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）.
The type of areas covered in these guides can vary, but they can be summarised as below;
- Marriage, Divorce, Residence Issues
- Hospitals, Insurance, Pensions
- Waste Separation and Collection
- Children and Education
- Elderly and Disabled Persons
- 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?