How to Live A Comfortable Expat life in Japan

Your Japan Properties
Your Japan Properties
Published on July 1, 2018

If you want to fit into Japanese society and live a comfortable expat life in Japan without being misunderstood, you might need to try to understand the rules of the community. Being a foreigner without any background knowledge about Japan might be stressful. Therefore, it is our pleasure to give you a piece of advice on things that you need to be aware of before moving to a new apartment in Japan.


Greeting the Neighbours.

After moving to a new place the first thing to do is to introduce yourself to the neighbors. It will be an excellent way to let people know that you have an idea of Japanese customs. Best way to introduce yourself it to bring “お土産” – “Omiyage” with you. “Omiyage” means “Gift” in the Japanese language and usually it is either sweets, rice crackers, tea or even kitchen napkins. Price can vary from 500 to 1000 JPY. Although your neighbors might understand the English language, they will probably be too shy to speak it. Therefore, if you can at least introduce yourself in Japanese or add よろしくおねがいします” – “Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu” to your speech, this is your finest hour. It will be an excellent first step in building a good relationship with your neighbors.


Rubbish Disposal.

Japanese society has strict rules regarding rubbish sorting and removal. Every city has its schedule of removing a specific type of rubbish and rubbish plastic bags that you are expected to purchase. In addition to this, if you are moving to a condo, you need to be aware that collecting station for cans and bottles might be at some distance from your house. If you want to live a comfortable expat life in Japan and do not want to disturb your neighbors these are few rubbish disposal rules:


  1. Separating the trash.

Please do it, if you want to live a pleasant expat life in Japan. When you move to a new apartment, you will get the rubbish disposal schedule and explanation of what is considered to be a combustible, non-combustible or another type of rubbish in this particular area.  For example, in some cities, you can throw a plastic bag as flammable trash, whereas in others it is strictly prohibited. And if you think that you can get away with this, you might underestimate the Japanese society. The best case scenario is scavengers will merely put a sticker on this trash and refuse to dispose of it. True story!

2. Use appropriate garbage bag.

Each city has its type of garbage bag, which color depends on the kind of rubbish. You can purchase them in any convenience or department store in your area of residence. However, do not panic if you could not find any in your area. In some areas, for example, you have to sort rubbish, but you can use any plastic bag because they do not have specific ones.   3. Do not throw your trash in advance. If “combustible rubbish” is scheduled to be collected on Monday, do not take it out on Friday. It will smell bad and attract either stray cats or what is more likely – crows, who will try to pull out the trash. In addition to this, in some places, you can see that rubbish has a blue net on it. Japanese people do this to prevent crows from scattering the garbage.


4. Recycle of oversized items.

“Oversized item” category can include furniture or electrical appliance. For this particular category, you need to purchase unique labels that are called 粗大ゴミ券” – “Sodai Gomi Ken,” which means “large garbage ticket.” Yes, you understood right, in Japan if you want to get rid of an old couch you need to pay for it! The first thing to do is to call a particular number and request an appointment for trash pickup. In some areas, you can do that through the Internet. This link might be helpful to find the right phone number for your area of residence. Unfortunately, it is only in the Japanese language so please find someone to assist you if you can not speak it. Next step it buying the ticket. You can buy it in a convenience store; price will depend on the size of an item. And please make sure that you bought it in your area of residence. For example, in my area of residence there are two types of them in total:

  • A  – 300 JPY
  • B  – 500 JPY

You can mix them to get the right amount of disposal fee. After completing these steps take out the item with the sticker on it and put it in a visible place. On the designated date, oversized garbage service staff will come to collect it.


Vehicle Parking.

Usually, any apartment complex has the defined number of available parking spaces. If you are moving to a residential complex, there will be no problem with parking a bicycle because most all of them will undoubtedly have it. However, it might get quite challenging if you own a motor vehicle. In case if you intend to buy a motor vehicle, you should first check parking space availability. The reason is that in Japan to purchase a car you need to obtain a 車校証明証” –  “Shako Shoumeisho,” which means garage certificate. It will prove that you have a right to use the parking space. You will be charged a monthly fee for motor vehicle parking lot that can be 30,000 JPY or more. It does not cost anything to keep your bicycle in the designated parking lot. In case if you own a bike be sure that you get a sticker from the mansion owner or your real estate agent. Most of the residential complexes issue labels for their residents` bicycles to prohibit illegal parking. Security staff usually checks the parking lot every month, so please be sure that you have labeled your bike.

There are some additional topics that you might want to pay attention if you’re going to enjoy an expat life in Japan.  We would like to share it with you in the second part of this article, which we will publish very soon. If you have any questions related to this topic, please feel free to let us know. We hope this information will be helpful for people who wish to move and live a good expat life in Japan.

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