Hi guys, I came across this site a few months back and have had it in my favourite links since, I would like to share the link with you guys just incase you find any of the info helpfull.
THE JAPAN FAQ: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
(OR: WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE....)
The Complete Guide to Working, Visiting, and Living in Japan
Directory of Resources For Being in Japan
- "How's Shopping?"
Not really different. But if you wear fairly large sized clothes/shoes, you'd better bring all you'll need with you. Large-sized goods in Japan are scarce, or very expensive, or make you look like a dork. Mail-order shopping is also growing in popularity, but the customs hassles can make it more expensive than you might imagine. Make sure you know ALL the costs your purchase will entail. There is also no custom of tipping in Japan -- people do not tip waitresses, taxi-drivers, etc. Before you come to Japan, getting a credit card would also be a good idea. Getting one in Japan can be very frustrating, with more trouble of finding a guarantor, $100 annuals, etc.
Bringing a cell phone to Japan is completely worthless. Japan runs on its own unique system.
It is also possible to rent a cell phone for a short period. There are some companies that allow you to just pick up a cell phone at the airport, or pay at a convenience store. Another option is buying a handset and using pre-paid cards from such brands as Docomo, J-Phone, AU and Tu-ka. Costs typically run from 6000 yen for the phone and up, making calls are about 100 yen per minute, and you can buy more time at a convenient store. For example at stores like 7-11 or phone shops is the "Pretty" model by Tu-Ka, which is about 7000 yen, or the J-Phone "Preca" model at 6,000 yen. You'll need to give some sort of ID which will be copied, and phone cards from 3-5000 yen are valid for 90 days. You can receive unlimited calls at no charge. The phones have a color screen, and can also use the Short Message Service (SMS) and send e-mail. If you want more freedom though, no seller will give you an unrestricted phone without a credit card and/or a deposit. Many people are stunned when they see the prices in Japan.
The following are some typical prices :
*Rice: 400 yen/kg
*Bread (approx 1/3 loaf) 150-200 yen
*Coca-cola (12oz) 120 yen/can
*Gasoline 95 yen/liter
*Milk: 150-200 yen/ltr
*Domestic Beer (12oz) 225 yen/can
*Regular aspirin (100 tab) 1800 yen
*Contac (10cap) 1350 yen
*Movie 1800 yen
*Doritos (7oz) 400 yen
*Maybelline Lipstick 1500 yen
*Taxi - 2km 660 yen, then 90 yen/200m
*Pizza (10 inch; home delivery) 3000 yen
*Coffee 400g 400-800 yen
*DSL internet access 6000 yen/month
*Honeydew melon 400-10,000 yen each (no, that's not a typo)
Bringing in your own vitamins, herbs, cosmetics, aspirin, cold medicines, etc. would be a smart choice. But BEWARE-- in the US lately many illegal methamphetamine labs have bought up mass-amounts of psuedo-ephidrine type cold pills (Sudafed, et.al.) to convert to illegal speed. Japanese Customs is aware of this and on the look out for anyone coming in with a mountain of Sudafed or Vicks inhalers. Before you buy all those pills for those future colds, consider what you purchase.
There are a few other noteworthy aspects--you can buy virtually ANYTHING from vending machines, which are everywhere. (They turn themselves off at 11PM for alcohol; however these days there are many convenience stores that also sell liquor 24 hours a day). There are no "last calls for alcohol" by law in Japan either, and it's perfectly legal to be totally drunk on the street, in parks, and on the beach. And nobody ever cards you. Now that's freedom! Fireworks are also thankfully very legal, but on sale only in the summer months. If you want to light some up for New Year's, you'll need to buy them before August ends. It's still very rare for families to do so, but that may slowly be changing too.
When leaving Japan, you are permitted to take up to 1 million yen with you without declaration. But if you enter the US you are required to file a form with Customs if you are carrying more than $10,000 (regardless of currency, travelers checks, bonds, etc.). Failure to do so may result in seizure of your assets, DEA scrutiny, and maybe even an IRS audit. You are allowed to take with you up to $400 of goods duty free into the US.
Help, Useful Info, Phone Numbers, and Moving Back
Culture Shock, Isolation, and Getting Burned
Just 10 years ago there were few westerners outside the big cities. Now there are mobs of them everywhere. Even so, if you're new here, there may be times that you feel out of it, or have a problem that you just can't solve by yourself. But you don't have to feel helpless if you have a medical problem or your employer screws you over. There are now many associations that can help you. Here are a few valuable phone numbers to remember.
Important Phone Numbers
Japan Nat'l Tourist Organization--Tourist Info Ctr. 03-3502-1461
Japan Helpline (24 hrs, toll free in Japan) 0120-46-1997
Tokyo and Kanto Area
Tokyo English Life Line (Daily 9AM-4PM, 7PM-11PM) 03-5774-0992
IWC/IAC 03-3773-4836 (10AM-5PM weekdays)
HELP (English, Japanese, Thai, Tagalog) 03-3368-8855
Immigration -- Tokyo Immigration Info Ctr. (M-F (9:30-12,1-4:30PM) 03-3213-8523
AMDA Tokyo Medical Info and Referral Service 03-5285-8088 FAX 03-5285-8087
American Ctr. (Tokyo) 03-3436-0901
Tokyo Medical Info Service 03-5285-8181
Relief Ctr. for Human Rights 03-3581-2302
Tokyo Japan Hotline 03-3586-0110 (Mon-Fri; 10-6)
Tokyo English Lifeline 03-5721-4347
Kapatrian Medical & Legal Info/Counseling for Filipinos 03-3432-3055 (Mon-Fri 10-4)
Yokohama Information Corner 045-671-7209 (Mon-Fri; 10-4)
Hokkaido and Tohoku Areas
Hokkaido Women's Counseling Office 011-666-9955 (Japanese only; Mon-Fri 9-5:15)
Sapporo International Plaza 011-211-2105 (Mon-Fri; 9-5:30)
Sendai International Ctr. 022-265-2471 (9AM-8PM)
Sendai English Hotline 022-224-1919 (9AM-8PM)
Chubu and Kansai Areas
Nagoya Free Legal Consult 052-581-6111 (Sat 10-2:30)
Arusa No Kai (Nagoya) 052-935-9448
Kakekomi Aichi Domestic Abuse Hotline & Shelter 052-853-4479 (Mon 1-4PM)
Asian Friend (Osaka) 06-6634-2127
AMDA Kansai Medical Info and Referral Service 06-6636-2333 FAX 06-6636-2340
Osaka International House 06-6773-8989
Immigration Procedure Workshop (Toyonaka-shi, Osaka) 06-6843-4343 Fax : 06-6843-4375
Kyoto International Community House 075-752-3511
Kyoto Center for Multicultural Info & Assistance 075-604-5625
Nara International Foundation 0742-27-2436 (Tues-Sat; 10-6)
Kobe International Community Center 078-291-8441
Kobe International Plaza 078-795-4400 (closed Mon.)
Hyogo International Assn. & Advisory Service 078-382-2052 (Mon-Fri; 9-5)
Chugoku and Kyushu Areas
Hiroshima International Center 082-541-3888
Okayama Pref. International Exchange Foundation 086-256-2000 (closed Mon.)
LAAF (Fukuoka) 092-716-0577
Rainbow Plaza (Fukuoka)(Daily/Personal Problems) 092-733-2220
Kokusai Hiroba (Fukuoka)(Legal/Labor Issues) 092-725-9201
Asian Workers Hotline (Fukuoka) 092-716-0577
AIDS Workers Fukuoka 092-715-8395
Komustaka (Kumamoto) 096-352-3030
Nagasaki International Assn. 095-823-3931 (Mon-Fri; 9-5:30)
More websites for other cities and languages is at Secom and the Tokyo government. Other groups such as AA, AIDS support groups, PC and Mac User groups, motorcycle clubs, culture groups, religious groups, etc. are also around. Consult the classifieds of any big English magazine like Kansai Time Out, The Hiragana Times, Tokyo Journal, Tokyo Classified, etc.
Beware The Bait-And-Switch Travel Agent
If you live in Japan, there might be a time when you decide to go home for a visit. You might also notice that on some magazines there are some discount travel agencies with seemingly reasonable prices. One big caveat however--the price in the magazine might not be the one you pay. Many, if not most agencies have a bit of a scam running. They set you up for the price they post and then as you close the deal they say, "By the way, there is an airport usage tax of (2500-6500) yen you'll need to pay..." I have had that put on me every time. I have also flown through Los Angeles many times and I KNOW there is no such "usage tax". Sure, there are certain taxes and fees that exist, but they're usually included in the up-front price of the ticket. Even more off-the-wall is that for every agency you call, you get a different amount for the so-called "usage tax". Japanese, of course, simply say OK and pay more. Can you avoid the scam? Maybe not. But when you start calling for quotes, make sure you ask how much their ticket is with ALL surcharges included-- don't just simply set up a reservation at a place with the "cheapest price in town".