There Are No ATMs in Kyoto Japan unless You Know Where to Look

 In Asia

Our friendly neighborhood post office in Kyoto

Before you jump all over me, I seriously did think that there were no working ATMs in Kyoto. I had stocked up on cash when we were in Osaka. When I went to get more cash out of the ATM in Kyoto and it rejected my card, I thought the machine must be broken.

We tried another machine. It rejected my card. Several machines I tried didn’t have an English option. At another ATM it said that it did not accept non-Japanese bank cards. I must have been to every ATM in eastern Kyoto. Finally I gave up. We were exhausted from a long day and I was starving. Meaning I was cranky. I’m not very pretty when I’m hungry and cranky. I certainly do not listen to reason.

I had enough coins to grab Dek a carton of milk to keep him happy for a bit. We headed to the nearest department store to see if they took Visa at the food counters. Thankfully, they did. We picked up some take out and headed home. I ranted and raved the entire time. How could such a progressive country not have ATMs that worked? Surely people should be protesting in the streets! What were we supposed to do? A lot of places didn’t take credit cards. Cash was essential for our trip.

Red mailboxes and this sign are clues to a post office

Like any normal person, I turned to the Internet. I did a simple search for “ATMs Kyoto.” Low and behold, a number of sites popped up. They all told me that international ATM cards do not work at any ATM machines in Japan, unless you are at a post office, 7-11 or were a Citibank customer. Well I had been to a number of 7-11s but none of them had an English option. We weren’t Citibank customers. As for the post office, well how the heck was I supposed to know that? We looked on our map and found a post office about a 10-15 minute walk away. We would head out first thing in the morning.

Walking down the street in the morning, I started grumbling again. What kind of city has post offices spaced so far apart? We were in a major metropolitan area. Shouldn’t there be more? I don’t know why I expected more. It’s not like Seattle has a post office every other block.

We walked 2 blocks down from our house and turned the corner to get to Shijo-dori. After about 10 paces, Mike looked up and said, “hey, isn’t that a post office?” Why yes, yes it was. I popped in, got as much cash as I could and we were on our way.

Moral of the story: do a little research on ATMs before you leave on your trip. It may save you a night of aggravation. It doesn’t hurt to be rational in the face of a minor crisis either. Our map only showed the main branches of the post office, not the smaller neighborhood offices.

Tip: if you plan on getting money from a post office, note that there are access hours. The ATM we went to was in the front portion of the post office, separated by doors to the major section of the office and street. However, the main doors to the building were locked by 7pm. Doors didn’t open again until 9am (I think). Hours are listed on the door in English.

Recommended Posts
Showing 5 comments
  • Mom

    It’s nice to know you can laugh at yourself as I know the grumbling, hungry tummy symptoms…ie. cranky, irrational attitude… is directly inherited from me. Who knew that the only real ATM’s (ie international) would be found in a post office, not a bank?

  • Kristina

    No, you aren’t alone with this problem. We had a similar issue one night in Tokyo. Fortunately, we found a Citibank. Also, we did have luck in 7-11, though not other convenience stores. That’s why I always carry 2 different ATM cards and I’ve started arriving in a new country with $100 in local currency. You never know…

  • Reply

    I remember you posting about your frustrations too. Argh! It was so nerve wracking. You are so wise to carry two ATM cards. Idiot that I am, I hadn’t put a pin on my credit card, so I only had the one card to use. I always have a little US currency in my wallet just in case I need to hit up an exchange for whatever reason. I actually got money out of a 7-11 ATM in Osaka. I think that’s why I was even more frustrated in Kyoto. Nothing seemed to be working and I didn’t know why.

  • Matt

    Good advice! We’ll have to check on the ATM situation in Indonesia. My wife suggests we get two sets of ATM cards as the ATM’s there frequently keep your card.

    • Reply

      Actually my husband’s card worked in one ATM machine when mine didn’t. We still aren’t sure why, but not a bad idea to have a variety of cards. I know our bank card fees were about $5 for each withdrawl, while our credit card didn’t charge us.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Nijo Castle Kyoto JapanSilver Pavilion Kyoto Japan