Understanding the banking system in Japan

  • Withdrawing money in Japan with a Visa card, Mastercard or American Express
You can withdraw money with international cards at ATMs of some convenience stores (7 Eleven mostly), Japan Postal Bank, or at Citibank in Shibuya or Shinjuku.
  • Japanese Banks services

If you receive a salary in Japan you will need a Japanese bank account. Major banks include Japan Postal Bank, Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, SMBC, Mizuho, Shinsei, Sumitomo, Resona. Here are a few principles that are true to most banks in Japan and can be different from your home country:

-       The bank account operation is free

-       You will be provided a free cash card to withdraw money

-       Internet service is sometimes provided, usually in Japanese

-       Withdrawal within opening hours of your bank or convenience stores is free. During closing times it is around 100JPY each withdrawal.

-       Withdrawal at other banks is not often possible. Convenience stores which have an agreement with your bank provide ATMs.

-       A credit card is always accompanied by a loan, and is not only for payment like in France for example.

-       You cannot pay online or in shops with a cash card

If you would like to link your bank account to a visa, mastercard or JCB card, your bank or one of the many shopping centres can issue one. You will have to apply for it. It is however almost impossible to get one of these cards if you are not staying in Japan on the long run. Only Citibank provides them easily. JCB card (Japanese equivalent of Visa) is sometimes easier to get but you cannot pay on foreign websites with it.


Opening a bank account

LIMMS administration can help you opening a bank account. If you would like to go alone, please bear in mind that in most Japanese banks, you will need to write Katakana at least, and have a personal seal. Signature is not always accepted. It is better to speak Japanese too.

To open an account, you will need:

-       your resident card or certificate

-       a valid visa, usually for more than 6 months

-       an address in Japan

-       a phone number sometimes


Choosing a bank : overview of services in 4 major banks


Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFJ) 

Japan Postal Bank


Shinsei Bank


SMBC PRESTIA (Former Citibank)




  • Agencies everywhere in Tokyo. One is close to campus at Yoyogiuehara station
  • No account maintenance fee
  • Withdrawal is free from 9 a.m to 6 p.m at MUFG ATMs and some convenience stores
  • No need for a telephone number to open an account
  • Agencies everywhere in Tokyo
  • Easy to open an account
  • No need for a telephone number to apply, only an address in Japan and a resident card
  • No account maintenance fee
  • Free withdrawals at anytime
  • English-speaking staff at all times
  • Easy to open an account and in a short time
  • No need to write Katakana and you do not need a seal
  • No justifications needed on your employment situation
  • No account maintenance fee
  • You receive an international cash card immediately for free (not visa or mastercard but you can at least withdraw money abroad)
  • Free Internet banking service in English on which you can directly do money transfers (domestic and international)
  • One free domestic bank transfer per month
  • You can withdraw money at convenience stores and major banks for free anytime
  • Very easy to open an account in English
  • English speaking staff 
  • Online banking service in English
  • Possibility to withdraw money abroad
  • Possibility to get a Visa credit card or MasterCard 



  • Very difficult to open an account on your own
  • Procedure to open the account is time-consuming and justifications are required about employment situation
  • A seal is usually required instead of signature  except with the assistance of LIMMS
  • No internet service in English
  • No English-speaking staff except in some of the main agencies
  • No international withdrawal service or VISA/Mastercard service (application is required, and usually refused)
  • Domestic money transfers (for your rent for ex) have to be done at the ATM in Japanese and are 400JPY each 
  • International money transfers have to be done at one of the main agencies like Shibuya and the procedure is very long (more than one hour). You will have to justify the reason for transferring money
  • Receiving money from abroad can also require a procedure and justifications
  • International money transfers are impossible
  • Receiving money from abroad has to be done through an intermediary account
  • No internet banking
  • No English-speaking staff except in some of the main agencies
  • You need a phone number to open the account
  • There are not many agencies
  • Almost impossible to get a VISA or Mastercard as well (Some credit cards will be available starting from 2015 - to be checked for foreigners)
  • account maintenance fee of 2.000JPY per month if you don't maintain a 500.000JPY balance on your account
  • not many agencies

Address of closest agency

Nishihara 3-8-5
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Station : Yoyogi-uehara

Opening hours Weekdays 7:00-15:00ATM : 7:00-21:00, also on Saturdays

  Shinjuku West Exit

Opening hours

Weekdays 10:00-17:00

Dogenzaka Kabuto Bldg 1F/2F 2-25-12 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 

Station : Shibuya

Opening Hours

Weekdays 9:00-15:00

Saturdays 10:00-16:00


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