Living in Japan

Moving in Japan [FULL CHECKLIST]

Moving in Japan can be tough. 

Not only is there a ton of things to do, but everything is also in Japanese, which makes the process much harder than it really should be. 

I recently completed a move from Tokyo to Chiba and did all the research, so I decided to take the opportunity to also write an English guide for any other foreigner in Japan that might be going through the same process!

Before the Move

1. Cancel Your Current Lease

Once you sign the contracts for your new lease, the first step is to cancel your old one. Make sure to have at least a couple of day of overlap between your new and old place for moving all your stuff. 

A note of warning: most housing contracts in Japan have a minimum length of 1 or 2 years, so if you cancel your contract, you may have to pay a penalty fee.  

2. Book a Moving Company

Once your window of moving date is confirmed, the next step is to decide how you will move everything. 

There’s the option of going with a moving company or getting a rental car. The moving company is the easier option while the rental car is the more affordable option. 

Either way, you’ll want to book this at least a month before moving to secure a vehicle and get the best value. 

3. Transfer Your Internet Service

Starting or stopping internet services may require construction for some older buildings. This is because they have to manually connect the fiber optic cables to your room. And the process for that may require making appointments up to a month in advance. 

In other cases, starting or stopping your home internet services can be done by giving a call and mailing back the router. 

And in other cases where internet is provided by the building, you won’t need to do anything at all. 

4. Make an Appointment for Large Trash Pickup

Around a month before the move, you’ll want to start sorting out what to throw away and what to keep. 

If you have any large trash, called sodai gomi (粗大ゴミ) in Japanese, you’ll need to make an appointment with your city or ward’s waste disposal center. When making the appointment, you’ll need to specify what item you’ll be throwing away and purchase the appropriate “waste” stickers for each item.

However, not everybody can know for sure what exactly they will throw away or not so early on in the moving process, so there are a couple of alternatives for this.

Solution #1: Sell it at a Recycle Shop

Instead of paying to get rid of your sodai gomi, you can try to first bring it to a recycle shop to see if they’ll take it. These shops don’t pay much for each item, even if it’s brand new, so don’t expect a huge profit. 

Solution #2: Give it away at an Online Free Market

There are many buy and sell Facebook groups for different regions of Japan. You can also try your luck and sell the item, and you might earn a higher profit than selling at a recycle shop. 

Another alternative is to try selling it on Mericari or Rakuma, which are the Ebay of Japan.

Solution #3: Make an Appointment with a Private Collection Company

If the days are closing in and you still haven’t gotten rid of your sodai gomi, it might be too late to set up a sodai gomi appointment. 

In this case, you can go with a private trash collection company, which often take last minute bookings and will pick it up from inside your home so you don’t need to go through the effort of taking the furniture out. 

This is however, more expensive than the government company, so this is more of a last resort. 

5. Set Up Mail Forwarding at the Post Office

The Japan Post Post Office offers a mail forwarding service, where they’ll gather any mail for your old home, with your name on it, and redirect it to your new home. 

This service lasts for up to one year and is completely free. This gives you the time to update your address info in various places at your own pace. 

6. Transfer Your Utilities

Before leaving your old house, you’ll need to either cancel your old utilities or transfer them to your new place. In most cases, you can do this online, but if not, then it can be done over the phone. 

Water utilities are handled by the government, so if you’re moving within the same ward or city, you’ll just need to transfer them. Electricity and gas are managed by private companies, so whether you’ll need to switch or transfer companies depends on your housing. 

When starting or stopping gas utilities, you’ll need someone from the company to come and do a safety inspection, so don’t forget to make an appointment for that as well. 

7. Submit a Move Out Notification at the Ward Office

When moving out, you’ll have to let the local government know that you’ll no longer be living there. To find the nearest ward office (kuyakusho, 区役所), you can search on Google Maps “(city name) 区役所”. 

The Move-Out Notification Form is call Tenshutsu Todoke (転出届け) and you’ll need to bring your resident’s card and health card. 

The ward office is usually open only during normal business hours on weekdays, so if you’re a student or work a full time job, then you’ll have to take some time off to complete this process. 

Also for those moving in the same ward, you’ll also have to fill this out as well, but you can skip the move in notification form after you move into your new house. 

After the Move

Congratulations on moving into your new wonderful home! There’s a few more things to do!

1. Check Your Utilities

The first thing to do after moving into a new home is to check if the utilities are working. Do a quick run-through to see if your electricy, water, and gas is working. A safety inspection from the gas company is required before you can start using gas, so confirm that you made an appointment for that. 

In case any one of them isn’t working, it’s always better to find out sooner than later.

2. Submit a Move In Notification at the Ward Office

The next step is to submit a move in notification at your new ward office. You’ll fill out a form called the Tennyu Todoke (転入届け) and once again, you’ll need your resident’s card and health card. 

You’re finished there once they stamp your new address to your resident’s card and you’re now an official resident of your new home!

3. Update Your Address Info

Last but not least, you’ll have to update your address information EVERYWHERE. 

If you filled out a mail forwarding application at the Japan Post Office, you have a full year to get this done, but it’s easy to forget, so it’s best to get these done as soon as possible. 

Finished!

Congratulations! You should be proud of yourself as you’ve successfully completed your move in Japan! There were a ton of things to do but you pushed through and now you live in a new, beautiful home!

Ways to celebrate Christmas in Japan

メリークリスマス!
Merry Christmas everyone!
 
Christmas is near and it’s that time of the year to gather at the fireplace, open Santa’s thoughtful gifts, and have a lovely family Christmas dinner!
 
Christmas is celebrated in Japan too and you can feel the holiday spirits here in Tokyo! However, when it comes to Japanese Christmas traditions, things are very different compared to western countries. 
 
KFC is the main food for Christmas, it’s not a day off for schools and offices, and people tend to celebrate with their loved ones rather than their families! You could say that Japan has its own way of celebrating Christmas. If you’re curious about these differences, check out our Youtube video for more!

That isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy Christmas in Japan, so in this article, we will explore some of those differences as well as many different ways that you can enjoy Christmas in Japan!

go Watch some illuminations

In Japan, people don’t decorate their homes. Rather, public places like malls and parks are the ones being decorated and they are on another level. Since Japan is a business-oriented country, lots of big companies see Christmas as a good way to market and attract people, so they compete with one another to get the biggest and baddest Christmas setup. 

Seriously, they are nothing short of AMAZING. 

The quality of these illuminations (light decorations) are up there with Disneyland. There are many different places that have illuminations, so I highly recommend stopping by one!

Visit a Christmas Markets

One Christmas tradition that Japan has successfully adopted is Christmas markets (perhaps due to Japan’s love for beer)! Most Christmas Markets in Tokyo also have amazing illuminations which makes it a magical experience (great for dates). 

Most markets are open all through December, so come stop by, eat some hot dogs or takoyaki, sip on some hot chocolate or beer, and enjoy the Christmas holidays!

Christmas Markets are always a fun time for everyone!

eat strawberry shortcake

The Christmas fruitcake equivalent in Japan is the strawberry shortcake. 
If you’ve ever had cake or been to a bakery in Japan, you should already know that Japan’s pastries are INCREDIBLE
 
Nothing else needs to be said. 

Have your own christmas get together with a nabe party

KFC gets packed and if you’re celebrating Christmas in Japan, why not celebrate with Japanese food?
 
Nabe, aka Japanese hotpot, is the staple winter food in Japan and is sold at pretty much every supermarket. It’s super easy to make, has lots of nutrients, and warms up your body. 
 
What can be better than gathering friends and family at the Kotatsu table and sharing a big pot of nabe? 

go snowboarding

Another great way to celebrate Christmas can be on the slopes!
 
Japan is made up of 80% or so mountains and there are literally thousands of ski resorts in this island country. If you love skiing or snowboarding, you can check out our most recommended ski resorts in Japan!
 

Share some gifts

Christmas is the season of giving and while you’re in Japan, why not get a Japanese gift for a loved one? Since Japan is all about business, there are many high-quality Christmas gifts you can find in Japan. Around Christmas time, you can find gifts being sold everywhere from big shopping malls to the middle of the JR station. 
 
This Christmas, show a loved one how much they mean to you!

Conclusion

The Christmas traditions are different in Japan, but that doesn’t mean that the Christmas spirit isn’t there! Wherever you are in the world, I hope that Santa comes by with many presents and that you have a wonderful Christmas season this year!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Explaining the Go To Campaign

The Japanese government started to pay people to travel during the coronavirus. 

Sounds crazy? Maybe so.

In July of 2020, The Japanese government launched a campaign called the Go To Campaign where they would subsidize up to 20,000 yen per night per travel. This was combat the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Japan’s solution for recovering the economy was the Go-To Campaign where they subsidize up to 20,000 yen per night per hour. 

Let’s take a deeper look.

Why did they start the go to Campaign?

In 2020, the Coronavirus (covid-19) impacted the world and people’s daily lives have changed completely. Masks started becoming mandatory, social distancing became a daily practice, and travel was no longer an option. 

As many of you may know, Japan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. On top of this, they spent around 12.6 billion US dollars to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because they expected an additional 10 million tourists. 

However, instead of an increase, there was a 99.9% drop in tourists because of the coronavirus. So in order to save the travel industry, as well as the whole economy, the Japanese government invested 12.9 trillion yen into the Go To Campaign to increase domestic travels and support businesses nationwide.

who qualifies for the go-to campaign?

Anyone in Japan qualifies for the Go To Campaign. You don’t have to be Japanese and regardless of visa type, anyone who is in Japan at the current moment is able to take advantage of this campaign.

go to campaign details

The Go To Campaign started in July 22,2020 for residents and travelers that are outside of Tokyo. Because Tokyo had the most number of covid-19 infections (and people), the government supported any type of travels that were outside of this urban metropolis. 

However, the campaign didn’t see much results because most middle/upper class citizens lived in Tokyo (aka rich people). As a result, they included Tokyo into the Go To Campaign starting October 1, 2020.

How much does the go to campaign cover?

 The Go To Campaign covers up to 20,000 yen, or up to half the price, per night per person for travels in Japan. The campaign also covers day trips up to 10,000 yen per personThere are also unlimited times that you can use it, which is what makes it so attractive.

From the discounted cost, 35% of it goes to travel costs, which are hotel, transportation, and travel agency fees. The remaining 15% goes to other expenses at the destination, which includes food and shopping. 

So to fully understand how this works, let’s go over some scenarios. 

Travel cost scenarios

Scenario 1: Travels cost 40,000 yen per night

If your travels cost 40,000 per night, you get a 14,000 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 6,000 yen worth of local vouchers.

Scenario 2: Travels cost 10,000 yen per night
If your travels cost 10,000 per night, you get a 3,500 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 1,500 yen worth of local vouchers.
Scenario 3: Travels cost 50,000 yen per night
If your travels cost 50,000 per night, since the upper limit is 20,000, you get a 14,000 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 6000 yen worth of local vouchers.

day trip scenarios

Scenario 1: Day Trip costs 20,000 yen
If your day trip costs 20,000 yen, you receive a 7,000 yen discount and 3,000 yen worth of local vouchers.
 Scenario 2: Day Trip costs 5,000 yen
If your day trip costs 5,000 yen, you receive a 1,750 yen discount and 750 yen worth of local vouchers.
Scenario 2: Day Trip costs 30,000 yen
If your day trip costs 30,000 yen, it’s the same scenario as Scenario 1 and you receive a 7,000 yen discount and 3,000 yen worth of local vouchers. 

When does the go to campaign end?

The Go To Campaign ends when the funds are exhausted, which is estimated to be around the end of January 2021. However, the funds are being used faster than expected, so there is a possibility that the government will add more funds to this campaign to last until the end of January.

local vouchers during your travels

When traveling, the Japanese government also wants you to support the local businesses as well, so they provide the remaining 15% subsidization in the form of local vouchers which are either in paper or electronic form, depending on the accommodation and how you book your travels.

Paper vouchers

Paper vouchers, you receive at the accommodation and they look something like this.

(source: goto.jata-net.or.jp)

On the vouchers is the official Go To Campaign logo, price of the voucher, prefectures where you can use the voucher, and the expiration dates. 

Electronic vouchers

If you don’t receive a physical voucher at your accommodation, then your vouchers are most likely online and you can access them here.

When you’re filling out your information to access your electronic vouchers, you’ll need a couple of information:

  • Booking agency ID (ID lookup table)
  • Reservation confirmation number
  • Prefecture

Every time you open a new browser to access your coupons, you’ll need to input this information so make sure to have your info ready before making a purchase!

how to use the local vouchers

You can only use the local vouchers at your destination prefecture and it’s neighbors. As for stores, it has to be somewhere that’s registered with the Go To Campaign.

On the Go To Campaign website, there’s a map that shows you shops that accept them, and what type of coupons they accept. There’s a huge variety in the type of shops that accept coupons. They range from convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, drugstores, and shopping centers. Note that once you use the coupons, you don’t get back change, so be careful.

From our experience, most places accepted the paper coupons, but we had a hard time finding somewhere that accepted the electronic ones.

How to use the Go to Travel Campaign 

In order to receive the go to travel benefits during your travels, you need to book your travels through a registered travel agency or booking company. There are two scenarios when it comes to using the Go To Travel Campaign: booking a travel package or booking your travels separately. 

If you book your travels separately, meaning you book your hotel, transportation, and activities separately, the Go To Discount usually only applies to your hotel. On the contrary, if you decide to go with a travel package, the Go To Discount applies to the travel package and everything it may contain. This usually includes transportation and hotel. However, the drawbacks of a package are that there’s less freedom of choice, there’s a travel agency fee attached, and it often includes a middle to high-end hotel which may not fit budget travelers. 

where to book your travels

Unfortunately, many booking agencies and platforms in Japan are in Japanese, but there are some that offer English. Here’s a list of recommended travel agencies to consider for the Go To Travel Campaign. 

  1.  Nippon Travel Agency (English available)
  2.  Japan Wonder Travel (English available)
  3. Booking.com (English website)
  4.  H.I.S (English available)
  5.  Jalan.net (Japanese only)
  6. Yahoo! Travels (Japanese only)
  7. JTB (Japanese only)

what is go to eats campaign?

The GO To Eats campaign is another variation of the Go to campaign to support local businesses, for those that aren’t traveling. When you make an online reservation with the Go To Eats Campaign, you receive back points which you can use for different purchases later on. 

For lunch reservations you receive 500 yen worth of points per person and for dinner, you receive 1000 yen worth of points per person. However, in order to receive the point benefits of this campaign, there are 2 conditions:

  • make an online reservation with an official registered reservation service
  • register your point card with your account.
As for the type of points, it comes in existing 
 
For the points, it’s existing point systems. (T-point, Docomo, Rakuten, etc.)
Some online reservation service include:
As for the type of points, it’s in whichever form the online reservation site uses. For example, I used Tabelog and I received T-points, which can be used in places like Family Mart, Yoshinoya, and Maruetsu. 

The Go To Eats Campaign is estimated to last until January 2021 and the points can be used until March 2021.

safety precautions for covid-19

This campaign is a great way to go out and experience travels and dining that you haven’t been able to try, but let’s not forget that the coronavirus is still around. Whenever you go out, always make sure to:
  • wear a mask
  • use hand sanitizers frequently
  • avoid big groups
  • any other precautions that could help lower the infection rates as possible

conclusion

The Go To Campaign comes in many different variations and it’s definitely a good way to boost the economy. By practicing safety precautions while also spending, we can help bring up the Japan economy together while also having a good time!
I hope that this information was useful to everyone and don’t forget to wear a mask!
 
Also feel free to share this information with anyone else that might be interested in the Go To Campaign!