08 March 2013

Q & A: Studying in Japan as a private student (Part II)

Part I here

Financial management

One of the most important aspects of living in Japan is financial management.

For starters it's recommended to spare some cash, say 100k~200k yen. Even in Japan, credit card may not be widely accepted all over the places, particularly paying miscellaneous fees or buying stuffs off local shops. It's natural that for starters to spend a lot initially to get essential items ready, like futon, bicycle, and some other stuffs.

If you're lucky you may get stuffs leftover by seniors, which really helped to save up a lot.
Or if you’re staying together with a bunch of friends, some of the essential needs can be shared together which save cost too, such as cooking utensils.

If you’re really short of cash, it is possible to withdraw cash from ATM using the credit card, but be warned that the transaction fee is not cheap, so use it when you really need it.

Setting up a bank account

The Japanese language school I attended was kind enough to help us to setup a Japanese bank account. I was being told that it's not easy for non-Japanese to apply a bank account in Japan without a guarantor. Having a proper bank account is definitely useful for bank transactions.

Another great alternative would be Japan Post bank (ゆうちょ銀行), which is the bank associated with the post office. Almost anyone can apply for it, and it’s very convenient to set the JP bank’s account as auto-paying account for bills. Definitely save up lots of hassle and some services even give discount for auto-paying the bill.

Transferring money from Malaysia

Once we’ve run out of juice we’ll need reinforcement.
Now then, since you’ve a bank account ready, so it’s time to transfer money into it?

Initially I had the money transferred from Malaysia to the Japanese bank, but the transaction fee of JPY 5,000 (about RM 200 by that time’s rate) was a little too much to bear, so I’ve decided to try another method.

During the summer holiday I went back to Malaysia and opened a Maybank account.
The Maybank cherry debit card is very useful as it's a credit card and ATM card at the same time.

Once you’ve your Maybank account loaded, to get the money in Japan go to the ATM that supports PLUS card. If you flip over the Maybank card you’ll see a PLUS symbol. Usually in Japan, Seven-Eleven’s ATM supports PLUS card. I’ve seen that some bank’s ATM supports as well, but personally haven’t tried it before.

Do make sure that when withdrawing, choose Saving Account instead of Credit Card. For each transaction, RM 12 is charged for processing fees, which I tthink is still pretty reasonable. Do take note that there’s a default limit of RM 5,000 withdrawal per day, but you can set the limit yourself using a Maybank ATM in Malaysia.

I’ve seen my friend uses Citibank as they have branches in Tokyo.  

Another method I’ve heard but haven’t tried is Western Union service.
It’s essentially an international money transfer service that’s able to send money rather swiftly.
They seem to have a few outlets in Tokyo that handles Western Union transaction so might as well check it out.


That's all for today before it gets too long-winded..... To be continued in Part III.

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