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Top > Information about starting your new life in Japan

Information about starting your new life in Japan

Basic information to know before living in Japan

What is Japan like?

Composed of 4 main islands: from the north, Hokkaido, Honshu,Shikoku and Kyushu.
Mesothermal climate. In the northern part (Hokkaido and Tohoku area), climate is cool-temperate.
Constitutional monarchy and parliamentary government
Buddhism, Shinto, Christian
Monetary unit
Yen ($1 dollar is about ¥90~¥100 yen). There are six types of coins of ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥500 yen. There are four paper banknotes for ¥1,000, ¥2,000, ¥5,000 and ¥10,000 yen.

Life Information


  • Convenience stores open 24 hours
  • Supermarkets with imported products

In the daily living area there are supermarkets of various scales. Among these stores there are some that handle imported foods.
Most towns have 24 hours convenience stores where you can buy handy daily goods and processed foods. A consumption tax of 8% will be charged at each purchase.


  • At restaurants, Western cuisine is predominate.
  • Large variety of restaurants specialized in international cuisine of many countries.

In the restaurants, Western foods are more often found than the traditional Japanese cuisine. Chinese and Korean food are common as well.
Most of the stores are open every day and some operate for 24hours a day.
Tips are generally unnecessary.

Medical service

  • For sickness and injuries, call 119.
  • Reduction in the medical expenses with the national health insurance.

There are many medical institutions, from general hospitals to private clinics, enabling to choose the most appropriate according to the symptoms.
In case of sudden diseases or injuries caused by accidents, call 119 for an ambulance.
If you do not have the medical card, all the medical expenses will be paid by your own.

  • *At Leopalace 21, we offer the '24hours medical consultation service', in case of sickness and injuries.

Public safety

  • Relatively safe, but a certain caution is needed for atrocious crimes that may possibly occur.
  • Call 110 if involved in an incident.

Japan is relative safe compared to other countries and it is possible to walk at night alone.
However, since the number of violent crimes by young people are increasing lately, it is better to stay alert.
In case you are involved in an incident, call 110 and tell the details to the police.

  • *At Leopalace 21, we offer apartments with an auto-lock gate in the main entrance and adopt the high-security card keys for each room.

Information for commuting


  • Trains and buses run from morning usually till late evening.
  • Minimum fare for the taxies are relatively high.

The main public transports are buses and trains. (In big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, there are subways as well). They run from morning till late evening on a very precise schedule. In case you need to use several transportations, you can make efficient use of the rechargeable IC card. Taxies run on a meter system where the fare increases according to the travel distance and time spent, and there is no restriction for operation time or routes.
The minimum fare for the taxies are on average 700 yen, so it is costly compared to the train fares.

Required time for commuting

  • Commonly takes 1 hour in the urban area.
  • Better to consider the fee for commuting when searching for a room.

When you need to commute to a big city such as Tokyo and Osaka, the rents are higher when the location is closer to the center and it is usual to rent apartments located at approximately approximately 1 hour by train.
As the costs for transportation are more expensive for long distances, it will be wise to consider the monthly commuting expenses before deciding your accomodation.

Switch of the foreign driver's license

  • Switch to the Japanese license to be able to drive in Japan.

If you have a license at your country, you can drive in Japan once you switch to the Japanese license.
Bring the following documents to one of the 'driver and vehicle licensing center' located on every state:
your license from your country together with its Japanese translation, passport, alien registration card, 1 photo and the payment of the administration fee.

Necessary procedures after coming to Japan

Alien registration

  • Go through the procedures within 90 days after entering Japan.
  • Always keep the alien card with you.

It is mandatory to registrate yourself after entering Japan within the first 90 days at the department in charge, on the local municipal/ward office where you live. Bring your passport, 2 photos of the specified sizes and the application form. After approximately 2 weeks, the card is issued. Always keep this card with you.

Apply for the national health insurance

  • Mandatory if you stay in Japan for more than 1 year.

In order to apply, go to the national health insurance department at the municipal/ward office where you made your alien registration. Do not forget to bring your alien card and passport.

Open a bank account

  • Essential for the daily money transactions.
  • Necessary in order to make the monthly rent payments under the Chintai contract.

It is convenient to hold an account for the automatic payments for the rent, utilities and to receive your scholarship and part-time wage (the rent under the Chintai contract is monthly withdrawn from your specified bank account).
Bring your Japanese hanko (name seal which can be made at the specialized stores) and alien card to the counter of the bank to open an account.

At Leopalace 21, we offer a variety of special services after your move-in!
There is also assistance in English!

Feel free to contact us!

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