) Spanish Chinese (Traditional)

A few months ago, one of Australian friends, Josh, moved to Japan and I was asked to help him open a bank account. Actually I myself never opened a bank account in Japan before although I have three bank accounts. Well, who opened my bank accounts then? Luckily, my parents did many years ago. I simply use them.

Anyway, Josh showed up to Nihonbashi Station because that’s where I work at. I took him to one of the biggest Japanese banks in Nihonbashi, so I can help him open a bank account.

As we walked in the bank, the receptionist came to us


Receptionist – “How can I help you today”

Me – “He wants to open a bank account”

Receptionist – “Sir, where do you live? Or work at?” (She said in Japanese)

Josh – “I work and live in Minato-ku” (I am translating his words into Japanese)

Receptionist – “Sir, you cannot open a bank account if you live in Minato-ku. This is Chuo-ku. You must go to the one in Minato-ku.”

Me – “Seriously!!!??, You gotta be kidding me right? He cannot open a bank account in Chuo-ku because he lives in Minato-ku?”


2 Tips to remember.

① Banks Operation Hours – ONLY 9 AM to 3 PM (applies to all banks in Japan)

You have to go to the nearest bank either from your WORK or HOUSE.

The rule ② may not apply to other banks, but it’s certain that one of the Japanese biggest banks have this rule. So if you are opening an account at this bank, make sure it is within your district of your home or office address.

We finally arrived at one of the banks in Minato-ku and told them that we want to open a bank account. They asked us to fill out some application forms such as name, birthdate, address etc, you know, nothing out of ordinary. However, there are several things you need to have with you.

Here is the list

①Your Alien Registration Card


③Inkan ( or Hanko) – Ink stamp which must be custom made by stamp shops in Japan. Find the nearest Inkan (Hanko) shop and tell the clerk that you need Inkan (Hanko) for opening a bank (called Ginko-In). Price Range – 2700 yen at minimum depending on the style and material.

Not custom Made Ink Stamp (Cannot use it)

Custom Made Ink Stamp

④Money to deposit (the minimum 1,000 yen)

⑤Telephone number (you cannot use foreign telephone number)

⑥Bring a Japanese speaking person (I tell you the reason at the end of this article)Since Josh cannot speak and write any Japanese, I offered to complete the forms for him, but I was forbidden to help (I believe this is due to their rules). In addition to it, he must complete them in Japanese characters. It was extremely difficult for those who are still learning how to write Japanese characters and especially Kanji.Once you complete the forms, they process your application to open an account. You set up ATM password at the bank and your ATM card will be delivered to your address within 10 business days. While you wait for your ATM card, you will be given this bank book (see the image below). You can deposit money at ATM by using this bank book but withdraw.


Bank Book (Deposit only)

I was quite exhausted after spending most of an hour translating Japanese into English and the other way around as well. Before leaving the bank, I asked the banker this one simple question.

Me – “So if someone, who cannot speak and write Japanese, came in without any help like me, what do you guys do? Can anybody speak English here?”

The banker – “We cannot open an account if he/she came without help and cannot speak and write Japanese. We have to reject it”


This may apply to only this bank. However, after going through the process with Josh, It’s always and 100% better that you bring a Japanese speaking person with you. It definitely makes your life so much easier. So make long instruction short, the first step is

Find a Japanese friend who is willing to deal with your problems!

Cindy N