ATM cash corner, Nishi Shinjuku subway station, Tokyo.
In spite of the credit cards and the myriad other cards that help make up the consumer scene in Japan, it is still a predominantly cash-oriented society. In fact, over half of Japan's gargantuan national wealth is said to be in the form of cash and savings, as opposed to barely 15% in the United States.
Tansu yokin, literally 'chest of drawer savings' is still popular here, meaning a huge amount hoarded at home, sometimes literally under mattresses. News stories sometimes surface of people who have accidentally thrown out millions in the garbage during a spring clean.
ATMs are therefore everywhere. From the middle of this decade there has been a massive increase of them in stations, making for much more convenience than a few years ago when they were mainly limited to banks and operated within restricted hours.
Listen to the dulcet cyber tones of a Japanese ATM's voice as a customer beep-beep-beeps through a withdrawal.
May 1, 2006.