Living in an Unnatural Habitat: A Generally Hopeless Person Opens a Japanese Bank Account

October 11, 2018
Something I needed to do recently was open a bank account.
This was of course going to be a bit of a task, as I have my doubts that I would be capable of opening a bank account in England let alone in Japan.
Nonetheless, this was a task that I needed to accomplish, as I need a bank account so that my work can pay me.
(Oh by the way, if you’re hoping for some useful tips about opening a bank account prepare to be bitterly disappointed because I have literally none.)
So, I headed to the bank that my boss had suggested and tried to explain that I wanted to open a bank account in my best pidgin Japanese (though anyone who has any knowledge about pidgin languages would know that they are faaar more sophisticated than my attempts at the Japanese language – mostly a few random and badly pronounced Japanese words thrown together with a lot of English, some accidental French or German and some ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ and ‘sorrys’).
This didn’t work at all, so I resorted to every Modern Foreign Languages teacher’s worst enemy, Google Translate.
The appearance of Google Translate served to make one thing clear to the staff member who had been left to deal with me, the obnoxious Gaijin: I did not possess the level of Japanese required to open a bank account.
So I was handed a piece of paper explaining this, and asking me to return with someone else who could speak Japanese.
Then I was cast out into the rain.
Great.
Now, thankfully I knew people through my work that could help me. Otherwise I’d be a little stuck, though I’d probably just have to use a different bank (my parents had no issues setting up a bank account with a different bank).
A few messages later, I’d found someone to help me and also been informed by another person that I first had to get myself an Inkan, which is basically a stamp that people use instead of a signature. I don’t really know but it’s a thing apparently.
Sorting an Inkan was pretty simple, I just went to a Tokyu Hands and used the machine thing.
Anyway, then I met the co-worker I asked to help at the bank and let him do most of the talking.
A few forms later, and I was now the proud owner of a bank account in Japan, though I can hardly say through my own hard work.
At least it’s sorted.

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