How To Open A Japanese Bank Account

By Donald Ash | Japanese Money Matters

Your bank account is the crux of nearly all of your day-to-day financial dealings, regardless of the country you live in.
Let's look at how to open a Japanese bank account - specifically how to open a Japan Post bank account.

We'll examine three different parts of opening your Japan Post bank account:

  1. Where to go
  2. What you need to bring
  3. The Paperwork
How To Open a Japanese Bank Account

Why Do I Need A Japanese Bank Account?

Keep in mind that most Japanese employers will pay you via direct deposit.  In addition, my rent has ALWAYS been deducted directly from my bank account.  With rent, this isn't always the case - Japanese share houses can be cash-based.However, if you want to live in your own place, odds are you'll need a Japanese bank account to do so.

If you're just visiting Japan, I don't see a huge need to open an account here.  But if you're here long-term,
a year or longer, you'll need one.  To be able to make money, save money, transfer money, pay rent,
and do a slew of other financial dealings here in Japan, your Japanese bank account is an essential.

Where To Go

To open up a Japan Post bank account, you can go to your nearest Japan Post Bank (aka JP Bank).  Many of the Japan Post offices have both an area to mail & ship items and a Japan Post bank services area.  However, not all of them do. To know of if the branch that you’re going to has both, just look for this logo:

JP Bank Logo

and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

What You Need to Bring

Whether you choose to open a Japanese bank account with the Japan Post, Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho or (any other Japanese bank), the info you need bring with you will be about the same. Please bring:

  • Two forms of personal identification
  • Your Residence Card
  • Your Passport and/or your public health insurance card
    (I had private health insurance when I signed up with JP Bank, so I just used my Residence Card and Passport and it worked out just fine.)
  • The money you want to deposit
  • Your address and phone number
  • Your Hanko or personal name stamp (optional)

The Paperwork

How To Open A Japanese Bank Account - Japan Post Paperwork

The primary form you have to fil out to get your Japan Post account. Only one page 🙂

How To Open Japanese Bank Account - Paperwork

1. 種類 (しゅるい | Shurui)

You have two choices here. You can either go with number1。通常 (つうじょう or Tsujo)- the general account or with number2。貯蓄 (Chochiku or ちょちく) - the savings account. With the first account you can deposit and withdraw as you please. But bear in mind with the second account, interest rates change depending on your balance and it can’t be used for direct deposit (salary) nor for automatic payments.

2. 送金機能 (そうきんきのう| Sokinkino)

Shading in this box enables the remittance function for your new account.

3. 基準額 (きじゅんがく| Kijungaku)

What do you want your deposit limit to be? When I signed up, I set my deposit limit as ten million yen.
Has my account ever even gotten much money? No way! But it’s nice to have options, should you ever need them.

4. お預け入れ金額 (おあずけいれきんがく| Oazukeire Kingaku).

This box is for the amount of your first deposit. I’m not exactly sure what the minimum deposit can be, but I know it’s pretty low. I think I deposited 1000 yen on my first deposit.

5. おところ | Otokoro

There is a space for フリガナ (furigana) which are the kana (hiragana and katakana) corresponding the the kanji in your address. There is also a space for 漢字 or かんじ (kanji). If you don’t know how to write your address. If you give your Alien Registration Card to the clerk and say “Tetsudatte kudasai.” The clerk will fill in this part for you.

6. おなまえ | Onamae

Just like section number five, there’s a space for furigana (フリガナ) and for kanji (漢字). I entered my name’s katakana in the top, smaller, boxes and the printed, block letters in the larger boxes below. I entered my last name first. ASH, DONALD

7. お届け印 (おとどけいん | Otodokein)。確認印 (かくにんいん | Kakunin)

This area is where you will use your official seal, your hanko or your inkan. I don’t know the major differences between the otodokein and the kakunin, but my hanko was just fine. Even if you don’t have a hanko, you can just sign here, and it will be okay.

8. 生年月日 (せいねんがっぴ | Seinengappi)

WAIT! Before you rush and fill this out, please note that this is will be written in the Japanese imperial year format.
元号 (げんごう or gengo) refers to the different era names that your birthday falls into.

This system is based on Japanese imperial reign. The four options are 1. 明治 (めいじ or Meiji), 2. 大正 (たいしょう or Taisho),
3. 昭和 (しょうわ or Showa), and 4. 平成 (へいせい or Heisei).
I would imagine that very soon these forms will be updated to include the newest era of imperial reign 5. 令和 (れいわ or Reiwa)

In the interest of time. This is another one you can ask the clerk to do. Write your birthdate on a separate sheet of paper and show it to him or her. They will be able to write in the imperial date for you.

9. キャッシュサービス

Okay, nothing too tough here. Just chose one of the following:
1. 通帳 (つうちょう or tsuchou) . カード(card)- You want both a bank book and a card.
2. カード -You only want the card
利用しない (りようしない or riyoshinai)- You don’t want to use this service.
I personally chose option one.

10. キャッシュサービス デビト 機能 (きゃしゅさーびすでびときのう | Kyashu Sa-bisu Debito kino)

If you select option 1. 利用する (りようする or riyosuro) you opt in to this service. You will be able to withdraw and transfer funds to the Account of Japan Debit Card Promotion Council. With the cash card you receive, you will be able to use this cash card at member stores and shops affiliated with the Promotion Council. Honestly I had a hard time navigating through this part on my own so I opted not to use it. I chose option 2. 利用しない (りようしない or riyoshinai) which means I choose not to use this service.

11.カード種類 (かーどしゅるい | Ka-do Shurui)

Here, you choose the type of card that you want.

2. SUICA付カード (SUICAつきかーど or SUICA Tsukika-do)
This is a cash card with a linked SUICA feature. I chose not to do this because I can’t use this type of Suica for commuter passes, which I use almost every month.

8.JPBANK カード (JPBANKKa-do)
This is like a credit card, and I just decided not to even get into that in Japan. Plus there’s an application process and subsequent time lag involved.

9.一般カード (いっぱんka-do)
This is a regular cash card.

I chose option 9 or the regular cash card, which I received in about a week-and-a-half to two weeks after doing my application.

12. 暗証番号必須取り扱い (あんしょうばんごうひっすとりあつかい | Anshobango Hissu Toriatsukai)

This is asking if whether or not you want to use a pin number service for in-person withdrawals:
You can choose to 1. 申し込む (もうしこむ or moushikomu) apply.
Or option 9. 申し込まない (もうしこまない or moshikomanai) not to apply.

I chose option one since I will already know my own pin number. It’s just an added security measure.

13. ボランティア

Almost there, everybody. This section asks if you want to donate money to 1. a general volunteer organization (全般 (ぜんぱん or zenpan)), 2. an environmental organization (環境(かんきょう or kankyo)), or 9. 申し込まない (もうしこまない or Moshikomanai)- you don’t plan to donate.
A percentage of your interest (I think my job said it was 20%) will be donated.

14. 性別 (せいべつ | Seibetsu)

You only have to worry about filling this one out if you chose the Suica option in field number ten.

The Wrap-Up

That’s how to open a Japanese bank account.  Don't worry, it doesn’t take as long to open as you might think.

Once you’ve turned this in, you just have to wait for your debit card to arrive in the mail.  If I’m not mistaken, I walked out of the Japan Post with bank book in hand when I was done.

Remember, whether you open a Japan Post bank account, an account with Mizuho Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ, or some other Japanese bank, the registration process is going to be very similar.  If you struggle at all, or if you think you’re going to have a hard time, taking someone who can translate is always a good plan.

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About the Author

Donald Ash is an Atlanta, Georgia-born, American expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last eleven years. While in that time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator of blog. Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.

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