Life in Japan: Least Favourite Thing

Another week has passed. Time goes by too quickly. Well, it’s time for another question about living in Japan. This is kind of a part two question from the last week.  Again, it’s S. R. Carrillo asking.

What’s your least favorite part about living in Japan?

JPY_BanknotesUnlike the last question, I find this one easy to answer. There are some things I don’t like about living in Japan (cockroaches, very big spiders, drivers who run red lights), but there’s one really big thing that I don’t like.  Banks.

Japanese banks are pretty similar to those in other countries.  They have ATMs, they have bank tellers, they have many services. However, the ATMs tend to only be open during business hours or slightly longer than business hours. But that’s not the worst thing. The banking system is rather archaic.

In Canada, waiting in line to see a teller isn’t that long, and once you’re up there, you can get everything done within two or three minutes with a minimum of paperwork.  Everything is electronic.

In Japan, you take a number and wait.  And wait and wait. Often fifteen to thirty minutes. Then your number is called and you go up, give them the forms, the money (if depositing), and then they give you another number.  As I watch the bank teller, he or she (usually she) works on processing the transaction…on paper. She then hands it off to another person who works on it for a few minutes, still on paper. Then that person hands it to yet another person who works on it, also on paper. They don’t use computers very much.  Finally, they bring it back to the teller, who then calls me up to get my paperwork and anything else.  Total time waiting can be up to an hour, though I’ve gotten through everything in as little as fifteen minutes.  That’s rare, though.

For a country that’s high tech, the banking system is incredibly old-fashioned. And everyone pays with cash! I’m used to that now, but when I return to Canada, I’m going to find it strange using my debit card again.

If you have any questions, check out the original post and leave a comment with your question.  Any comments on this subject, leave them below.


28 thoughts on “Life in Japan: Least Favourite Thing”

  1. Reblogged this on Jay Dee in Japan and commented:

    Last week, I posted about my favourite thing about Japan. This week, the question is about my least favourite thing about living in Japan. It’s actually not a controversial topic, but annoying nevertheless.

    1. It’s actually quite common. I see it about half the time when drivers are racing to beat the light. Someone inevitably goes through a red light.

      But I see rule-breakers all the time. People who smoke in no smoking areas. People who talk on their phones in the train. People who don’t signal when they turn. People who throw their cigarettes to the ground. It’s like anywhere else. People in Japan are human, not robots.

      Also, there are a lot of “black companies” that exploit foreign workers, violate human rights, etc.

    1. Unfortunately, anything involving bureaucracy is behind the times. Actually, Japan was a late adopter of the internet, computers in the workplace, and even computers at home. It’s really odd, I think.

  2. I’m not surprised by the banking thing. Lived there for 2 years. There are so many advanced things in Japan, they have great toilets, except for the ones with just holes in the floor, but so many things are done in an antiquated way. But I guess that is the charm of it all, the contrast between the old and the new.

        1. No, never. They don’t actually exist anymore. Mainly due to the fact that too many women would complain that these men were touching them with their hands. So, no, not going to happen anymore. It would just lead to lawsuits.

          1. Really – I was there mid-90’s I remember them. No one ever warned me about them and I almost clobbered the crap out of one of them the first time I went on the subway in the morning.

            1. I’ve seen the videos, but of course, times change. I think they’re more worried about safety these days. Also, there are women-only cars in trains now, as there are a lot of perverts who touch women in the crowded trains. The staff pushing people into the trains could take this opportunity to touch women inappropriately, so the practice is no longer done.

            2. Oh yeah, I remember someone trying that trick on a subway, and I clobbered the crap out of him. I had lots of personal space after that.

            3. The wonderful thing about that is that the public shaming of the perpetrator would prevent him from doing it again…on that train.

      1. I don’t even have a credit card. Mine expired 8 years ago. I couldn’t renew it anyway, it was an MBNA card that I got through my university, and I needed to actually live in Canada to renew it.

  3. I came to Japan before the internet…so I’m not used to America’s (and presumably Canada’s) obsession with everything being done online now: online banking, online shopping, etc.

    I like the internet for somethings but not monetary transactions. I like that Japan still uses cash, shops at real stores, and banks / offices / schools use paper.

    Sometimes the “old” way is still better!

    1. I still don’t like doing online banking or shopping. I want to go to a store and see what I’m buying. I want to pay in person with cash or debit card. No idea why I feel that way. I hated having direct payment from my bank account. I wanted to control when things were paid.

      I have a friend who went to Fujisawa city office to get something processed about his health insurance. He got the paperwork done in one section, and then they told him to go to another section to get the payments done. So, he went to that other section and they said they had no idea what he was talking about. They had no record of anything of that sort. The departments are not linked by computer at all. He was pissed off.

  4. And…I grew up in Florida. I’m (somewhat) used to humidity and giant roaches!
    And some drivers feel that a traffic light that “just changed” to red is still orange…but there are drivers like that everywhere, not only Japan.
    Part of “defensive driving” is understanding that sometimes other drivers won’t follow the road rules (either intentionally or accidentally).

    1. I heard South Carolina has the worst drivers in the US, not so far from Florida. But Florida has a lot of old people, too, doesn’t it? Where I’m from, I didn’t see much in the way of running red lights. It’s just that it seems to happen at every second light here in Japan. And with the number of people I see smoking in no smoking areas, I think a lot of people here think laws are just suggestions. The police tend to ignore them, too.

      1. >smoking in no smoking areas

        Yeah, I was happy when they passed the law making it illegal to smoke except in designated areas…but it’s not really enforced.

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