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

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Donald Ash is an Atlanta, Georgia-born, American expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last ten 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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