I’ve used a couple of different ways to get money back to the states. Through my own Japanese bank, UFJ, you have to go to one of the main branches, like the Shibuya branch, and then sit in this funky little booth where you do a video conference with someone that will walk you through the process. The booth has a kiosk that is a computer monitor, video conference (camera), ATM, scanner and printer all in one. It was not very fun, it only runs 11am to 2pm or some crazy short hours like that and it was 4000 yen.
Well, the Lloyds service is much easier, at least if you have a Japanese account, maybe even if you don’t. What they do is setup a special account here that if you transfer money too will automatically have that money transferred to a pre-registered bank account of your choice. You can do transfers at most ATMs around Japan. Those ATMs run in Japanese so it can be intimidating to setup the transfer the first time but they give you instructions to hand to a Japanese speaking person if you can’t do it yourself. Also, most ATM systems memorize your info so the next time you’ll just pick the same info from a list and pick “OK”.
That’s far more convienent than the way I was doing it before. Unfortunately it’s not any less expensive at least for me. Lloyds charges 2000 yen, the bank they go through in the states charges $10 and making the local transfer in Japan costs like 650yen. That’s about 3800yen total. If you’re unlucky your final bank will also charge you. Still, at least now I can go down and transfer money at the ATM any time I need to.
If you know of a better and cheaper way please leave a comment!