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Guide to Easy Living 02: The Basics

Day to Day life in Nagoya:

Living in a new country presents many unforeseen challenges; it’s like being a child all over again, and having to re-learn the basics of daily living. From properly disposing of garbage to collecting your undelivered items at the post office, this guide aims to provide the answers.

Trash Disposal:

Most foreigners are taken aback by Japan’s strict garbage policy. But, when you stop to think about it, all the rules make sense: This is, after all, an island, so having an organised system of garbage removal is downright essential.

 

What you need to know

Trash policies vary by region and neighbourhood, making these instructions specific to Nakamura Koen. Two trash collection days each week occur on Tuesday and Friday; recyclables are picked up every Monday. Make sure your garbage is outside in the designated area by 8 a.m. on collection days.

 

There are two main categories for sorting your garbage: Burnable, and non-burnable items. Accordingly, you will need separate trash bags for each, which you can purchase at grocery or convenience stores.

 

-Bags with red text: This is where the bulk of your garbage will go. Items such as food scraps, plant material, paper products and flimsy plastic packaging and rubber are all considered burnable.

-Bags with blue text: Sturdy plastic containers (like water bottles), aluminum cans, lids and paper boxes are collected once a week.

 

Additionally, glass items, batteries, and 30 cm or smaller garbage, like an old umbrella, for instance, are collected once a month. Use a blue bag for these items as well, as it’s for recycling.

 

For garbage pick-up of larger items (30-plus cm), you must apply 7-days before pickup. T: (0120-758-530). For assistance, don’t hesitate to ask JCM staff.

 

Note: Please make sure all of your cans and bottles are empty before recycling them. This means you’ll need to dispose of their contents in the red, burnable bags, or by pouring liquids down the kitchen sink drain.

Driving a Car in Japan:

Most foreigners coming to live in Japan won’t be bringing their cars with them; however, if you’re ever interested in renting a car for a big shopping trip or vacation, you’ll need to have an International Driver’s License.

 

What you need to know

In order to drive a car in Japan, you’ll need a valid driver’s license from the country in which you are citizen, plus, an International Driver’s License issued in Japan. For those who will be staying in the country for longer than 3 months, and have a valid license in their country, they will be exempt from portions of the driving test (written and applied). For more information, call T: 052-800-1352, or contact JCM staff for assistance.

Public Transportation:

The easiest and most efficient way to get around in Japan is by using the public transportation system. Subway trains come every few minutes and the rides are always smooth and on time.

 

We recommend purchasing a Manaca pass, so that you don’t have to buy individual tickets every time you ride, allowing you to cruise through the electronic gates with the flash of your card. Additionally, if you purchase a Manaca Commuter Pass, you’ll pay a one-time, monthly fee and ride unlimited stops between destinations. So, let’s say you work near Sakae: You would buy a pass for around 9000 yen, and ride unlimited stops between Nakamura Koen and Sakae for the entire month. If you aren’t working, choose the subway stop you use the most and get the Commuter Pass anyway to save on travel costs.

 

You can also add money to your Manaca pass using the clearly labeled machines at subway terminals, so that you can use the convenience of your card when traveling outside of its designated boundaries. This additional money on the card is also good to use at most convenience stores, in case you’re out of cash and need a drink or something. Just look for the Manaca logo at cash registers to know if you’re covered.

 

When buying a Manaca card for the first time, you’ll need to find a machine in the subway and enter some basic information. There’s an English guide available. You must pay a 500 yen deposit to get it up and running.

 

If you have any questions regarding the Manaca pass, please contact the Nagoya International Center.

Banking:

If you’re staying in Japan for more than a couple of months, it’s in your best interest to open a Japanese bank account. Foreign transaction fees are high, and even if you have a credit card that doesn’t tack on a service charge, you’ll find that many businesses won’t accept it as a form of payment. So, it’s true what they say: Cash is King. To assure that you’re never stranded in a checkout line with no way to pay, make sure to carry plenty of Yen at all times.

 

Go to a smaller, local post for quicker setup. Larger post offices are more likely to have a bi lingual staff member

 

What you need to know

Bring your VISA, residence card and government issued “My Number”—similar to a Social Security Number in the United States—to a major Japan Post office. We recommend using Japan Post Bank due to its English speaking staff and many ATM locations, easily accessed in most subway stations around town.

 

At a main branch post office, you can obtain a free checking account with JP Bank. An English speaking agent will guide you through roughly 3-4 forms that require information in both Kangi and Katakana. Staff will either help you write in the data yourself, or transcribe it for you.

 

Please note

-Be patient. The process is a lot of extra work for bank employees, who stop what they’re doing to assist your special needs. As such, it may take several hours to complete the process. Bring a book or magazine and be prepared to wait.

-Once you have completed all the forms, you will be issued a bank book, or checking account registry. If you’re working in Japan during your stay, your employer will need to make a copy of this for direct deposit pay.

-It takes 5-7 days for your bank/ATM card to arrive in the mail. You must be home to receive this certified mail in person; if you’re away from home at the time of delivery, a receipt will be left behind in your mailbox, which you will then need to take to your local post office—located in your neighborhood—and pick it up there.

-Your card is ready for use immediately. During sign up at the Post Office, you’ll set up your PIN number, so that when you get your card it’s already activated.

-Visit any JP Bank ATM to withdraw funds or check balances.

ATM:

In Japan, the ATM will fast become your lifesaver. It’s all too common to assume that a grocery store or restaurant will accept credit cards or your Japanese banking card, and then end up stranded and having to dash to find your nearest ATM. It’s an embarrassing mistake you’re bound to make at least once during your stay, but to reduce the odds, always have some backup Yen in your wallet.

 

What you need to know

If you’re still reliant on your bank or credit cards issued overseas, most Seven Eleven convenience stores have international ATM machines available; however, be prepared for a fee issued by your card provider, as well as from a Japan financial institution. The average cost to withdraw funds using this method runs anywhere from 1,500-2,000 Yen.

 

Using a JP Bank ATM, you can also withdraw funds from overseas, but the transaction fees tend to be even higher than Seven Eleven’s service charge at around 2,500 Yen.

 

The cost varies, even if you’re using the same ATM machines. There’s no making sense of this, and we advise avoiding this method altogether if possible.

 

If you must use withdraw funds using this method, take out the maximum amount that makes sense, to best capitalize on the high cost of service fees.

 

About JP Bank ATM Machines

With your JP Bank Card, there are no transaction fees to check balances or withdraw funds. Select “English Guide” at the lower right of the touch-screen. Also, you can print out receipts of balances, which comes in handy because online banking in a foreign country is not without its challenges.

Written By:

Amy T. Granite
Ex-Nagoya explorer and now San Diego-based journalist and foodie. Check out more of Amy’s work on her blog here: http://saysgranite.com/

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