Ask at your bank to see if they have a point system. Joyo offers a system of points based on direct deposits and other transactions. If you accumulate over 100 points per month, you will be entitled to certain free services. Signing up for the point system is free, and your current number of points is displayed after every ATM transaction, so it might be a good idea to sign up for the point system to find out if you are likely to reach 100 points per month.
One of the services that becomes free if you reach 100 points is internet banking. Joyo offers online access to your account which will let you see your account balance, send bank transfers, make changes to your address, etc. They have a campaign right now that will give you free access to internet banking for 6 months, and after that you will have to pay 210 yen (unless you can accumulate 100 points each month).
You don't need a special card to use the "debit" system. A debit card is your cash card from your bank. While debit cards are not as popular as in Canada and the US, they are accepted at more than 17,000 locations in Japan. You can find a pamphlet in your bank -- possibly near the ATMs -- that will tell you which companies accept these cards. The pamphlet is in Japanese, so ask your Japanese-speaking friends to help you figure it out. (The debit system allows you to use your cash card to pay for things. The money comes directly out of your bank account at the time of the purchase, so it is not the same as a credit card.) One example of a company that accepts debit cards is Joyful Honda.
NOTE: Companies that are mentioned in "Toku Talk" are not being endorsed by Alien Times. This information is provided to give you an idea of what is available. You will need to do your own research to figure out what is best for you.
The International Women's Network (IWN) is a group of women who enjoy chatting with people from all over the world. We hold a monthly potluck dinner where we exchange information about the local community while eating a variety of foods. No reservation is needed to attend the potluck. Just bring one dish of food and show up at the meeting. Newcomers are always welcome! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to enjoy the international city of Tsukuba with us!
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