Category Archives: Life in Japan

Japan Local Living Guides

Japan Living Guides – Helping Foreigners

Japan Living Guides (seikatsu gaido)

Many people are unaware of these Japan living guides which are put together by local governments in order to help foreign residents with matters relating to daily life.

Use these links to access living guides for the below major cities;

The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) also has a good collection of general information about life in Japan in over ten languages.

You can usually get living guides in print at ward offices and international centers and the such, however the most convenient way is usually to just look at them online (I still recommend getting one in print though… you never know when you’ll need the information in a disaster when there is no power/internet connectivity etc.).

Still can’t find the information you need?

If you don’t find the detailed information you require for more complex situations, then the guide will at least be able to point you in the right direction, or provide you with a contact point. Make sure you check out the back pages for contact numbers and addresses.

Many cities also offer a free interpreter service for civic matters. Make sure you ask your local ward office if you’re ever stuck (although they should offer the service to you regardless). If you have to ask in Japanese, say tsūyaku onegaishimasu (通訳お願いします).

What’s covered?

The type of areas covered in these guides can vary, but they can be summarised as below;

  • Housing
  • Marriage, Divorce, Residence Issues
  • Hospitals, Insurance, Pensions
  • Jobs
  • Waste Separation and Collection
  • Children and Education
  • Elderly and Disabled Persons
  • Transportation
  • Earthquakes, Typhoons, and Floods
  • Contacting Ward Offices
  • How do you separate all the different types of rubbish?
  • Who do you contact for tax matters?
  • What is a local health center and where is your closest one?

Japan Living Guides

Japan Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment - graphic

Japan Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment

Japan Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment

You can apply for the lump-sum withdrawal payments if you have the Japanese public pension coverage periods for 6 months or longer. Once you receive your payments, however, your coverage periods for the basis of the payments entitlement will no longer be valid to apply for other Japanese benefits.

For more information on how to get your pension payments back if you leave Japan, please see the official Japan Pension Service website.

Local Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) Blooming

Some local sakura (cherry blossoms) are finally blooming!

Our previous post about flowers was about weeping plum blossoms, which begin to bloom first.

It’s so nice to see some cherry blossom blooms! Soon, they’ll be blooming everywhere 🙂 We are looking forward to taking plenty of pics and posting them as soon as we can. There are a couple of great spots for sakura in the area, so you won’t be disappointed.

This photo, taken today, is of a cherry blossom tree which is located on the grounds of a local church in Nagoya.

Local Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) Blooming
One of the first trees in the area to bloom
Weeping Plum Blossoms - March 2014

Weeping Plum Blossoms

Weeping Plum Blossoms

Weeping Plum Blossoms - Nagoya, Japan - March 2014
Weeping Plum Blossoms – Nagoya, Japan – March 2014

Weeping plum blossoms are the first variety of flower to hit the population with a bang just about as soon as Spring begins.

The weather is going to warm up nicely now.

The cherry blossoms (sakura) are next. Everyone is excited and feels like spring is truly on its way.

The local plum blossom festival finished a few days ago, and we are already hearing about some 30~50% sakura blooms, so it’s all happening!

We’ll post some sakura soon, stay tuned.

Have fun at 花見 guys and gals!

A friendly sign at the local school uniform shop wishing students luck for the new school year.

Clever Shop Sign Wishing Luck for the New School Year in Japan

Clever Shop Sign Wishing Luck for the New School Year in Japan
Clever Shop Sign Wishing Luck for the New School Year in Japan

Start of the School Year in Japan

I spotted this nice little sign at a local school uniform shop, wishing students luck for the new academic year which commences soon. It uses something they call 駄洒落 (dajare, or word-play).

It reads;


Ii fuku de ii fuku wo (the repetition of the word “fuku” is the word-play).

Which roughly translates into;

Good luck with good clothes (uniforms).

With students needing as much luck as they can get with all the competition, it’s a clever little sign. There are literally dozens of campaigns which take place around this season, especially since everyone works so hard at all the school entrance examinations to get into the best school they possibly can. There are usually a whole range of 合格 centred merchandise and things you can do which claim to help you pass exams. As long as you don’t get so hung up on passing that you forget to go to your exam, I guess it aint that bad.

Buying school bags (ランドセル) and uniforms etc, can be a big deal in Japan. In Australia the closest that it got to this for me, was probably getting some new gear at the “Back to School” specials at K-mart or something… flashback photo attached below. Far out… I miss my daggy pencil case.

Pencil case with letters in clear sleeves, old school.