Changing Your Information or Canceling Your Utilities

For about two years Mr. J and I were using portable wi-fi through E Mobile, and besides being unable to torrent, we liked their unlimited usage service.  Then a couple of months ago they sold or merged with the company Yahoo! Mobile, and with it our contract was suddenly changed to a more expensive, 10 GB data limit plan.  After maxing out our usage mid-month both last month and this month, we decided to cancel and go with a different provider.  At the same time, a co-worker friend of mine quit the main company I work for, and because she doesn’t speak much Japanese I’ve been helping her take care of canceling her electricity and gas.

If you’ve been living on your own, before relocating to a different part of Japan or moving back home, and besides the inevitable packing and sending your stuff, you’ll probably need to cancel or change your address on all of your utilities as well.  While the process can be a bit annoying, thankfully it’s not too difficult.

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Making the Big Move: Furnishing Your New Home

So you’ve settled on your new pad, moved in, and now there’s empty or mostly empty walls staring back at you.  What to do?  Thankfully, you’ve got a lot of options.  Japan is home to some of the smallest living spaces in the modern world, and every year furniture and interior design companies come out with new and creative ways to make the most of your space.

If you’ve got the budget, anything is possible.  Even if you don’t, you’re not out of luck.  Here are some ways to maximize your budget when furnishing your new home:

© Hitorigurashi Interior no Zipang.com

There’s a ton of ways to work with your space no matter the size. Here’s a stylish, one room apartment set up.
© Hitorigurashi Interior no Zipang.com

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Making the Big Move: Apartment Hunting (Part 2)

Have an idea of the kind of property you’d like to rent?  If not, check out Part 1!  If so, you’re ready to start tackling some of the hurdles you might encounter when you visit a real estate agency.  These places are called fudōya or fudōya-san in Japanese.

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Making the Big Move: Apartment Hunting (Part 1)

© BIGLOBE

What a typical real estate agency looks like in Japan.
© BIGLOBE

As I wrote in my previous post, apartment hunting in Japan can be tricky.  This first step is understanding what kind of properties in Japan are available.  Unless you plan on staying here for many, many years you’ll be looking for rental property, called chintai bukken.  There are three main types:

  1. apartments, called apaato – These are generally older apartments made of wood.  Due to building regulations they can’t exceed two or three floors, unless under special circumstances.
  2. mansion-style apartments, called manshon – Don’t let the name fool you, you won’t be getting a real mansion!  These are the most popular because they’re generally newer properties and made of stronger materials like reinforced concrete.  Mansion-style apartments are usually four stories or higher, and it’s not uncommon to see high-rise mansion-style apartment complexes with 10 to 20 floors or more, especially in big cities.
  3. stand-alone properties, called ikkodate or kashiya – These are usually houses for lease but sometimes include maisonette-style rental properties.

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Making the Big Move: Finding Home

Apartment hunting and moving into a new place is a pretty daunting process anywhere, especially in Japan.  If you don’t know what to look for in a property, you may end up with a dud.  Once you get stuck with a bad property, there’s not much you can do but stick it out for awhile unless you have a lot of money to throw around; moving will set you back a few hundreds of thousands of yen (a few thousand USD) each time or more.  My husband and I lived in two duds before finally settling into the place we now call home. Continue reading

Making the Big Move: Let’s Talk Visas

There are many ways to move to Japan, but pretty much all of them require getting your hands on a visa.  With the exception of a few special countries, you’ll need a visa if you plan on staying longer than 90 days or 3 months in Japan.

Requirements for applying and being granted a visa depend on what kind of agreement Japan has with the country your passport is issued from.  Requirements also depend on what kind of visa you’re seeking.  The following sites are very useful reading:

During my stay I’ve had three different kinds of visas and all of them required jumping through different hoops to get my hands on. Continue reading