What You Need To Know As A Student Arriving In Japan
Being an international student and transitioning in a new routine in a different country can be difficult. What’s important is that students should have some essential information, which can guide them and make their transition easy. Like many other countries, Japan offers various benefits for international students. Studying in the world’s third largest economy, students get to experience both quality of life and quality of education.
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We have prepared for you a small guide that can help you, especially if you’re an international student. It includes some of the MUST DOs that you may need as a student in Japan. Use it as a checklist if you may!
1. Get Your Airport Checklist Sorted
If you’re an international student arriving in Japan on a student visa, you will be given a residence ID during immigration at the airport. This ID acts as a legal identification for international students and must be carried at all times. If you get stopped anywhere in Japan by the local authorities, all you need to do is show this ID. You will also need this ID to open up a bank account or buy a sim card in Japan.
If you’re considering working part-time, take note that students are required to hand over the part-time working form during immigration. This form allows international students to work for up to 28 hours a week on a student visa. Make sure the information on the form is accurate and matches your details on the ID, otherwise you may not be able to work.
Once you have cleared immigration and have the ID, you can then purchase a local sim card at the airport from the kiosks. Buying a sim card and subscribing to an internet package can help you contact the university representative at the airport. In case you are unable to buy a local sim, you can also enable data roaming on your home country’s sim card.
2. Open A Local Bank Account
After getting the residence ID, students can open a bank account in a Japanese bank. Your sponsor can then send you money in that account from the home country through Western Union or other services. Students can also make payments in Japan through using their foriegn credit or debit cards (VISA and Mastercard). However, we advise you to carry sufficient cash at all times as credit / debit cards may not be accepted at some places.
3. Know Your Transportation Options
Public transport in Japan is easily accessible in Japan. As a student in Japan, you can use the public transport or buy a bicycle - whichever is more convenient for you!
For public transport such as subway, bus and monorail fares, students can purchase a rechargeable IC card to avoid buying a ticket every time. With this prepaid IC card, students can avoid waiting in queues to buy tickets to save time. These cards can also be used at vending machines, parking lots and other stores. Students will need to deposit 500-Yen for the card, which is refundable upon return.
If you’re a nature-loving person and prefer fresh air over air conditioners, you can get a new or a second hand bicycle in Japan. However, there are some legal requirements that you need to take care of. When buying a new bicycle, you will be required to fill out some forms and pay an additional 500 Yen at the shop to register the bicycle. After registration, the salesperson will put a yellow registration sticker on your new bicycle, deeming it as good to use.
4. Visit The Local Town Hall
As an international student, the local town hall will be a place that you’ll have to visit at least once or twice. In Japan, it is compulsory for international students to have National Health Insurance. Once you arrive and settle in Japan, you will be required to enroll at the local town hall in order to obtain the National Health Insurance (NHI) card. The card costs around approx. 1800 Yen per month depending upon the previous year’s income. This card can be used at any medical appointments and treatments, enabling the student to pay only 30% of their medical bills. (So can you show up at a hospital for no reason? Not really! Voluntary checkups and some other exceptions are not included.)
You may be required to visit again if you plan on changing your address after arriving in Japan. Students must notify their address change (if any) to the local town hall (kuyakusho) within 14 days of arrival in Japan. You will be required to carry your passport, residence card, and your new long-term address. This new address will be updated into the database and will be printed on the back of the residence card.
5. Know and Follow the Law
Every country has its own laws. As residents or international students, it is important to know and follow them. All students studying in Japan are required to obey the laws of Japan while residing in the country. Here are a few that you need to know as a student.
- Students under the age of 20 years are not legally allowed to smoke or drink in Japan.
- Drug possession/use is punishable by months in jail before the trial, and then years after that in prison, or deportation to your home country. So say no to drugs!
- Smoking is prohibited in the school and is only allowed in designated areas marked with smoking area signs.
- Students are not allowed to work for more than 28 hours in a week. Working part time at clubs, bars and massage places is strictly prohibited.
So, stay out of trouble and make the most of your study abroad years. And most importantly, stay safe!
6. Practice Your Japanese Speaking Skills
The best way to actually fit in and enjoy living in a new country is to make many new local friends. And how can you do that in Japan? You can join clubs in the University you attend, or make new friends through working part-time. Through them, you can know more about Japan and at the same time practice your Japanese speaking skills.