Day to Day Living in Japan
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Day-to-day Living in Japan
Housing is generally expensive and cramped in Japan. Most people choose to rent rather than own since home ownership in Japan is one of the most costly in the world. Prices for renting vary depending on how close you are to a city and transport, the age and type of the building, and its facilities. Property offered for rent is usually good quality since landlords tend to rebuild and repair frequently. Contracts are usually for two years and are normally extendable.
Deciding on an area to live in Japan requires a compromise between convenience, size and cost. An apaato is generally made of wood and a manshon of concrete. The latter is preferable due to better heat and sound insulation. Weekly and monthly Japanese rental magazines offer a good idea of what is available in each area.
When you have decided on an area, you will need to visit some of the real estate agents (fudosan) in the area to see what is available. It is advisable to take a Japanese speaking friend along with you to enable smooth and accurate communication.
The majority of accommodation contracts require the signature of a Japanese guarantor. There are professional guarantor companies who will act as your guarantor for a small fee but a lot of paperwork, or, if you are working for a Japanese company, the company will usually act as your guarantor.
Be prepared to pay a lot of money up front. The move-in costs generally amount to 3-7 months' rent.
Cost of living
Living costs in Japan and especially in Tokyo are famous to be among the world's highest. Central Tokyo is a very expensive place to live; even small apartments are priced very high. However, if you live outside of central Tokyo, or another region or city, housing prices are considerably lower, and if you adjust to a Japanese lifestyle, living in Japan can be surprisingly inexpensive.
Utilities such as water, gas and electricity are expensive, as are phone rates. For international calls the best options are internet phones and call-back services. Broadband and Wi-Fi hotspots are common anywhere in major cities so it is cheaper to find these than establish your own connection.
Cars - Running a car in Japan is expensive due to mandatory bi-annual inspections, insurance, car tax and the price for a parking space. The best option is to use the public transport. However, if you do want to drive a car in Japan, make sure you have an international driver's licence which is valid for one year and can only be used while you have a valid licence in your own country. After living a year in Japan and are intending to stay, you are expected to obtain a Japanese driving licence.
Public Transport - Japan has excellent public transport facilities and all their transport systems are highly developed. Commuters can purchase commuter passes for unlimited travel between their home and work place for a time period and a large variety of discount offers are available for train travel. Many companies pay their employees all or part of their commuting expenses.
Things to do and see
In every town there is a wide array of foreign and traditional restaurants, bars and coffee shops to suit everyone and an excellent entertainment scene can be found in Tokyo. Japan has an outstanding nightlife scene and with no mandatory closing times, you can party all night long.
Culture is represented everywhere throughout Japan in museums, galleries, theatres and cinemas and a magnificent display of colour can be seen in the magnificent gardens and fashions.
There are small parks spread around the metropolis and the sea and mountains are always within easy reach. There are some really beautiful mountains to climb; however, you will need to hire a car to get you there as there is no public transport that goes into the heart of the mountains.
Japan has a big sporting scene with a wide choice of sports on offer; from soccer and golf to the more traditional sports of sumo and martial arts.
- January 1st:New Year's Day
- Second Monday of January: Coming-of-Age Day
- February 11th:National Foundation Day
- Around March 21st:Vernal Equinox
- April 29th:Showa Day
- May 3rd:Constitution Memorial Day
- May 4th:Greenery Day
- May 5th:Children's Day
- Third Monday of July:Marine Day
- Third Monday of September:Respect-for-the-Aged Day
- Around September 23rd:Autumnal Equinox
- Second Monday of October:Health and Sports Day
- November 3rd:Culture Day
- November 23rd:Labour Thanksgiving Day
- December 23rd:The Emperor's Birthday
Organisations that can assist with Day to Day Living
British Corner Shop is the online British supermarket with worldwide delivery. Ideal for British Expats, Forces and Brits living and working abroad who can't get hold of their favourite British food locally.