Post-Arrival

Welcome to Okinawa! You must be feeling excited and overwhelmed with everything you’re facing at the moment. The following list of items should comprise your top priorities when arriving in Okinawa. Your supervisor or ALT Coordinator should help you with these. For some of you, your supervisor will work with you at your base school. For others, your supervisor will be a department head at your local city/town/village hall or office. Wherever your supervisor is located, it is important to learn his/her name and obtain his/her contact info. They will most likely be in charge of your school scheduling and will be responsible of informing you of important contractual events throughout the year.

1. Residence Card (在留カード zairyuu kaado)
2. Make a Stamp (印鑑 inkan / 判子 hanko)
3. Find an Apartment
4. Set Up Utilities
5. Proof of Address Form (住民票 jyuuminhyou)
6. Getting a Cell Phone (携帯 keitai)
7. Set Up a Bank Account
8. Set Up Internet


1. Residence Card (在留カード zairyuu kaado)

JETs arriving after July 9, 2012 will each received a residence card upon arriving at Narita Airport. You will need this card to take care of a few post-arrival errands such as purchasing a cell phone and opening a bank account. Foreign residents in Japan must carry this card with them AT ALL TIMES.

This residence card also serves as a re-entry permit for JETs when traveling outside of Japan, so long as you return within one year of your departure date and it is within the period of stay stated on the card. You cannot apply for an extension of the period of stay outside of Japan.


2. Make a Stamp (印鑑 inkan / 判子 hanko)

Inkans are used in place of signatures in Japan. After you make an inkan, you will need to register it at your bank as your legal inkan. It will be necessary for setting up most accounts or signing important contracts or forms. They can be ordered at local inkan shops and can be ready within a few days. Some municipal offices do not accept katakana inkans, so you may want to ask your predecessor or supervisor beforehand. Most JETs prefer to use their first names. Prices of inkans start at 1,500 yen. Consider your inkan to be one form of personal identification. There is a high chance your BoEs or schools will create one for your before you arrive. DO NOT LOSE YOUR INKAN OR USE IT ON ANYTHING OTHER THAN OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS.

NOTE: Without your Residence Card and Inkan you cannot get many things in Japan (a bank account, mobile phone, car registration etc.).  When arriving in Okinawa, these are the first 2 things you need to take care of. We will do our best to make sure your Supervisor knows how to go about getting these things done.


3. Find an Apartment

Necessary Documents:
Residence Card
Bank Account (for automatic withdrawal)

Hopefully, this has already been arranged for you before your arrival, but if not please do not panic. Meet your landlord (fudosan) with your supervisor. Your supervisor should go over the lease with you so that you understand everything you and the landlord is responsible for. Get two copies of the key. Make sure you know all of the building’s policies before signing the contract.

For those of you without housing readily available, do not panic…there are lots of apartments in Okinawa and many JETs have successfully found apartments after arriving in Okinawa. Many people found apartments within the first 2 days. While they were searching they either stayed at a cheap business hotel at their own expense (3,000-5,000yen a night) , stayed with another JET in the area, or stayed with their Supervisor (or another staff member) until they found an apartment they liked. This might sound like a nightmare, but there are many positives: 1) you can choose an apartment that fits your preferences 2) you don’t automatically pay key money (moving in fees) for an apartment you’ve never even seen before.

For more information on the process of finding an apartment, please refer to the Welcome Handbook.

e-uchina.net (JPN)


4. Set Up Utilities

Necessary Documents:
Bank Book (for automatic withdrawals)
Phone Number (cell)

Your supervisor is expected to help you with these. Automatic bank withdrawals are the most popular way to pay these monthly bills. However, if you would rather pay in person, most bills can be taken care of at any convenient store or ATM.

Helpful Words to Know:

Gas ガス gasu
Electricity 電気 denki
Water mizu
Phone (landline) 電話 denwa

Phone lines can be purchased directly from NTT, rented or purchased from an agency, or bought privately. Mobile phones (keitai) are another popular option and there are many to choose from that offer such things as email and English displays.


 5. Proof of Address Form (住民票 jyuuminhyou)

Necessary Documents:
Residence Card
An address

You can get a proof of address form from your city hall. You will need this form to open cell phone contracts, move in to a new apartment, or register your car. It is advised to get around 3 copies if possible.


6. Getting a Cell Phone (携帯 keitai)

Necessary Documents:
Residence Card or
Proof of Address Form

Most people in Japan carry a keitai (cell phone), even your students in junior and senior high will have one. They are a full part of modern Japanese society and are becoming more sophisticated everyday.

Keitai plans are quite different from other countries, so ask your supervisor (or someone else who speaks Japanese) to come with you when so that you can understand the charges and rate plans and choose the one that you think will suit you the most.

There are 3 major keitai companies in Japan: AU, Docomo and SoftBank. All of the companies are quite similar but do offer different models and services. When you are looking at models, be sure to ask if the phone is bilingual (meaning it has English and Japanese capabilities). Most of the newer and more fancier models are only in Japanese but there are lots and lots of models that have lots of interesting gadgets and devices that have English capabilities.

Rather than purchasing a brand new phone and opening a phone plan, another option is to open a plan with a sim-card and use it in an unlocked phone. You will need the help of your coordinator to navigate this option. Some useful sites is OCN Mobile One and MVNO.


7. Set Up a Bank Account

Necessary Documents:
Residence Card or
Work Contract
Inkan

Through your account, you can have your utility, internet, and phone bills automatically withdrawn (note that withdrawal dates for these are usually different) and have your pay check automatically deposited (depends on your employer). Please note there are some Okinawa companies that will only allow automatic withdrawal from an Okinawan Bank account. Ask your supervisor for help.

If you are planning on traveling around mainland Japan, it is recommended that you get a post office bank account as you can use the bank machines anywhere in Japan. Some JETs have two accounts, one at a local bank (such as Okinawa Bank or Bank of the Ryukyus) and one at the post office for traveling and sending money home.

Okinawa Bank (沖縄銀行)
Bank of the Ryukyus (琉球銀行)


8. Set Up Internet

It has been easier to get connected to the Internet over the past few years. NTT FLETs or Yahoo! BB (Broadband) are the most popular internet companies, although there are many smaller Internet companies that offer similar services. You can also get packaged deals that include a home phone line and an Internet line or cable so you may want to look into that if it is of interest to you.

Most large electronic stores (Best Denki, Yamada Denki, Deo Deo inside any San-A) have booths for NTT and Yahoo! BB where you can apply to install internet into your apartment.

Phones bundled with an internet connection usually offer cheaper international rates.

Mobile Internet wifi is also popular for their flexible contract years.

Yet again, many young Japanese people use both a prepaid flip phone and an ipad/ipadmini/smartphone.  Prepaid phones and PHS phones offer the most competitive rates for phone calls.  Japanese cell phone companies offer data-only plans for smart devices, from which you can email, message via Line, etc.  If you really wanted to be cheap and lived in an area with enough constant access to free wifi, you could avoid even a data plan.  However, Japan is a little behind on its wifi access, so having a data plan with your smart devices and a cheap prepaid flip phone or PHS phone for calls is another smart way to go.

Good Luck with your preparations!

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