Japanese convenience stores really do have everything, from beautiful desserts that look like a slice of crystal-blue water to craft beer bars. But just when we thought they couldn’t get any more awesome, one convenience store chain has apparently added its most amazing amenity of all: time machines.
On Sunday, Japanese Twitter user @RIORAO stopped into a branch of convenience store chain Lawson, where he used the in-store ATM to deposit some cash into his bank account. However, the machine informed him that due to a banking holiday, the funds wouldn’t show up in his account that day.
Instead, according to the photo @RIORAO tweeted above, the funds would be transferred on May 7, 1989.
“Right now, you can use Lawson ATMs to transfer money to the past,” tweeted @RIORAO, and other commenters were quick to marvel at this convenient application of space-time manipulation.
“Are you a time traveler?”
“I was still a starving student in 1989, so I’d like to send my old self a few extra bucks.”
“In 1989 I was working in the bubble economy, so I’d rather have my old self transfer some of the excess cash I didn’t need then to me here in the present.”
“Hey, May 7, 1989 is the day I was born!”
“’The Deposit that Leapt Through Time!?’”
▼ A Lawson ATM
However, Lawson is indeed just a humble convenience store chain, and not a complex cover for a network of super-science agents who slip through the ages keeping us safe from time crimes. As such, what’s going on here is actually a programming glitch, and not a way to create an alternate timeline in which we’re all filthy rich.
As mentioned above, a banking holiday, coinciding with the Golden Week spring vacation period, is what’s keeping the funds from being transferred the same day @RIORAO was feeding the cash into the ATM. Golden Week isn’t the only big event going on in Japan this week, though. The even bigger story is the abdication of Emperor Akihito.
In Japan, the reign of each emperor is marked by an era name. For example, the era name for Akihito’s reign has been Heisei, which began at the moment of his coronation in 1989. Because of that, in Japan 1989 can also be referred to as Heisei 1, 1990 as Heisei 2, and so on, making 2019 also Heisei 31.
In modern Japan, most people use the Western naming convention for years in casual conversations, but the imperial era year system is commonly used in legal and financial documents. That includes many banking forms and systems, while the Lawson ATM user display shows Western years, apparently its internal programming runs on the imperial calendar, and that’s where the time travel glitch gets triggered.
Ordinarily, the ATM’s logic would go like this:
● Funds received April 28, Year 31
● Funds to be transferred May 7, Year 31
● Display May 7, Year 31 as “May 7, 2019”
There’s one problem, though. On May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito becomes emperor, the era name will change to Reiwa, and Japan will be in the year Reiwa 1. Apparently the Lawson ATMs have been updated to understand that, and so the machine registers the transferred money on May 7, Year 1. However, apparently the process to convert the imperial year to the Western year that the display shows wasn’t part of the update, and so the ATM is converting Year 1 as though it were Heisei 1, or 1989.
That answer leads to an even bigger question: Internally, is the banking network the ATM is connected to taking Year 1 to mean Reiwa 1 or Heisei 1? Will the transfer be recorded as happening in 2019 despite the user display saying otherwise, or is the banking system actually going to try to process the deposit as though it was made 30 years ago, and if it does, will @RIORAO suddenly be the recipient of three decades of accrued interest, at least until the bank flags it as an irregularity and makes a correction?
Those are just some of the things we’ll have to wait until the Reiwa period to find out.
Source: Twitter/@RIORAO via Jin
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