Friday, January 02, 2009

Trouble with Japanese ATMs

Here's some advice. If you ever go to Japan and you happen to be visiting over the New Year's day holiday season, make sure you have enough cash on you for the three day period from January 1st through January 3rd. As I unfortunately discovered, all the ATMs that support foreign (i.e. non-Japanese) ATM cards are automatically shut down for this three day period! I even made a pilgrimage to Nomura Securities in Naha, which supposedly had two 7-Bank ATMS (they are usually found in 7-Eleven stores, but there aren't any 7-Elevens in Okinawa) and according to their web site, these were open every day - even holidays - but these too were closed.

Fortunately, we do have enough cash to squeak by for the rest of the trip - we only need to eat 3 more meals and our credit cards still work - but it was a bit of a shock to discover ALL the ATMs we could use were no longer functioning.

Another oddity in Japan is their ATMs do not operate 24/7. Most only work during specific hours of the day. Some even have automatic sliding corrugated metal doors that close when the ATMs shut down for the night. The doors do close very very slowly, so no one should realistically ever get trapped inside, but still it was a bit odd to see all the machines power off at the same time and then the main entry door start to close for the night.