Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Moving: Paying Rent on a Japanese Apartment

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post we started looking at the contract and other documents you sign before you move in. Today's post covers two more important notices I got from my agency at this stage.

Week 3, Tuesday:
So I've looked at and inkan stamped the two biggies: ① The Contract, and ② The 重要事項説明書. What remains to be clarified is through what means I'll be paying for this apartment month-to-month and the bill from the agency that must be settled before I can move in.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Moving: The Japanese Apartment Contract

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post I thought to check for Internet reviews of my new apartment... after I'd already made the down payment. Fortunately I didn't find any unpleasant surprises online.

Week 3, Tuesday:

The real estate agent calls me in: My rental contract has arrived. I stop by in the evening to sign and stamp my inkan on several documents.

A fair number of complicated documents are involved in this step. We'll work through them one or two at a time:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Geting Married in Japan: An introduction

I am sure that you don't need a blog post to tell you that getting married complicated business. While I am no wedding planner, I am currently going through the knot tieing process here in Japan and I figured that I would share my sage advice with all you potential bride and grooms to be.

Whether you are marrying a local or just want to have a Japanese wedding, AccessJ is here to help!

Ningen Dokku: A Full Physical Check-Up

Japan, being the maverick that it is, has very different way of going about regular physicals. Believe it or not, physicals are not covered by health insurance on account of the fact that work places are legally obligated to provide medical screenings (kenko shindan 健康診断) for their employees.

While medical screens are comprehensive, they are usually conducted in a conveyor-belt fashion and are not particularly invasive. If you are in your mid thirties or forties, it is recommended that you instead get a "full physical examination," known as 人間ドック (ningen doku).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moving: Japanese Apartment Reviews

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post I got quotes from some moving companies. I didn't haggle as much as I should have, but I set a date to have my big furniture and appliances moved to the new place.

Week 3, Monday:
Belatedly, I think to check online reviews for the new building I'm moving into. Consumer reviews posted on the Internet have helped me make a lot of purchase decisions in the past. One site for reviews on Japanese apartments is It is certainly not free of fake reviews posted by property owners and agencies, but the occasional legitimate review can provide insight about nighttime noise and area traffic during commute hours.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moving: How Much to Carry My Stuff?

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post I got around a potentially discriminatory second guarantor requirement and now I'm thinking about logistics of the actual move. (OK, it wasn't actually discriminatory.)

Week 3, Sunday (Continued):
In the meantime, I have sent requests to two 引越し会社 (hikkoshi gaisha, moving companies), asking them to provide estimates on cost of moving all my big furniture and appliances to the new place. A representative from one company arranges to meet me that evening.

I point out the items that I'm asking to have moved and the timeframe I'm considering. He calculates for a moment and spits out 31,000 yen. I didn't know what to expect, but it still seemed steep. After all, I'm saying that I'll take care of all the little stuff. I only want them to move big items that I can't handle myself and which can't fit in my car.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The JLPT: Grammar flash cards

Now that we have covered high level JLPT reading (see our posts on practicing with newspapers and opinion pieces) and listening practice (via radio and television), we can now move on to everyone's favorite topic: grammar.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Don't Change to the Zairyu Card Yet?

Back in May, we covered the new Zairyu Card (在留カード) being issued to foreigners in Japan. This card replaces the old Alien Registration Card (外国人登録証明書).

The change is optional for the validity of your card, your period of stay (在留期間), or until July 8, 2015, whichever comes first. Up until that time limit, you can continue using your old Alien Registration Card as an equivalent to the Zairyu Card.

But, there are a few complications that might incline you to hang on to the old ARC as long as possible:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Moving: Inevitable Trouble

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post I signed a formal application, made the down payment, and now I'm waiting for the application to be reviewed by the property owner.

Week 3, Sunday:
I hit my first road bump. The building owner calls me directly. My application has been flagged because I am not Japanese, and they want some extra assurances. Specifically he asks about my guarantor, who lives in another prefecture. I'm told that he lives too far away. Considering my circumstances, a guarantor living in the same prefecture as me would be preferable. Isn't there someone nearby whom I can ask?

I explain that I have provided the only contact whom I feel comfortable asking to be financially responsible for me. I don't know anyone else well enough to ask such a favor of them, and particularly not within my current prefecture. From the owner's uncomfortable silence, it is clear that this answer is unsatisfactory.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The JLPT: Opinion Pieces and the Long Reading Section

With the winter JLPT fast approaching, I though it would be a good opprotunity to post about one of my favorite reading exercises: the opinion piece. Let's take a look at how to boost your eye-wateringly long passage reading skills!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Moving: Signing and Making the Down Payment

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post I found some apartments I liked, and now I'm ready to sign on one of them.

Week 2, Friday:
I decide on one apartment and email "Mr. T" (my agent) to make sure it is still available. He responds that it is and again encourages me to hurry up and sign on it before anyone else does!! I tell him I'll be in sometime soon.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The JLPT: Newspapers and Speed Reading

When it comes to the reading section of the JLPT, time is of the essence. However, there are plenty of ways to hone your speed reading before test day. Let's take a look at one of my favorite methods.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Moving: The Real Estate Agency

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post, I checked out some places online and now I'm ready to look at properties in person.

Week 1, Tuesday:
Within a day, replies come for two of the three apartments from 仲介会社, chuukai gaisha, the real estate agencies that interface between property owners and renters (or buyers) in Japan. I stop by one of the agencies when I happen to be out shopping nearby that same evening.

The agency's employees (after confirming I can communicate with them and that I haven't just inadvertently wandered into the wrong place) ask about my requirements (quiet, under ten years old or newly renovated, on-site parking, reasonable commute), then prepare printouts detailing several different apartments. The agent who emailed me, "Mr. T," offers to drive me around to see some properties that evening. I grab my camera and visit three apartments I liked on paper, but am less impressed when I see them in person.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Shaken: What Kind of Shop?

You've decided that user shaken just isn't for you. Because of time constraints, necessary maintenance, or whatever else, asking a business to take care of your shaken just seems to make more sense.

There are a lot of places that can provide this service. A lot of them advertise right outside their shop with huge banners reading 車検! But which one is best? Which is the cheapest? Is there any difference at all?