While there are a number of international banks in Tokyo, the majority are investment banks as opposed to retail banks. That aside, there are some prominent foreign retail banks operating within the city including Citibank (http://www.citibank.co.jp) and HSBC (http://www.hsbc.co.jp). Most of the major Japanese banks, including Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (http://www.bk.mufg.jp), Mizuho (http://www.mizuhobank.co.jp), Resona (http://www.resona-gr.co.jp), Shinsei (http://www.shinseibank.com), and Sumitomo Mitsui (http://www.smbc.co.jp), have some English speaking staff, although since the vast majority of banking business is conducted in Japanese, many expats opt to bank with a foreign player.

Th e-banking system in Japan is safe, and while bankruptcies and mergers have happened over the years, money stored in Japanese bank accounts is government insured for up to 10 million yen (approx. US$100,000). The major Japanese banks do offer internet banking, but by and large the sites are in Japanese only – another reason why expats tend to go with the international banks.

Transferring funds internationally is a relatively simple process, although many banks, including the foreign firms, charge a hefty fee for doing so. It is for this reason that many employ the help of overseas remittance specialists such as Lloyds TSB, which provide international transfers for 2,000 yen (approx. US$20) per transfer.

Banks in Japan are typically open Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.; some Citibank branches do provide after hours and weekend service.

Automatic teller machines (ATMs) can be found all over Tokyo, although it’s important to keep in mind that most domestic banks will not accept cards that have been issued from outside Japan, with exception to post office ATMs, 7-Eleven convenience stores, and Citibank ATM branches.