Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mastering the Furikomi

Although my Japanese is coming along, there are certain conveniences that I don't utilize because the language barrier seems too intimidating. Until today, the furikomi (or bank to bank transfer) was one of these conveniences. This is a secure and convenient method of payment to both businesses and individuals. You can do it directly from the ATM, but our bank does not provide this option in English. Please understand if I feel a bit insecure about sending money from our bank account somewhere into the electronic ether and hope it ends up at the right destination when the button I'm pushing could well be to "initiate rocket launch."

Today I conquered one of my Japanese fears and initiated a furikomi transfer. I found a bundle of nice-looking, lightly used and unused summer baby clothes on craigslist for about $15, but I did not want to spend nearly 2 hours round trip to pick them up. After finding a very helpful guide on the excellent, but soon to be defunct Surviving in Japan blog, I gave it a try. The seller gave me the relevant details to safely transfer to her account, I went to the ATM, put in the details in Japanese, and with a $3 interbank surcharge later, it will wind up in her account. I did confirm with a staffperson that I had selected the right bank and was not initiating a rocket launch. Next the seller will take the items to the convenience store and send them via cash on delivery. She anticipates that delivery will cost only a few dollars and will probably arrive tomorrow or Friday. Both the surcharge and delivery are small prices to pay for the convenience of a 2 minute transaction. It's also good practice to use this in advance of buying more expensive items or trying to sell our items before we leave in September.

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