Going to a bank in Japan and getting a passbook is not a great and exciting experience to write a blog post but there are two reasons for this post.
Today during the lunch break, I went to the Mitsui Sumitomo Banking Corporation, SMBC branch office at Monzen Nakacho, Koto-Ku to get a new passbook. There was only one page left with the current passbook, which is the second passbook I hold ever since an account has been opened with the bank. I did not update the passbook for past 9 months. The last update was on 27 June 2015. The last page left with the passbook was not enough to get printed the whole transactions in the passbook and hence thought it was necessary to request for a new passbook. The passbook was necessary for me to cross-check the past transactions to confirm the school fee that I transferred from the bank. Updating the passbook (if enough pages are there) is possible at any ATM. I used to update passbook at the ATM installed inside my office building.
When it was necessary to go to the bank, one of my Japanese colleagues or friends who are
fluent in the Japanese language used to accompany me. I decided to go alone to the bank and request for a new passbook with the language I could manage. SMBC Monzen Nakacho branch is near to my office at Kiba. It took around 8 minutes to reach there by walk. Though Monzen Nakacho is the next station from Kiba towards Tokyo in Tozai line, I preferred to walk. While crossing a bridge constructed over a water course (guess, this river is one of the branches of Sumidagawa river), I could see some aged people looking at Sakura trees, which were full of buds. Sakura is expected to bloom in a few days.
At the entrance of the bank, there were two lady staffs welcoming and guiding customers. They assist people who are not familiar with the bank procedures or aged customers. As I entered, one lady staff approached, greeted and asked in English, how she could help me! She spoke in English, an experience, which I thought would never happen, where in the past I had to seek help from my colleagues to deal with the staff. This was the first reason I thought of writing about today’s experience. I explained the purpose of the visit in broken-Japanese though she could speak English.
I took out the bank passbook and handed over to her. The SMBC passbook has a cover page designed with green and white stripes. She guided me to an automatic passbook updating machine, which was installed at the entrance itself. It looked similar to an ATM but screen messages were different. She inserted the passbook inside the slot of that machine and told me to wait. The machine started its work showing a message on the screen. I could read the hiragana and simple Kanji appeared on the screen and guessed that the process of updating is going on and I needed to wait till it finishes. I thought the current passbook would be updated until the pages are finished and the bank staff will issue a new passbook manually.
After almost one minute the message on the screen changed. I tried to read that and understood that the meaning of the message that I need to wait more as the machine started processing the new passbook. It was a new knowledge to me that the machine issues a new passbook. That’s good and I don’t need to ask anybody next time for a new passbook. But to my surprise, when the updating process on the new passbook was also finished, an audio message came saying that the person in-charge (Kanrin-san) will come and verify. By this time, the lady staff came and after checking at the screen message called another staff, who was busy in her work inside the cabin. The Kanrin-san came and took the old and new passbooks from the machine and went the office. Before going, she handed over a waiting slip and told me to wait. She spoke in Japanese. While waiting for my turn at the counter, I tried to learn the Kanji for Mitsui Sumitomo Bank 三井住友銀行.
After less than 3 minutes, she called and handed over both old and new passbooks. The lady-
staff at the reception gave me two plastic covers to keep the passbooks safely from dirt. The whole process took less than 15 minutes. Getting a new passbook issued from Mitsui Sumitomo Bank was as simple as this and this was the second reason I thought of writing this post and share my experience with you all.