Today at training I got asked a lot of questions, because I’ve lived in Japan for over six years (gonna be seven in July). The questions ranged from things that one could Google, but some weren’t so much. I wrote some down just for this particular post, mostly because I want to just be able to pull this post up when people ask in the future.
What do I do about (home country) taxes in Japan?
For the first year, you’ll have to make sure you file for your home country’s taxes stuff. In America, I had to get a form from a rather surly I.R.S. employee lady that would be used as proof that I’m living abroad so don’t tax me twice, please and thanks.
Be sure to check with your embassy to see what exact rules and regulations there are, because each country is gonna be different. I discovered today that South Africa is awful and demands that people pay taxes in South Africa as well as Japanese taxes no matter what, which I think is robbery but whatever. For us Americans, so long as you don’t have any estate or investments back in the U.S.A., you file your income made in Japan and don’t pay taxes back in America. Once again though, do research and check on
Check your local Japan city hall or ward office if you’ve got Japanese tax questions in particular. Income taxes are deducted automatically from most salaries, you generally have to pay a city tax if you live in a city for over a year, and etc. Talk to people there for more information.
Can I leave my food or drink trash here at this *training center?
Not recommended, as it’s considered bad manners to leave trash in a place that you’re only using temporarily that doesn’t belong to you. Japanese people aren’t going to tell you not to do it, they’ll just not be happy about it and maybe won’t invite you back into the space next time. Also, odds are there will be complaints filed to supervisors about it, too. Not the best way to start off your job at the mere training stages by being known as the “rude” and “gross” employee. Kept a plastic bag on you and throw stuff away later.
*Note: Ignore if your training center is a huge public place with multiple trash cans, I’m talking about a small space with only one or two small bins.
Are Japanese students better than (British/American/ Western) students?
Japanese students aren’t really “better” in the sense of learning or studying than Westerners. They just learn differently. Japanese school systems are still very much lecture based, so it’s difficult to get them out of that format and into an active classroom.
A Japanese student will perhaps on average be more passive and disciplined, but not always. Also, for English language acquisition, both of those traits can be disadvantageous. If a student is passive, then they can’t actively communicate well. If they’re disciplined or really focused, then they are more likely to focus on the wrong aspects on language (i.e. grammar rules over actually trying to speak).
In other words, they have their own sets of challenges.
Where can I buy a (bicycle/electric bike/ kitchen appliances/etc)?
Recycle shops would be the best place to buy necessary items like a bike or a microwave on a budget. In America we would call them “second hand stores” or “thrift shops,” but I want to emphasize that in Japan second hand items are so gently used they generally look brand new. Everything gets checked to make sure it works, so the odds of you going home with something broken is exceedingly rare. Hard Off and House Off are the two main chain stores with electronic and household things available, Book Off is more for used books and action figures store, and you can get clothes at Book Off Bazaar.
Is it really hard to find a new apartment?
No, not really for urban areas. Back in the day foreigner friendly apartments were rare, but nowadays through websites and real estate agents you can find an apartment no problem. The real issue is can you afford the move in fees? Usually there’s a one month or two month deposit plus key money, and from there the fees could include cleaning fees, paper work fees, lock exchange fees, fire insurance, life support fees, and the list goes on. You generally need at least 200,000 yen in order to move into a new place in a city.
Now, in the countryside the rules are different. Foreign friendly apartments are harder to find, but the move in costs are usually much cheaper and you can get way more space for less rent money. In many cases, your apartment may even get paid for by a company or school just to have you close by.
But for Tokyo, yeah, save up before you decide you wanna move.
Where should I go to withdraw money? What’s the best bank to use?
Any Japan Post ATM will do foreign cards and most of the time a 7-11 ATM will work too.
If you’re using a domestic Japanese bank card, it’s either a convenience store or your chosen bank’s ATM from 9-5 on working day. I recommend you just simplify your life and get a Shinsei Bank account which is accepted by most convenience stores, Japan Post, and even outside the country. Also, you don’t get charged withdrawing fees from convenience stores with Shinsei and you can withdraw money 24/7.
How to a sort my trash at home? What are trash days?
Every city and even city district is different. Go to your city hall or ward office to get information on that.
And there’s that. I’m sure there are more but I’m exhausted. Tomorrow if I get more questions I’ll answer them here again. Might as well, I’m sure it’s helpful to other people out there too.