Here in Japan, cash is king. If you don’t carry it, you usually don’t pay. American, magnetic strip cards usually aren’t accepted here in ATMs and employees will look at you funny when you hand it to them.
I’m not sure why cash is so popular here. At home, I pay for EVERYTHING with credit/debit cards. Maybe it’s because Japan is so safe. My students tell me businessmen will generally carry 40-50,000 yen on them at any given time, which is like $5-600 dollars.
Which leads me to a funny story…
When I opened my bank account last week they gave me a “bank book” which is basically like a check register (If you remember those things). When you use an ATM, you can slide in the bank book and the machine will print your transactions and current balance on the book for you to look at later.
The thing is, you can only deposit money with the bank book, not take money out. To take money out you need your bank card, which is somewhere in the mail right now.
So, like a big idiot I used my bank book to deposit all of the cash from my last paycheck, which I have no way of getting back. When I go to the bank teller they don’t speak English, so usually they stare at me like a cow until I go away.
I’ve lovingly started referring to Tina as the “Bank of Tina”, because she has a line of credit which she has graciously extended to me. Her customer service skills are really nice. The British accent makes me feel like I’m in the bank from Harry Potter. The interest rate’s a little high though.
So that’s where I’m at. I have 2 loaves of bread, 2 bottles of wine, a dozen eggs, and a bag of protein powder to last me for a week or so.
Oops, make that 1 bottle of wine…