Boiling Blood

In today's English class we were talking about figurative language, and one of the expressions was "blood is boiling." When I asked for someone to try to use this new phrase, everyone was at a loss, so I had to come up with something.

Then I remembered last Thursday. At the bank.

Japanese banks are not known for their speed. As a matter of fact, there isn't really a less-customer-friendly institution here, except maybe the haughty, holier-than-thou, former-monopoly travel agent JTB.

But today's gripe is about banks.

I don't really like to complain, especially on this blog, which tries to be postive. But maybe as a starting off point for "exploring cultural differences" it might be educational.

Firstly, banks offer the astouding interest rate on savings accounts of about 0.01 PERCENT, meaning depositing a 10,000 yen note would yeild a whopping one yen after a year. One one-hundreth of a cent for a $100 deposit.

To be fair, loan rates are low. My car loan is about 3%. But that is 300 times more than the interest I could get by keeping my money there.

Anyway, I went to the bank (A bank, which shall remain nameless, but contains in its name a number between three and five...)

I went to the ~~bank to open an account to receive donations from I CAN. I had our "Hanko," which is the stamp or seal which works pretty much like a signature here.

It took about 10 minutes for them to explain how hard it would be to open a new account that had a different name from the account that was already on file.

Really? I didn't know a one person per account rule existed.

Finally, we aggreed to open an account with a parenthesis after the account name, saying "donations." That only took 15 minutes.

Then the clock started ticking.

10 minutes
Would I like a cash machine card? No, not needed.
................30 minutes
Mind you, this was to open an account with 100 yen (about a buck)
....................................45 minutes
..............................................50 minutes

Finally, after about almost an hour, being the only customer in the bank with a staff of about 20, I got my little passbook. The bank lady said,
"Omataseshimashita" ("Thanks for waiting") and I walked out, wondering what in the &)%&'!! would take so long.

My good friend Simon from New Zealand said, "I always just hoped there was so much more money 'in the system' that it took longer for things to run their course."

Simon gets kudos for positive thinking but unless the passbook is being hand engraved with golden lettering, I don't see why this has to be.

And the Japanese who live here are just compliant, used to it, and never realize that when a company has to send someone out for half a day "ginkko mawari" (Making the bank rounds) that time could probably be better spent at the company.

Does anyone know why Japanese banks are like this? Any other horror stories?

Later that day I was further encouraged by my dealings with the POWERS at City Hall.

Asking "Could I bring my poster for the event tomorrow instead of today?" sent me on a phone tag game that lasted again for 20 minutes.

NOT ONE person would tell me if this was "within the rules" or not. Finally, when I reached "the man in charge," when I asked what time the event started, he had to put me on hold again to ask (a superior?).

Sometimes I am amazed this country works as well as it does.

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