How to Use a Japanese ATM (The Basics): Part 1

By Donald Ash | Articles

Using money is a daily routine for most people, so knowing how to handle basic transactions on an ATM is an essential skill.  Often in Japan you can access machines, at convenience stores & the post office for example, that have an English language option.  If you have access to those kinds of ATMs, that’s wonderful!  But, what if the ATM you’re using is in 100% unadulterated Japanese?  Kanji (easily the hardest of the three Japanese writing systems) can be super confusing for a Japan newbie…hell, kanji can be confusing if you’ve lived in Japan for years.   So, what we’ll do today is just go through some important ATM basics.  The ATM I’m using (owned by JOYO bank), isn’t located everywhere in Japan, but the concepts I’m showing you should apply to most automatic teller machines.

Let’s start first with five key Japanese vocabulary words you should know when using an ATM.  With kanji, you don’t have to know what they mean to do this.  Initially, I just focused on what the kanji looked like…not their meanings.  Please keep in mind, if any of this gets to be too overwhelming, go to your bank and ask an attendant to help you; they’re usually quite polite and quite willing to help.  If you need assistance simply say one of the words below and add おねがいします-Onegaishimasu (a polite please).  For example if I say “Ohikidashi Tetsudate Onegaishimasu”-おひきだしてつだっておねがいします, I should be able to do a withdrawal.  The grammar isn’t perfect, but the clerk will understand withdrawal, help, and please.  Just keep it simple for now.

Japanese ATM Terms.mp3
  1. お引出し-おひきだし: Ohikidashi- Withdrawal.

  2. お預入れ-おあずけいれ: Oazukeire- Deposit

  3. 残高照会-ざんだかしょうかい:Zandaka-Shoukai- Balance Inquiry

  4. お振込み-おふりこみ: Ofurikomi-Money Transfer (from your bank account)

  5. 通帳記入-つうちょうきにゅう: Tsuchoukinyuu-Passbook/Bankbook Update

Next, let’s look at the anatomy of a Japanese ATM.  What does Japanese ATM look like?

See? They’re really not all that different from the ATMs you have at home. The cool thing on some of the machines is the ability to accept coins for deposits. I guess that makes sense, though, because the largest coin (500 yen) is about the equivalent of a five-dollar bill.

Now, I want to show you an example of what a real Japanese ATM screen looks like, and together we can find each of the terms that I listed above.  I will only focus on these five bank procedures, because they are the essentials.  You will have everything you need to get money out of your account, put money into your account, get balances, and even send money to your home accounts.

In the Part 2 of this series, I will actually walk you through each five basics at an Japanese ATM: 1. A Withdrawal, 2. A Deposit, 3. Balance Inquiry, 4. A Money Transfer, and 5. A Passbook/Bankbook Update.

Thanks for reading,

Donald Ash


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.

  • E W says:

    Thanks for posting the ATM kanji. I have been here for some time and realize I want to learn to read more kanji. Now I am going to try to find a lesson on reading kanji from menus at restaurants.

    Thanks for doing what you do!

    • Donald Ash says:

      Thank you so much for reading. I hear you on wanting to learn more kanji. I am in the same boat on that one.

  • Donald Ash says:

    I am so glad you found the videos useful. It was one of those things that was a thorn in my side, so I said, enough’s enough! I’m making a tutorial! It’s nice to meet you!

  • Christine says:

    Hi Donald.
    Thank you so much for the tutorials and all the tips!I have been in a panicking state for the last few months since i am going to be staying in Japan for 3 months and as far as I am aware of there is no way for me to open a bank account in Japan with me not being a resident.

    I was hoping you could explain and perhaps make a tutorial on how to withdraw from ATM’s using a foreigners MasterCard since i have heard that there is not alot of ATMs that takes MasterCard. maybe you had some similar experiences when you first arrived in Japan?

    – Thank you so much!

    • Steph says:

      First off, don’t panic.

      Second off, just go to any Japanese Post Office. The Post Office also runs one of the biggest banks in Japan, and their ATMs are very foreigner-friendly. Just make sure your ATM card uses the same networks as listed on the ATM (Star, Cirus, MC, whatever it is…..), and you can even use an English menu.

      Make sure to call your bank before you leave and tell them you’re going to use the card in Japan so they don’t freeze it…..also, if you have more than one bank, one may offer a better international fee than the other. Ask, ask, ask.

      Good luck, have fun!

  • sancheza says:

    thanks! kinda helpful..

  • sancheza says:

    thanks! kinda helpful..

  • Akemi says:

    Hey Donald! thanks so much for the tutorial! I would like to know if you can explain me how to do a transfer. It will be so nice if you can do this, I’m in a hurry! x(

    • Donald Ash says:

      Hey Akemi! I’m not sure if the ATM you use will be exactly the same as mine, but here ya go!

      All of these vids can be found in one central section of the Ultimate Japanese How-To Guide if you’re ever interested (sorry, shameless product plug 😀 )

      I hope it helps!

  • Pirrip says:

    This really helped me. I just moved here with an ALT position and I had help signing up with a Resona Bank account and I didn’t know which kanji was which at the ATM. Although Resonas ATMs don’t look exactly like this one, I was able to tell which button meant what. This was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks a lot Japanguy!

  • Clive bugle says:

    Very handy article. Thanks a bunch

  • Bahram says:

    Hey bloke, thx ever so much for your quite useful tips. Just one hour ago, I was in urgent need of money, I did use your tips and at last got money:)) Do appreciate!

  • lordoflys says:

    Been here 20 years and I just learned something new. Thanks, Donald.

  • Vu Nguyen says:

    I currently live in Japan.
    I have a Bank of America ATM card. Could I go to the JP bank and deposit USD into my Bank America account do you know ?

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