Banks and Banking
Where can I withdraw money with my (foreign issued) credit card/cash card? What would you recommend?
You can usually make a cash withdrawal using a credit card/cash card such as Eurocard, Visa, etc. over the counter at a local bank, but not through their ATMs. To make a withdrawal from an ATM, head to any Post Office. The Post Office ATMs will usually accept foreign issued credit cards, and the ATM interface is bilingual Japanese/English. Please note that most ATM machines don’t operate 24 hours per day. The General Post Office on Route 248 has the most extended hours.
When can I, and how do I open a bank account?
There are different types of accounts, however, for most students, an ordinary savings account (futsu kouza) tends to be the best option. The requirements for opening a bank account tend to differ from bank to bank (and sometimes from branch to branch), but as a minimum you’ll need an Alien Registration Card (gaijin card). You’ll get more detailed instructions on how and when you’ll be able to get your Alien Registration Card during your orientation, however, please note that receiving your card after you arrive at ALC can take upwards of a month or more. If you need a bank account immediately and can’t wait, please notify the Student Service staff, who will assist you in obtaining a temporary document in lieu of the Alien Registration Card that will allow you to open a bank account.
What are the nearest banks I can use? Which is the best one to use?
The two closest banks are the local Okazaki Shinkin Bank (Okashin) and UFJ. In terms of services, they are about the same, except that the Minami Branch of the Okazaki Shinkin Bank is slightly more student friendly. For online banking inside Japan, You’ll either need a good command of Japanese (around Level 2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test or higher), or, you may wish to have a look at the Citibank or Shinsei banks, both of which offer English language online banking.
Does the Okazaki Shinkin Bank have ATMs all over Aichi Prefecture or just in Okazaki?
Okashin is a local bank, so most of the branches are located inside Okazaki city. Okashin is a shinkin bank, and it’s possible to make withdrawals from almost any other shinkin bank using your Okashin cashcard, just as it’s possible to make withdrawals (usually for a 105 yen fee) from the ATMs of just about any other bank in the country. Apart from Okashin, the UFJ bank also has a large number of branches in Okazaki (due to it originally being the Tokai Bank ? a local bank) and the region. Both are convenient to ALC’s campus.
Instead of using my credit card/debit card from home, can I obtain a Japanese card? What are the advantages in doing so?
When you open a Japanese bank account, you usually also apply for a cash card at the same time so that you can use the ATMs to make deposits, withdrawals, check your balance etc. The advantage is that you avoid exchange rate commissions and other fees each time you make a withdrawal, though there are often 105 yen fees for making withdrawals at night or on weekends. For those studying for 6 months or longer, this is usually the cheapest way to bank. Once you have an account, you can wire transfer/remit funds from home at a flat fee, and then make withdrawals locally without encountering further fees.
Do I need a ‘hanko/inkan’ for official documents? What is a ‘hanko’ , where can I get one and how much does it cost?
You don’t actually need a hanko in order to live in Japan, but over time it may become useful especially in you’re working or intending to stay in Japan after completing your studies at ALC. An inkan stamp has your family name carved into it and is used in Japan in lieu of a signature. If you’re not from a country that traditionally uses inkan, then you should be able to get by without one even when opening a bank account or paying bills. If you are, then you may need to obtain one to complete your alien registration. In recent years, new arrivals from Korea have also been required to provide kanji surnames when registering, even if they don’t use them in Korea.
The cost is usually about 2000-3000 yen and they can usually be purchased from stationery stores or from specialist inkan/hanko shops. As a general rule common Japanese names are kept in stock, unusual names and foreign names are not, so if you think you’ll need an inkan it’s best to arrange one to be carved with time to spare. These will probably cost 4000-5000 yen, though cheaper types (made from plastic) will always be possible. If you’re going to be using your inkan regularly, it’s often a good idea to have 2 made at the same time in case you lose one. An inkan is basically worthless unless it’s officially registered.
City Hall Services
For the most detailed information on embassy locations, please visit the Embassy World website at http://www.embassyworld.com. The office will be able to help you with directions to your respective consulate/embassy, should you need to go there.
See the Health section for information on hospitals.
Where is the nearest Post Office to ALC?
The nearest Post Offices are located near the JR Nagoya and Okazaki Stations. Both are within a 10 minute walk.
Do they speak English at the Post Office?
As a general rule, staff at the Post Office don’t speak English. If you need to go to the Post Office, but don’t think you’ll be able to communicate effectively, it would be best to bring a classmate or a Japanese friend. Our staff can also help you if need be.
How do I send packages overseas? What shipping methods are there? How much does it cost?
Packages being sent overseas can be sent be sent from a number of different places, i.e. the Post Office, and by a number of different shipping methods. Cost will depend entirely on where the package is being sent, the weight & size, the method in which you choose to send it, etc.
Am I allowed to have mail sent to ALC? Are there any extra costs for having mail sent to ALC?
You can have mail sent to ALC. There are no extra costs involved.
Can I get packages sent directly to my accommodation?
If you’re not at home at the time of delivery, the post office will usually not leave your package for you. Please use ALC’s address, which is listed below when having packages sent to you.
How do I pick up the mail I receive at ALC?
Mail sent to your attention can be picked up at the office in ALC.