I’m pretty happy living in Japan. Things go smoothly, and although most people don’t speak English (or don’t dare to even though they understand), they are very helpful throughout. But every now and then, things go wrong – annoyingly so.
About three months ago, I got a letter from my bank asking me to check and update the details I gave them when I opened my account. They do this every now and then because you must be a resident to have a bank account. It shouldn’t be a big deal. This time, I had to go to the bank anyway and thought I could take care of this in the branch instead of online. So, I handed in my letter, my ID and bank card to a clerk and was asked to wait. For a long time. 30 minutes. At the end of which I was asked to please go online and do it myself.
I was rather annoyed. Not because of the answer as such, but because she wasted my time. Surely, figuring out that she can’t do that for me doesn’t take half an hour? Of course, in Japan, getting loud doesn’t get you anywhere. The only thing it accomplishes is that they stop talking and at the end of your rant simply repeat what they told you in the beginning – an excellent strategy by the way. So I simply told the clerk that I was annoyed with her wasting my time. She apologised – what else was she supposed to do – and I left – what else could I do.
In an attempt to get all passive-aggressive, I waited until a couple of days before the deadline to go online and fill in the form. I thought I had cooled down sufficiently to deal with it but no – more obstacles. The form, while technically rather easy to deal with, is entirely in Japanese. Not even furigana so I could decipher the kanji more easily. Just to make this clear: This is not a form that any Japanese ever has to fill out, it’s exclusively for foreign residents. Thankfully, google translate does help with a bit of copy/paste and it took me a mere 20 minutes to fill everything in. All is good.
Or so I thought.
Because just the other day, I received another letter asking me to fill in the very same form from 3 months ago. What? I have no idea what’s going on. Either I made a mistake, which is entirely possible because there is no real right or wrong answer to “what are you going to do with your account” (with the possible exception of “use it to launder money for the Yakuza”). Or, another possibility is that some smartass actually looked at my answers and saw that the first deadline was just before my visa renewal date and he wanted to make sure I’m still in the country because that’s what the whole form is good for.
So, I’m back to square one. Dear Bank of Kyoto – when it comes to passive-aggressive, you win. Hands down.