What are you willing to drop 7000 yen on? On Tuesday I dropped 7000 yen on… the street. I was compelled to pay 112,800 yen into my Japanese National Pension Fund. I didn’t have my hanko with me at the bank, so I could not directly transfer the funds. I took 120,000 yen (twelve 10,000 yen bills) from the cash machine and paid the teller, happy to receive 7200 yen in pocket money for groceries and such. I clipped the receipts and the paper money together before sticking them in my pocket. After receiving praise on my Japanese from the teller and a customer, I rode home. As soon as I entered the house I emptied my pockets on the table and relaxed for a bit.
Rainman-like powers kicked in; as soon as I put my things down, there was a sense that something was wrong. Later that sense grew and grew until I couldn’t relax anymore. Returning to the table, I noticed that the cash was only equal to what had been in my pocket the night before and there were no receipts. Worrying about my sanity I pondered how the money could disappear from a deep pocket on a one kilometer bike ride. Finally, I decided that as I was putting the two hundred yen coins in my money pouch (and being distracted by flattery) I must have forgotten the bills on the counter.
Wednesday morning we called the bank at opening time only to hear that they had nothing there; although they remembered me and my transaction. Wednesday night, I realized I should check with the police and see if anyone had turned in my missing cash. Unfortunately they were out on patrol. Thursday after work I thought I would try again, but when I returned home there was an envelope from the police station. It was a note requesting I come by and identify something. Japanese people’s impression of themselves bubbled to the surface at this point.
My feeling is that most Japanese people are very honest and will usually return someones wallet or purse if they drop it or forget it. However, most of them seem to think that Japanese people won’t do the right thing. Most people with whom I discussed this insisted that I had no chance of recovering my money. Even after getting the note from the cops, most people thought I would arrive at lost and found to receive only my receipts. I felt that an honest person would return everything and a dishonest person would take the money and throw the receipts away. Once again Japanese honesty won out, I collected my money this afternoon. Furthermore, the finder refused any compensation.
This took me back to my wonderful experience about two years back.