Life Hack

How to set up a bank account in Japan

A bank account 銀行口座 ginkô (bank) + kôza (account) basically works the same as in any other country in the world.


There are several possibilities for you to set one up- depending on the visa you are in Japan with, as well as your Japanese language abilities. As a tourist it seems to be impossible though.

Why would you need a bank account? 

  • Most employers want to transfer your salary directly to a bank account.
  • You rather park your cash in a safe place.
  • You can pay bills by having the money taken from your bank account automatically.
  • Many mobile phone providers demand you having one.


What do you need to apply for a bank account? 

  • A registered address
  • A personal seal (Inkan 印鑑)
  • Your Japanese ID and better bring your passport too.
  • A mobile phone would be good, but it works without it as well.


Which banks are best?

From experience we know that many Japanese banks do refuse foreign customers for several reasons, mainly visa- or language ability related. The friendliest are those two:

The Japanese Post Bank Yûchoginkô ゆうちょ銀行 is very friendly and even with a Working Holiday Visa it is rather easy to set up a bank account. You find it within the post offices.


Post office


Mitsui Sumitomo Bank Mitsuisumitomoginkô 三井住友銀行seems foreigner friendly, but you must speak and write Japanese enough to be able to understand the staff and fill the forms correctly. The big ones in the main tourist areas also provide a currency exchange service. The one in the pictures is right at Kaminarimon in Asakusa.


SMBC bank


Beware, some while ago a new rule had been established. One is that transferring money from abroad to Japan or the other way around will not be allowed until you are here for 6 months already, but you may set up a bank account right on the day you are arriving in Japan if you are not on a tourist visa. Ask the bank if you can do transfers within Japan already.

The most important vocabulary concerning banks:

  • 送金する sôkinsuru transferring money
  • 引出す hikidasu to draw money from the bank
  • 預金する yokinsuru to deposit money in a bank
  • 通帳 tsûchô bank book
  • 貯金 chokin savings
  • 残高  zandaka balance
  • 金利 kinri interest
  • 借金 shakkin debt

and yachin 家賃 rent, you may want to transfer to your shared house company. (^_^)


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