Table of content :
- Telephone "Line"
- Health Insurance
- More (hanko, meishi, ...)
(This is about long-term accommodation. For hotels, see the"travelling"section)
If you are a trainee or employee of a Japanese company, you will probablybe offered an accommodation, called dormitories (shataku), at acheap price (about ¥ 15000.-) like most of young Japanese employees.There are dormitories for singles and families.
If you work for a foreign company, you will probably have to find anaccommodation by yourself. There are several possibilities:
1. Danchi (low-rent apartment building, "HLM-like")
Such accommodations are cheap (about ¥ 30000.-) because they are sponsoredby the government.
There are two kinds of apartments: apaato and manshon. Forthe same surface, the former is cheaper, but the latter has usually somefacilities (air conditioning, stove...), moreover, they are built "Westernstyle" (i.e. concrete, ...).
You can either go directly to a real estate agency or look at the classified advertisements in newspapers. Apartments are referred as e.g. 2K, 2DK,3LDK... . What does it mean? For instance, 2LDK means that there 2are rooms plus a Dining-Kitchen. The L means that one ofthe rooms is a Living room without tatamis (Western style), whereasthe other one has tatamis. Sometimes you will see the total surface insquare meters and sometimes the number of tatamis (e.g. 6 tatamis = rokujoo).
Also be aware that you have to pay a very high amount just to enter,as there is a "thank-you" gift for the landlord. Normally, just toget in,you'll have to pay :
- one month's rent as a fee to the agent
- one month's rent as a deposit
- one or two month's rent in advance
- possibly up to three month's rent to the landlord as a non-returnable quot;thank-you"gift.
In both case, the real estate agency will ask you to have a guarantor (hoshoonin)in case you are not solvent. The guarantor can be a foreigner but it ismuch easier to ask a Japanese!
If you plan to stay in Japan for one or two years and need furniture youmay not want to spend a lot for it. There is a solution for that: get yourfurniture in a recycling shop (risaikuru-shop). Second-handshopswere very seldom in Japan but nowadays such shops are everywhere (at leastin and around big cities) and you can find their address in the local newspaperor in the telephone book. If you do not have a telephone book in Englishask a Japanese friend to help you. You can now really get cheap stuff ingood condition! Another way is to check both magazines, the "Tokyo Classified" and the "Tokyo Notice Board". There are plenty of advertisements.
Also, don't forget that space is a real problem in Japan and that your apartment will surely be very small.
If you are a trainee or an employee in a big industry, you'll probablyhave to live in a dormitory (shataku or ryoo). Here also,the situation can vary alot as there are :
- New and old dormitories : I know a friend whose dormitory was so old thatthewind could enter even if the windows were closed !
- Dormitories which are 5 min. from work and other 2 hours away from everything!
- Dormitories where there is one toilet and shower for each room and otherwherethere is not even a washbasin
- Dormitories with one person in a room and other where there are more thanone! (but I know no foreigner who was asked to share a room with someoneelse,they know that it's too much for a Westerner !)
- Dormitories with furnished rooms or "half-furnished" (i.e. just a bed or futon,a chair and a table)
4. Gaijin Houses
!! Under construction !!
There are several ways to get a telephone line:
- You can either buy a line to NTT for ¥ 76440.- (1999), or to a thirdperson for about ¥ 50000.-. You can find many advertisements eitherin "Tokyo Classified" or in "TokyoNotice Board". Both information magazines are free and available in manyrestaurants and kiosks in subway stations. It can then be as simple asgoing with the person you want to buy the line from to a NTT office andask for the name and address to be modified. This line belong to you forlife! Of course you can sell it in your turn!
- You can buy a mobile phone (keitai): PHS (Personal HandyPhone) or PDC (PersonalDigital Cellular). The former are almost free whereas you can get the latterfrom ¥ 10000.- . Then you need to pay the subscription and the communicationfees. PDCs are about 4 time more expensive than a normal line, that is40¥/3min. PHS works only in the big cities (Tokyo, Osaka...) and in thesubway while PDC does not work in the subway but in the whole country!
It is requested by law to be insured against sickness and injury inJapan.There are two types of insurance:
• private company insurance
• National Insurance
I was insured in Switzerland and I had to prove that "problems"thatcould arise in Japan were also covered. Below are some informationaboutthe National Insurance system :
- A non-Japanese person and his/er family can subscibe to such an insuranceifthey stay at least a year in Japan
- In general, the insured person has to pay 30 % of the bill. In some particularcases(treatment for young children, tuberculosis,...) the insurance willpayeverything.
- When the insured person has to pay a part of the medical treatments, thoselimitsapply (! subject to changes !) :
- For households that don't pay taxes (for example, people on grants) thelimitis fixed to ¥ 35'400 per month and per person.
- For households that pay taxes, this limit is ¥ 63'600 per month andperperson. Above those limits, it's the insurance who pays.
- This insurance is only valid in Japan ! So pay attention when you traveloutsideJapan, or when you return to your home country.
- The monthly primes are approximately ¥ 1'500 for a non-salaried person.
- In case of birth, a ¥ 300'000 prime is allocated.
- In case of death, a ¥ 70'000 prime is allocated.
More thorough information can be obtained at many city halls. Notice alsothatfigures mentioned here can be quickly outdated.
You also need to get two "accessories" which are mandatory for everyoneworkingin Japan : the "hanko" (personal seal) and the "meishi" (businesscard)
The Japanese don't "sign", but use a personal seal. As a foreigner, yoursignaturewill suffice in many cases, but not everywhere. For example,I had to havea hanko in order to be able to open a bank account. It'squite easy to getsuch a thing : shops selling them are everywhere. Butas you don't havea Japanese name, you cannot simply take one from theshelf. Two solutions: choose a Japanese name which sounds like yours (forexample, a friendcalled "Crochat" got the hanko of "Kuroda") or ask themto make a specialone for you, with your name in katakana or even kanjiif you can find thecorrect ones. Beware that the Japanese often mix familyname and given name!
You've certainly heard that the exchange of business cards in Japan isahighly codified act. Not having a "meishi" is like being nobody in Japan.Askwhere you work if there is a facility to make those cards. If not,you caneasily ask a specialised shop to print them for you. The best thingwillbe a bilingual one with Japanese on one side and English on the otherone.