Issue Index

  Mini Features
  Cultural Features
  Life in Japan
  Big in Japan
  Rant & Rave
  Cars & Bikes
  Health & Beauty
  Money Talks
  Tokyo Tech
Web Watch
  Food & Drink
  Restaurant Reviews
  Bar Reviews
Word of Mouth
  Travel Features
  Japan Travel
  International Travel
  Tokyo Talk
  In Store
  Japan Beat
  CD Reviews
  In Person
Discard your bank cards

Illustration by Dot

I was remarkably sober. Yet, somehow, I managed to leave my wallet on a train earlier this month and had to cancel my bank card. My God, the hassle I've had to get a new one. I have never been through such a laborious process.

First of all, despite requesting a new card by phone, I had to go to the bank in person with my passport, bank book, and hanko (name stamp) to fill in a form saying that I wanted this new card. Fair enough, I suppose, but I couldn't go to just any branch, oh no. I had to go to the branch where my employers opened my account, which is conveniently located nowhere near where I live or work. Thank goodness it was in Yokohama and not Okinawa. Did I get my card then? Of course not.

I was told I had to wait a week for a letter to arrive at my home, and then I had to return to the same strategically-placed-to-annoy-the-hell-out-of-me branch with the letter, my passport, my bank book, and my hanko again. The letter finally arrived and I purposefully set about going to the bank by clutching my ever-increasing quota of essentials. But dammit, I left the letter at home, and they wouldn't have any of it. So I was left high and dry for another week, trying to live off just one withdrawal. The symptoms were somewhat painful - when you're used to living out of bank machines, you lose the ability to estimate your weekly spending and end up having to beg taxi drivers to take you home for JY832.

The following week, after borrowing off friends again, I made it back to the branch with the letter, passport, bank book, and hanko... To be told by that paradigm of efficiency, the paper shuffling bank cashier that the card would be sent to my apartment in due course. And I had to pay JY1500 extra for the service. Grrr... I held my breath and counted to ten. Outrageous! - In England, a simple phone call and a new card is on its way to you for free, no questions asked. With my bank, to add to your misery, you pay, even if your card was stolen.

Just to confirm some Japanese people's views of unruly foreigners, I duly rioted in the bank. Another week without a bank card! I just couldn't stand it. And if they were never going to give it to me in person anyway, why on earth had they made me return twice just to bring the letter that I had filled in there the week before? How can their customers accept this, I later moaned to one of my students. But, not entirely to my surprise, she told me that not all customers accept this treatment. My student's Japanese friends have permanently misplaced their cards and they've never been through any of this, certainly not traipsing all the way to the branch where their account was opened every time a problem arises. Well, that says it all. My bank - I'd advise everyone to boycott them and their pathetic administration procedures, but then they'd probably rejoice that their foreign customers would no longer be rioting in front of their cashiers.

Many thanks to reader Gemma Bigby for this Rant.

Got something positive to say? We know that there are aspects of Tokyo that you love, and we'd like to hear about them from you. Send your 500-word rave (or rant, if you must) by fax to 03-3423-6931, or email to  

Metropolis Online
349: Life in the cycle lane
Playing chicken with a ladybike
348: Daisuki na Tokyo
Tokyo's my favorite!
347: Nihongo dake!
Why am I not fluent in Japanese yet?
346: People make the city
The beauty of Tokyo's people
345: Cross Training
Commuting by train in Tokyo
344: Yellow Line Fever
A guide for the blind... and a pain in the neck
343: Welcome to Tokyo
What did you bring me?
342: Positive thinking
Three reasons why we love Japan
341: I'm a rounder...
Veterans of Japan vs. Japan rookies
340: Discard your bank cards
The labour of replacing lost bank cards
339: Shoganai...
It can't be helped
338: Respect your environment
Poluution problem in Tokyo
337: Strike Three - You're Enlightened
How omiyage ruins a vacation
336: Missing manners
No manners outside of Japan
335: Goodbye jitensha
Is stealing bikes a popular pastime in Japan?
334: War of the Words
English borrows from other languages too!
333: ENGLISH ONLY, please
Don't bother writing your name in Japanese
332: A menu carved in stone
No special requests for lunch!
331: The Zen of Looking Busy
The art behind faking work
330: Lyrical Phlegm
Japan's spitting dilemma
329: Rock harder, Japan
Big, bad and ugly concerts
328: Noise Deficiency
The unrelenting quiet that is not Japan
327: Chopstick Diplomat
Constant questioning = constant answering
326: Game over
Cutting off the game for regular scheduled program
325: Grown pains
The hooligan behavior of middle-aged salarymen
324: The Price of Fame
Young teen actors light up on-screen
323: A Customary Affair
The universal language of consumerism
322: Robber barons
JR steals from the rich.. and the poor
321: Tegami Or Not Tegami
Deny the letter to save money
320: The Garbage Men
Variations of the "salaryman"
319: Holidaze
Japan - Home of the lamest holidays in the world
318: Box your ears
Be the karaoke star you've always dreamed of
317: The winter of my discontent
No oden if it's spring please!
316: The Bells
Going insane from bells and voices
315: The Big Tokyo Trash Mystery
No garbage cans + too much garbage= a clean city?
314: The Kamikaze Spirit
The war may be over but the spirit lives on
313: Movie Mania
Laughing alone in the corner
312: Geek parade
What's going on with gaijin men?
311: Gleaming gomi
Rinse it out before you throw it out
310: Lower Mathematics
Teaching practical mathematical equations
309: Escalator clots
Blocking the flow of escalator traffic
308: Sky's the limit
Favorite channel on the hit list
307: Bring on the studmuffins
Thanks to the "Men looking for women"
306: Burning Rubber
Narrowly averting bicycle collisions
305: Fishy Business
The sushi wasn't dead
304: The Invisible Gaijin
When gaijins collide
303: Talk work only
The Japanese perception of idleness
302: From kotatsu, with love
A blanket covered electric coffee table
300: Why 2K?
The millennium bug ain't no big deal

ISSUES 350-381
ISSUES 250-299

ISSUES 233-249