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Japan With Kids - Forums: Moving to and Leaving Japan: Moving To Japan

Welcome to Moving to and Leaving Japan. You may enter any of the discussions above by clicking on the appropriate link. Or, to start a new discussion of your own, click on the "Create New Conversation" button. All questions regarding schools and education should be posted in the appropriate discussion under Japan With Kids - Forums: Education in Japan please.
By nancy wechsler on Thursday, October 14, 1999 - 1:53 am:

We are an American family and will be moving to Tokyo in about 2 months. We have a 1 year old daughter. Are there any places that you would suggest that we look for housing. What should our expectations be for housing in Japan. I am also interested in the availability of schools or play programs for my daughter and myself. Thanks for you recommendations!

By Robert Swinburne on Thursday, December 23, 1999 - 5:16 am:

I am moving to Jpan in March 2000 and I am hoping that someone here can answer a question for me. Can you use the same internet web sites in Japan, including mail order? In other words, can I order from the L.L.Bean online catalog when in Japan?

By beth on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 11:04 am:

My husband is interested in moving to Japan. We are an american family with two boys (2and4yo). We live in the suburbs on 3 acres of land. While excited about the experience for me and my family, I'm afraid of what life will be like. Will I be happy? I'm afraid of the dense population, and language and cultural barriers. Could someone tell me how they love living in Tokyo? It would be a great help

By AlexTan on Thursday, January 6, 2000 - 5:48 am:

I will be moving to Japan with my family two months later.
Could someone advise me wheather my family can purchase medical insurance from a Japanese firm.
Can the doctor's in Japan speak English.

By Cornelia on Thursday, January 6, 2000 - 6:23 am:

Dear Alex,
You didn't leave an email address, so I hope you check back here for an answer to your question:

If you are paid in yen on the local economy you will have to join Japanese National Health Insurance (NHI). You will most likely also be required to pay in to the Pension system (like Social Security in the USA). These will most likely be automatic deductions from your pay check. You will also have to do a Japanese national tax return. IF you are from the USA, you will also have to do a US tax return, so that's two per year. Often a Japanese company prepares its employees' tax returns, but any employee can file his own version if he believes some important information was omitted by the company. Company accountants can only submit what they know, and some are better than others at collecting all relevant information (deductions, etc.).

NHI is not as bad as a lot of foreigners like to make it sound. You CAN choose your doctor, and every facility pretty much accepts NHI. The only places that don't are the ones servicing the ex-pats, and those are only a handful.

You have to go doctor shopping just like you would anywhere else. Best of course not to wait until you have an emergency. Some doctors speak English, some only read and write it, and some are too shy to use the English knowledge that they have. Some very good doctors don't speak English well or at all. A company will often help out and send someone to translate along IF the situation is very serious. This may not apply to ear infections, head colds and so on.

Children quite young and still requiring vaccines and immunizations: upon arrival and registration at your local ward office, pick up Boshi Techos for children falling into this category (under 6 years old). See FYI page on this site for "Boshi Techo"

I have estimated that at best there are about 40,000 English speaking foreigners living in Tokyo, as a percentage of the total population this is tiny. In spite of the insignificant number the Japanese have done an awful lot to make it easier on us "illiterates". Many, many city publications are available in translation (of varying qualities), there is a 5 days a week English help line provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Many signs in train stations contain romanized spellings of station names. Even some bus stop signs (the new ones) include romanization. Depending on how long you plan to stay, some basic Japanese will be acquired, just in your daily dealings, and you'll really appreciate it, when that starts happening. The English level here is not even close to what you might find in Continental Europe, but people are much, much friendlier.

Good luck

By Cornelia on Thursday, January 6, 2000 - 6:40 am:

Hi Robert, web addresses are the same no matter where in the world they are accessed from. The LL Bean site will still be available to you.

Your local internet access varies wherever you are at. If you are currently accessing via telephone modem, you are calling a local phone number. When in Japan you'll have to call a different number, local to your area of Japan. If your current internet service provider does not have access points in Japan, you will have to find and pay for local internet service. There are MANY different options becoming available including hard cable. There is a discussion on internet access options at the following URL on this site:

If you are in the military living on a military base, you may be able to get some internet access service through the base that I don't know about.

By Janet Tang on Saturday, January 15, 2000 - 1:54 am:

I have Japanese friends in Tokyo who are expecting their first child this summer. I would like to know what American style baby items are useable or desirable. I want to send an American layette and diaper bag, but hate to send items that might go unused. Please help!
Thank you!

By Anna on Saturday, January 15, 2000 - 11:01 am:

Dear Janet, Many Japanese families do not use cribs. Maybe you can find out somehow? But diaper bags are ALWAYS useful. Later, sippy cups are wonderful! The ones they sell here are really expensive. I was inundated with stuffed animals, and I wish I could have told people that I had enough. Even now I still get stuffed animals (my daughter is 3) and she really has not ever played with them that much! There was one US made toy that I haven't seen here, a very complex set of three large plastic keys. Each key had some additional little gadget on it, a little sliding door revealing a color or picture, and so on.

Best wishes.

By Aileen Kawagoe on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 9:49 am:

There are tons of websites to help you all orientate yourselves to living in Japan. I will just say that living in any foreign country will be stressful initially, and learning all you can with an open mind about your host country and people really helps...I have been here for a year and a half and really love it ...warts and all. See below sites for help:

On living in Japan in general:

JHELP - Japan Helpline (24 hrs, toll free in Japan) 0120-46-1997 ***
HELP (English, Japanese, Thai, Tagalog) Tokyo: 03-3368-8855

The Living Guide Japan has emergency numbers and earthquake info that
you might want to have close in hand and also

Touted as the complete guide to working and living in Japan. No, it's not complete, but it is expansive.

The largest collection of links on Japan here at

Japan Health Handbook by Meredith Maruyama
Though predominantly to do with health issues, also has a short chapter on issues related to school-age children such as bullying and bilingualism.

The book Japan for Kids: The Ultimate Guide for Parents and Their Children by Diane Wiltshire Kanagawa/Jeanne Huey Erickson
A good resource on education, outings, leisure activities for families and has a chapter delegated to the subject on bilingualism.

The Japan Times online news, if you don't subscribe to a paper at

Or The Daily Yomiuri website for a more local perspective at

Check out useful links such as insite-Tokyo, United Front Japan (Note form Admin: name now changed to United for a Multicultural Japan -- UMJ),, Hachioji International Friendship Club for general info, Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese at

Essential info about living in Japan at

All about living in Kansai at
Mirror site at

The online English Telephone Directory (called Townpage) for Japan

Japan Web Guide by Forest Linton has a good section on travel and important info about living in Japan at

The BBC Japan Season at

Newsletter of teaching jobs in Japan at

United Front Japan ((Now re-named United for a Multicultural Japan -- UMJ) is an organisation committed to promoting and defending the rights of foreign nationals in Japan and which seeks to bring together individuals, spouses, and families of international members in order to exchange support, information, and professional and personal cooperation for mutal benefit at

Kat Combs' website: Homeschooling in Japan - for children's educational concerns, get-together outings with other families around Tokyo once a month.

On bilingualism and cultural issues

On Japanese culture- Steve McCarty Japanologist/EFL Professor's extensive published work related to Japan

All about Japanese culture and

Articles on various trends and festivals in Japan

In and around Tokyo:

Dynamic website for foreigners who live in Tokyo. Includes a list of playgroups and preschools for the Tokyo area, baby-sitter info at

The online edition of The Tokyo Weekender which has excellent features on life in Japan and all knds of info from people in the know.

Info and schedules on JR trains at and also

Japan Bus and Ferry services at

Tokyo Food Page - a complete culinary guide at

Guide to ski spots in Japan at

By Anonymous on Wednesday, February 16, 2000 - 6:02 pm:

My family (originally from New Zealand)including children of 4, 6 and 8 have been offered a move to Tokyo. We are planning a trip there in late March to look at the lifestyle, schools and so on. Is there an area of Tokyo with a high proportion of western expats and international schools nearby? If so what is it? Is there a hotel or hotels nearby? Are there people or organisations we can meet at the time to talk through things we should look out for, eg housing and school arrangemants. Please advise, Thanks, Steve

By MargyCrowley on Thursday, February 24, 2000 - 2:53 pm:

My husband is taking a sabbatical to Tokyo May thru August(2000) and I'm looking for activities for my 2 kids: Dan-9 and Lisa-6. Are there activities just for them?Are there Boy Scouts or some imitation of the YM/WCA? And then when they're busy what about activities for me and family activites.

By Jenifer Larson-Hall on Friday, April 28, 2000 - 2:23 pm:

Lots of good ideas here for people moving to Japan, especially all the links. I have lived in the Tokyo area for the last year with a (starting out) 3-month-old. I am a professional linguist and picked up Japanese last time we lived in Japan, in Fukuoka for 1 1/2 years. I would recommend for families who do not all speak Japanese that living in a high-density ex-pat area would be good. We live in the suburbs, to the NorthWest in Chiba prefecture (just barely). We found a nice house here, two floors and a little back yard, through the Tokyo Housing Bureau. Apparently they rent out houses of diplomats who are out of the country for a few years or so, making it perfect for dissertation students like us. Our rent is 9 man a month, which I find totally reasonable. Now that my son can walk, the yard is really very nice too, although there are little parks all around, not far from from anywhere, at least in the suburbs. But it would be quite lonely if I didn't speak any Japanese. I have a support network through my church and have made Japanese friends there, and even talked them into starting a play group.
I want my child to be bilingual so we put him into a city day care. To do this, both parents have to be working, though. I think the daycare is excellent. They really have a good teacher-to-child ratio and I think they have a lot of fun together. It hasn't been cheap for us though. The ward office didn't count us as people with no income last year, they looked at our American income tax form, and figured out our fee based on the amount of taxes we paid in the US. We ended up paying about 5 man a month, which is comparable to full-time daycare in the US.
I have checked prices of toys in the US and Japan at Toys'R'Us and I didn't think it was worth it to bring them (I'm just an individual, not sponsored by a company, so I didn't have unlimited space). They are just a bit more expensive here, but not worth the shipping costs.
When I've gone back to the US, the kinds of food I've brought are flour (we use a bread machine here), chocolate chips, powdered sugar, cake mixes, yeast, vanilla, popcorn. I guess I wouldn't suggest that in a first trip to Japan. You can get all of those things here, they are just expensive.
I've found that most of the things I used to think you couldn't get in Japan, either 1) they are now selling more American things and I can find what I want (for example, the smell remover, Febreze) or 2)When I took the time to figure out what the label said, or had my husband do so, they had everything here I needed (maybe better--like with mosquito repellent--they have to deal with it a lot more than I did in the US!). One thing that can't compare--deodorant. I haven't found a Japanese deodorant that actually works for me.
Hope some of this is useful. Feel free to email personally if you want more info.

By Kellymorgan1 on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 6:36 am:

I guess I'll jump right in. We are moving to Tokyo (shibuya-ku) this Aug. My husband has transfered from Seattle,WA. We are a family of 5, a 14yr old daughter and two recently adopted toddlers, ages 19mo(boy) and 16mo(girl). I will definately be looking for a play group for toddlers as well as a partime childcare/house keeper. Most immediate concern is finding english speaking pediatricians as well as an adolecent counselor for my daughter's transition. I would love to receive any responses from families living in our vicinity with toddlers or teenagers. We meet both spectrums. If anyone has any information on living in Shibuya with kids I would greatly appreciate. I will be on my own much of the time as my husband travels two weeks out of every month. Parks, shopping, medical, preschool programs etc. Thanks for such a great web-site!

By shancock on Friday, June 30, 2000 - 5:21 pm:

I suggest starting with Japan for Kids- the recent new edition. On Amazon at:

Wonder what you're thinking about the adolecent counselor. Are you expecting a difficulty, or looking to prevent one?

I think you'll find your resources are wider than Shibuya. Yet, it's a small town when it comes to foreigners with children.

Have you got a place in school for the 14-yr old?

By Kellymorgan1 on Saturday, July 1, 2000 - 1:42 am:

Thank you for responding so soon. In response to the adolecent counselor, we are one -- trying to ward off any depression or frustration that she may incur leaving her friends, making new ones, learning to communicate in this very foreign environment. We also need someone to monitor her ridlin (ritilin/ritalin?) doses as she has been on a very mild dose this year for ADD. Her counselor told us that she would have to have a counselor in Japan designated to prescribe and monitor the dosage. We also have submitted our application to ASIJ. They are doing a preliminary processing but due to the fact that their decision committee will not be returning until August we will not have a definite position held befor then. That will cut it very close since we really haven't applied anywhere else. All the info that we receieved from my husband's employer indicated that that is where we should really press for admisssion. I have also been told that there is an all girls School of the Sacred Heart in Shibuya, I don't know a lot about it, do you? The one area that seemed less appealing was their lack of atheletics at the Sacred Heart as that is one area that she truley excels in and a great area for her to socialize and vent. I have also heard there is an American School in Yokohama that does have the openings for her grade, I'm just not sure if that will be to far of a hike for her to get to school. We will not have a car so I have to rely heavily on subs, school buses etc. and with two toddlers it is not a speedy process in getting everyone out of the house on time so that my daughter can get to her transportation mode. She is going to have to be responsible for transport. It seems hard core when she has had rides at her fingertips here and having me for her becken chaufer when all else has failed. She will have a lot of growing up to do this year. IF none of these schools have a space for her I am not sure what my options will be. None of us speak Japanese although our employer is going to pay for our lessons. I'm sure it will take a while though befor we feel like we can converse or even understand what is being said to us. Since we have only a 1 month window to sell our house, cars, pack say goodbyes, take care of all medical and dental problems, I don't think we will really start on a Japanese course until we actually arrive in Tokyo. I am really not panicking though because life is the way it is and everything always moves forward. We just need to be open to what lays ahead. In other words we are winging it. I hope that we are not too naive. I was not sure in what you meant by resourses in Shibuya and outside. Am I near a large American population in Shibuya. We have only been given info from our relocation rep and she provided the realtor whom helped us select an apartment. We really are clueless to our surroundings. I made the decision on our apt. 1- on size, 2- proximity to my husbands work and my daughters bus route, and where I would be able to do our grocery shopping and other needs without having to get on a subway with two babies and a double stroller. I think that is my greatest fear because the strollers are heavy. I have already figured out that when I have to go outside of walking distance I will put my son in a backpack and daughter will go in her Combi (lightweight and foldable). Other than that our feet are our mode. My babies will have to become avid walkers. Thanks for the info I will definately purchase the book you recommended.

By shancock on Saturday, July 1, 2000 - 6:40 am:


Sounds like you do have a bit of a situation there with your 14-yr old. I do hope you get into ASIJ. They are definitely the school equipped to deal with special situations. Sacred Heart is in Shibuya and would be very convenient, but I don't know if they are equipped to deal with the ADD situation. You might want to start asking them about it now.

Going to Yokhohama would be a 40-60 minute train ride or so. Not impossible, and not that much longer in time than going to ASIJ on their bus. The difference is public transport vs a private bus. More controlled evironment, which I imagine would be helpful with a teenager...?

I wonder what you mean by "a counselor to monitor her ritalin (ritilin?) dose"? I thought only doctors could prescribe drugs? Seems we know an MD here that specializes in ADD. We'll dig that out and send it later. His name is Chumsky. Will have to research for the number.

I wonder where in Shibuya you will be. What's another part of the address? If there is Hiroo in it, you are in the 'gaijin gulch' part of Shibuya and you would be in walking distance to the grocery store that will have familiar products and unfamiliar prices.

After you get settled, you might want to think about getting a car. IF you have parking with your apartment, a used car can be had for a reasonable amount. Then, you have to get over driving on the 'other' side. Thousands do it every day. With two toddlers, I think you would benefit from it. If parking does not come with your apartment, it can cost $300-500/month. Maybe the company will cover it?

Don't sweat the Japanese language thing so much. Once you get the basic shopping words, you can get by without a lot of Japanese. Of course, more comfortable with.

About taking care of medical & dental in a rush- although we too, do the dental thin with our familiar hometown dentist, it is possible to get these kinds of care in English and with familiar procedures here. So, not a big deal if you have to do some of it here.

Everyone becoming avid walkers is good thing, too.

Sounds like you are on a good start by accepting that you're winging it.

Among some frustrations here, one of the good points is that people are generally very helpful.

By 'resources outside Shibuya', I meant that other areas are not so far away, so if you read about some doctor or shop that isn't in Shibuya, it may be closer than you think. Do you have an English map of Tokyo?

Let us know if you have any other specific concerns.


By Kellymorgan1 on Sunday, July 9, 2000 - 1:52 am:

Thank you for the information. Yes, I would like the number to Dr. Chumsky's when you have a chance to find it. I do need a physcian to prescribe ridilin. We are still working through the education dilema for our daughter. ASIJ will not be able to make a decision until August and they have also suggested that we apply to other schools in case they are not able to facilitate her needs. I have sent for applications from St. Maur's,Sacred Hearts, and Yokohama International school. do you have an opinion on any of these schools or are there any that I may have missed. We are open to either the eighth or nineth grade, as a review for her would not be awful since my daughter was just recently diagnosed and also because there just might be more space in one grade opposed to the other. I hope something works out. We got our address the other day and unfortunately it does not have Hiro in it.We are in Sakuragaoka. Any idea of where we are in relationship to grocery stores, shopping, other American's, parks? Our movers should be here in about 10 days, we had planned on being in Tokyo by the 10th of August.. We are rethinking this because they said it may take up to 8 weeks for our household items to be delivered. We are given only 30 days of hotel which we will use two weeks up here before we even leave. Two months is a long time for sleeping on the floor. We'll probably get folding mats or something.Thanks for all of the info.

By shancock on Sunday, July 9, 2000 - 7:53 am:


Sounds as if your ability to cope is being tested.

The schools you mentioned are ok. I think you should really try to figure out a way to visit them before making a comittment. Perhaps at the expense of not starting school on the very first day of the school year?
With all your factors, I would think moving carefully is more important than moving quickly.

Sakuragaoka is the other side of Shibuya from Hiroo. So, you're not in walking distance to the grocery stores with imported food. Not the end of the world.
Especially if your address has "Evergreen" in it. There is compound of houses called Evergreen Homes (?) which we have always pined after (ouch).Great exterior space. Don't know about the interior. It's not new.
This area is close to Shibuya station- which means tons of shopping other than the above. If you did wind up at ASIJ, this is probably a later stop on the bus route.

You have some tricky scheduling to work out there. If the movers are saying "8 weeks" and you only have 30 days of hotel, seems as if you have a guaranteed gap to fill!
One possibility might be to get a furnished weekly apartment rather than a hotel. The daily rate would be less, so maybe you could negotiate with your company to get the duration you need for nearly the same money?
Asahi Homes is a very popular provider of this kind of place.

Let us know if there's anything else...


By Kellymorgan1 on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 12:35 am:

Hi Scott,
I haven't been on-line for awhile. I decided to let details rest for awhile so that I could clear my head a little. From the response that I received from ASIJ it looks like it might be alot more challenging than I had anticipated in getting a placement for our daughter. Do you know if the School of The Sacred Hearts is more selective than ASIJ. I sent an E-mail requesting an application but have not heard from anyone. I was assuming that they are closed for the Summer. I am going to call this evening and see if I can reach someone over the phone. St. Maur's is still a consideration as is the International School in Yokoham. With your knowledge of the city. Is that an unreasonable transportation for my daughter on the subways or do you see it as do-able. We have been advised that our I best plan of action will be to take my daughter to the schools and meet directly with them opposed to having her school records sent before meeting them. She will sell herself far better than her transcripts. We have now put a backup plan together for her with a school in the states if we do not find an acceptable solution. That is only a last resort as I would really like to enjoy this experience with her. ASIJ is reccommending a tutoring organization. I don't want that for an option. My daughter is a beautiful,very social, ahtletic, and artistic individual whom is doing very average work in school now that she is on ridilin. It disappoints me that they are so reactive to the ADD opposed to looking at the whole child. My husband has still requested an interview when we arrive, We have the means to provide her with any tutoring support that she will need to acheive success. I just wonder what their fear is.Is it that her test scores may bring down their average? We will be moving August 4th, that is the 5th there, Will the weather still be hot and sticky? How has the summer been so far? Hope you are having a good summer, thank you for all of the details and infor, also I would love to have the number for Dr. Chumsky also if you have a referal for a pediatrician I would appreciate that. Take care.

By Cornelia on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 2:13 am:

Dear Kelly,

There is another school that you might not have looked at that sometimes takes kids with special needs after an interview. I sort of forgot the exact name, something like "YMCA International Open-minded School"

It's on the schools list at:
I met one of their top staff at the Tokyo American Club schools fair in January, and he was one of those people who just makes you feel like your kid is going to be approached with the right philosophy. Sorry, don't remember his name.

By shancock on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 3:04 am:

Hello Kelly,

I imagine you are very busy getting ready for the big move.

ASIJ reaction-
You seem to be saying that they are either specifically reacting to the ADD situation, or are indirectly
referring to it. If you're not getting a clear statement, you might ask them for it, so you know what you're up against.
If they are specifically basing a reservation on it, then it may be that they feel their resources for providing whatever additional support is necessary are too limited.

Sacred Heart-
As far as Sacred Heart goes, I don't think they are any more "selective"- but my impression is that their resources for special situations would be even more limited than ASIJ. From what I understand, ASIJ is the best equipped- short of the truly "special needs" school.
Most schools are fairly deserted during July. Staff tend to start trickling back in mid-August. There is a Japanese summer holiday "season" called O-bon from around August 7 to 16 or so. So, you may not get much response until even after that. Keep trying, though.

It would not be at all unusual for a teenager to make the train trip to/from Yokohama. You will see 4-year olds on the subways- usually in pairs, but sometimes even alone! You might do it together the first few times.

Going personally-
Sounds about right to me; especially with the summer holidays halting communication anyway. Hate to hear it as feeling like the need to "sell herself" though. Guess that's the world we live in...

Tutoring organization-
Probably referring to ISSS. They are well established and have many different tutors. If you do get involved with them, be sure to interview as many people as possible to get a good match. And it may mean trying more than a couple. It may not be a bad alternative for the first few months- until you can get around and make those pitches. Wouldn't that be better than sending her to boarding school?

Fears of schools-
I would first take the attitude that any school wants to provide what is needed for any student. The hesitancy may be because they're concerned they won't be able to meet her needs. But, having said that- yes I do think schools also need to keep their stats up.

Weather in early August-
You could assume it will be very hot & humid. August is the worst month, with early September also bad. There was a good bit of rain for the last two weeks or so and lately it's getting fairly warm. Well, relative to Seattle it would be hot.

I did try to get this Chumsky number, but it is eluding still. You might want to also try calling TELL (Tokyo English Life Line) ( for the counselor and maybe peidatrician you were looking for, also. They are your best bet for that. Did I mention the "Japan for Kids" book? They have a couple of pediatricians mentioned in there. Be sure to visit on your own before committing.

Hang in there and let us know if you have more questions or discussion.


Looking back on your previous comments about your daughter, I would urge you to consider putting together some kind of "home schooling" with ISSS tutoring, if all else fails.

I noticed you are concerned about athletics and social things. These would still be available through Tokyo American Club and maybe other directions. You don't have to be a member to participate in the youth sports. ( some art courses, as well. Or, there are plenty of Japanese art courses run independently.

So, with some creativity and initiative, I think you could put together a system for your daughter that would allow you to stay together. She'll be leaving soon enough, right!?

(And ours are only 6 & 9 :) )

By Kellymorgan1 on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 5:01 pm:

Thank you everyone for all of your input. My husband and I have really come to the same conclusion as your E-mails have indicated. We have started getting creative this weekend with options. As a last resort we thought about letting her stay with my sister and work on another semester in order for her to demonstrate her ability to succeed in a program. She is very close to my sister and that would not be the worst option, although we have really made a commitment to research all options while we are all there. If she misses a quarter in the process, oh well, just learning a new cluture will be an education in itself. We are planning on visiting the American Club, we visited their web page on line and saw there was an opportunities for everyone in our family to participate in some program offered. Great suggestion though. Thank you for the input! I probably won't be on-line for awhile now as the movers will be here Wed to move our possesions..Look forward to conversing in Tokyo.

By norica on Thursday, August 3, 2000 - 9:12 am:

Hello. My husband is an American dentist. I would like to know if there is any way he can practice in japan. Would please someone let me know who I can contact regarding this matter?

By Scott Hancock on Thursday, August 3, 2000 - 9:48 am:

I would think he would have to be licensed by the relative authority in Japan. His professional organization must have connections to similar groups in other countries. That would seem more efficient than starting to call around to government offices. Information is often difficult to find here- even when you speak the language.


By Cornelia on Saturday, August 12, 2000 - 12:41 pm:

Dear Kelly,

I just read in the August 14 issue of _US News and World Report_ (page 59) the following:

"Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Concerta, which provides the same active ingredient found in Ritalin, the most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD. A dose of Concerta, made by Alza Corp., lasts 12 hours - three times as long as Ritalin - allowing kids to avoid interrupting class or recess to take pills."

Maybe you can bring anough medicine along and then set up some arrangement to have refills sent to you, at least until you figure out how things are done here and which medicines are approved in Japan.

Just a thought. Cornelia

By Fiona Ness on Sunday, August 13, 2000 - 5:25 am:

Hi, I'm hoping somone can help me. My husband, myself and our four children are moving to Yokohama in 5 weeks. The youngest children are 11 month old twin girls and are both soon due to have their MMR immunisation. I really don't want them to have it early because of the link to autisum etc. Does anyone know if they do the MMR vacine in Japan????
Many thanks

By Juliane Suzuki on Sunday, August 13, 2000 - 9:32 am:

Dear Fiona,

The MMR is not given in one injection in Japan. In fact, only Measles (Hashika in Japanese) and Rubella (Fuushin) are recommended and subsidized by Yokohama City. The immunization schedule for Measles is one shot between the ages of 12 months and 24 months. Rubella is given in one shot between 12months and 36 months of age. Any local doctor will be able to provide these immunisations for you.

You can also get an immunization for Mumps. Since it's not subsidized I don't have the details in my book, but again, a local doctor would be able to provide it for you.

When you go the your local ward office in Yokohama to register as a foreigner, ask if you are eligible to receive the child health book (Boshitecho), as this will enable you to get the measles and rubella immunizations for free. My kids were born in Japan and have dual citizenship, so I am not sure what happens in the case of foreign parents that arrive after the birth of the child. Perhaps someone else reading TWK can helps you with that.

In general, Japan is much more cautious with immunizations. For example the DPT (triple antigen for Diptheria, Whooping Cough and tetanus) is given to babies 3-12 months old in three separate shots (3 to 8 weeks apart) and a booster 18 months later, but the DPT cannot be given in conjuction with any other immunization. Whereas in Australia the DPT, polio and Hib (for meningitis) are all given on the same day (three times at two month intervals).

Hope this helps.

Juliane Suzuki
Izumi-ku, Yokohama City

By Natalie on Monday, August 14, 2000 - 2:19 pm:

This response is for Fiona:
When it was my childrens' time to get their MMR, we went to the Tokyo Surgical & Medical Clinic (03)3436-3028 where they give the MMR in one shot as they do in the US & Canada. Unfortunately, medical insurance plans do not cover the cost of immunizations. The MMR cost was 10,000yen per child. I preferred the clinic because most of the doctors are native English speakers, trained overseas, and more importantly, I could make an appointment on a Saturday. In my ward, the free immunizations were offered in the middle of the day during the weekday, when many people work. The rule at my children's daycare was that a child immunized could not go back to the daycare the day of and the day after immunization, so that was 2 days off work per child per visit. This would have meant 3 separate visits, one each for measles, mumps & rubella per child, a total of 12 days off!!

By Cornelia on Monday, August 14, 2000 - 4:06 pm:

Dear Fiona,

My daughter goes to a ward (government) daycare in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. They don't have any rule about keeping a child out for immunizations. Thank heaven! If they did, I think I simply wouldn't tell them, and if I was caught, I'd plead ignorance. What a preposterous policy! My ward lets us get most immunizations except the polio and the BCG at a long list of local hospitals, clinics and private practices. It's pretty hard not to find one within bicycling distance. And all of them have Saturday morning hours if not every Saturday, than at least one or two Saturdays every month, with a pediatrician on duty (who gives the shots). Unfortunately to know all this you need someone to help you read the notice that comes in the mail with your immunization voucher, if, like me, you can't read it yourself. (I am Japanese-illiterate.)

There is a separate discussion all about immunizations (you can easily find it by typing in "immunization" in the Forums Key Word Search function, blue column to the left on the Forums pages). Your question has in fact been answered there already. You could even do a key word search for "measles" or "rubella", even "MMR" would have gotten you there.

Please also read the FYI page on the Mother/Child Health Handbook. This is something you should pick up for each child under 6 years old at your local ward office.

Best wishes.

By Fiona Ness on Wednesday, August 16, 2000 - 6:45 am:

Thankyou for replying to my message, your infomation has been helpful.

By helen on Tuesday, August 29, 2000 - 1:17 am:

hello --
i'm planning on going to japan next year for about seven months and wish to rent a short-term apartment of some sort. the problem is that i plan on bringing my small beagle with me there, and from previous experience, i am aware that gaijin guest houses will not permit me to bring a dog. the only way is rent apartments the traditional way -- paying key money and security deposit and so forth, which amounts to an exorbitant amount of cash upfront. does anybody know how i can get short-term housing in tokyo with a dog but not have to deal with paying so much "sunk costs" for such a relatively short period of time??

By Andrea Clifford on Friday, September 29, 2000 - 5:15 pm:

Hi there,

I am hoping someone out there may be able to give me some advice based on their experiences living in Japan. My husband has been offered a transfer from Toronto, Canada for almost a year to Tokyo. We have two boys aged 4 and 1. I am concerned about culture shock and lack of other english speaking people. Is there a particular place in Tokyo where many expatriates live? His office will be in Shinjuku and we have been told that Shibuya is a good place to find an apartment. We will not have a car so I need to be relatively near to supermarkets that sell some western food. If you have the time could you please email me with your thoughts about living in Japan (e.g. entertainment, english tv or radio, getting around busy Tokyo with two small children, etc). Any information about playgroups or schooling for a 4 year old would also interest me.



By shancock on Saturday, September 30, 2000 - 4:19 pm:

A posting for less than a year is kind of short. It's long enough that
you need to set up houskeeping, but may be a little short to really get
settled. At least your boys are young enough that you don't have school
upheavals. So, it will be an adventure.

Don't worry about lack of other English speaking people. There are many.
Ask at your company if you will have access to Tokyo American Club. Many
expats find refuge there ( Although the more one hangs
out there, the less one experiences of Japan. Depends on personal
preferences on this.

"Culture shock" may be an issue. It's important to stay loose and not
expect things to "make sense" as they do at home. What should make it
easier is that Japanese people are mostly very helpful when it comes to
day-to-day needs. If you stay away from getting angry when things aren't
what you expect, shopkeepers and the like will do their best to meet
your needs.

I keep seeing this recommendation to live in "Shibuya". It's a fairly
wide area of Tokyo; and varies from the intensely commercial area around
Shibuya station to the "gaijin gulch" residential area of Hiroo (that's
long "o", not as in "food"). (gaijin=foreigner) The Hiroo area is where
your supermarket with imported food is. There is another one near an
area called Azabu Juban. This is also a very nice neighborhood because
Azabu Juban is also an old shopping street with many small shops. Some
of them have been there for 80 years. And you also have this
supermarket. There is also a brand new subway station there.

Will you have a chance to choose your housing before moving in? Or, will
it be chosen for you in advance? The former is better, of course. Most
companies doing a transfer like that will have a real estate agent show
you around to a few (or many) alternatives. The ones that do this should
be very familiar with your concerns as they are the same for most
foreigners coming in.

As for schools/playgroups, there is a fine list on the Japan With Kids
site. This is the place to start. Visit several of them before deciding.
We have experience with Sunshine Montessori School which we highly
recommend. Many new ones are popping up now as there has been an influx
of foreigners with young families.

Although Tokyo can be daunting, I think it is a great place to to for a
first foreign posting. You can't really "get into trouble" here as you
might in some more hostile places. The worst thing that can happen is
you get lost and have to pop for a taxi to get you home. (always carry a
map back). So, I encourage you to look at it as a great adventure. It
will not be what you expect- whatever that is.

Please let me know if you have any other specific questions.

Scott Hancock

By First Kaki on Thursday, November 9, 2000 - 10:51 pm:

Hi, one and all. I have lived here in lovely Shizuoka Perfecture for 14 years. My husband will be transferred to "the Shinjuku head office" next spring. Although I am very lucky to have so much time to prepare for the move, I am feeling daunted by the prospect. We are looking toward the Yokohama area. Anyone there, please help.

Could you recommend any particular area where there are individual homes as opposed to huge apartment buildings. Also, we have two children - 1st and 3rd grades - are there any particularly good elementary schools? And how about YIS? Can you enter from the junior high level?

I know it's a lot to ask, but I would appreciate any and all information/opinions out there.

By S Brunton on Sunday, December 10, 2000 - 7:49 pm:

We are an Australian family with a 10 month old boy looking to move to Tokyo in the new year (2001).

We are looking for an area to live in that is no more than 20 mins from the CBD on a direct train line but has some "green" space and an ex pat community. Any suggestions and what is likely cost??

While i have been on maternity leave in Australia I have really established myself in the "mum" community with activities like mothers groups, play groups and baby gym classes. Are there such activities available to ex pats in tokyo.

I would also like to get a nanny for 1 to 2 days a week to look after my son. How easy it it to find good english speaking nannies and are they really expensive?

Thanks for your help

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, December 10, 2000 - 9:52 pm:

S Brunton-
It would be easier to give you more useful information if you can define your situatin a bit more specifically. Things are a bit more complicated here than I think they are in Australia.

For one thing, the range of expense for housing varies hugely. People coming as ex-pats for foreign companies would pay close to 1 million yen/month and beyond. If one is a local hire, that's not usually possible. Which isn't to say you can't live for less. Better to give some indication of what your housing budget will be to point you in a direction.

Also, there is not really a CBD. Tokyo is massively spread out. If you are coming with a spouse who is tranferred, please indicate the area of the office. 20 minutes from any central area though is a bit close if you are really looking for green space.

The activities you mentioned are available here in the English speaking community.

English speaking nannies can be found, but you should only try people who have very substantial recommendations that you trust. I think there was a post recently on the cost of this.

It's also helpful if you indicate whether your posting will be for a finite or indefinite period.

Living here can be a great adventure if you approach it positively and with great flexibility. Whatever you expect it to be- it will be something different.


By Jane Branson on Tuesday, December 12, 2000 - 4:22 pm:

Hi S.Brunton
We are an aussie family that moved here October 19 so I am still a new comer but I think I can help.
Accommodation - unless you want to live miles away you are going to be living in an apartment which is actually a good way to meet people. The aim is to live near a nice park, supermarket and subway.
Nannies - phillipino nannies are the popular choice and you will have no trouble finding someone with a few spare days a week. Theses ladies are also happy to clean,iron,shop etc.
Activities - I recommend the Tokyo American Club as a starting point especially if your company will pay for membership. It offers many activities, has a creche, a gym and and is a great place to meet people. I have found I am starting to find out about other activities and now I have met some people we have playdates etc. There are great places to take kids in Tokyo. My favourites include 100yen park, childrens castle, childrens hall. I also recommend you get a copy of 'Japan for Kids:The Ultimate Guide for Parents and Their Children' by Dianne Wiltshire/Jeanne Huey - it is a great source of info although a bit over enthusiastic at times. I am at the stage where I still get an anxiety attack everytime I have to go somewhere new but have to say that we are having a great time as a family - hope you do too!

By priscilla on Wednesday, January 17, 2001 - 6:36 pm:

Can anyone recommend a place to live with foreign community around, but thats not the "total gaigin social scene" of the Minato-ku or Yokohama areas?

After having lived in Japan for 7 years, and having lived in several places in Tokyo, my Japanese husband and American self still feel overwhelmed by the possibilities of our next move, this time looking to buy a place. Tokyo is huge! I am wondering if there is a great little community of mixed-raced toddlers playing together out there somewhere in W. Tokyo that I don't know of (our routines center around Futagotamagawa, Kitchijoji/Nishi-Ogikubo, Harajuku/Aoyama). We are not the trad. company sponsored ex-pat family (not going to be a member of TAC or get a nannie anytime soon) ~~ looking for something a bit more, ummm,... offbeat.

We would like as much space as possible(so centermost areas are out), somewhere near big green space, a view of the mountains, toddler/preschool-kid-friendly activities/playgroups/ and ideally a great Montessori school (we don't plan to stay for more than 5~8 years). We have been thinking of Kitchijoji/Inokashira (and I know some cool active moms and kids there already), or somewhere on the Toyoko Line(better chance of a view past the Tama?). But what about other lines/areas we haven't considered? Does anyone with little kids love where they live, have friends that do, or dream of living somewhere else?

By Cornelia on Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 10:15 am:

Excellent reading:
Karen Tei Yamashita's travelogue:

When you finish the stuff on Japan, watch out, you may get sucked in by her other writings!

By Jackie on Friday, March 30, 2001 - 3:45 am:

To Mike--

6 months is late to respond, but if you have decided to come out here, there is competitive soccer and competitive ice hockey for children, it's just in Japanese. We know several foreigners on (5th grade and 4th grade) on ice hockey teams. It takes time to get there, they have to function in the Japanese environment, parents are reliant on the kindness of other parents/coaches for information--but it can be and is done here. For soccer, there are many club teams--Most neighborhoods have them either via elementary schools or through club leagues. Our sons are on their local Japanese school soccer and baseball teams. Both teams have one foreign child attending international school on the team. (And would welcome more) We have a friend on the Yokohama pro team's youth team--I would imagine the other pro teams have youth clubs, too.

To Priscilla

We live in the Meguro-ku Aobadai/Shibuya-ku Daikanyama area and think it's great for families. There are several parks around (Saigoyama and a new one--Sugekari opening any day), many foreign and Japanese children, great facilities within a 15 minute bike ride away (Tokyo-to Jido kaikan, Children's Castle, The indoor Shibuya-ku pool), and Daikanyama has lots of great restaurants and interesting shops.


Note from Admin: On the subject of soccer and ice hockey please check out the Sports section under the General Discussions and also this page under "Entertainment".

By melissa mcnulty on Sunday, April 15, 2001 - 2:27 pm:

Can anyone help me with the following (or point me in the right direction)? Is it possible to use North American electronic/electrical equipment in Tokyo? We are in the throes of getting our stuff together for moving quotes, and I have no idea (coming originally from New Zealand, having lived in Saitama, but now in the U.S.) what to bring and what to leave behind (e.g. tv, stereo, vcr, microwave, rice cooker, lamps, toaster, bread maker). Is it necessary/possible to buy relevant transformers in Japan? Or would it be easier to ditch this stuff and buy it in Japan?

I was also wondering about the availability of kids books (in English). I remember Kinokunya Books well, but didn't have a child back when I was in Japan last, so didn't notice what was around.

Cost of living...diapers, formula and baby food-does anyone know how much these items cost in Japan? Should I be loading up my suitcase with Isomil? Stuffing diapers in my carry-on bag? And are there any baby items that people miss/ wish they had brought with them to Japan?

Lastly, can anyone recommend (or otherwise) an international moving company? Although we are a company sponsered move, this is the first time my husband's company has relocated someone to Japan, so we are helping to research as much info as possible.


By Pam on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 6:05 am:

We are considering moving (back) to Tokyo, but this time with 2 kids (a 2 year old and a 7 mnth old). The information provided have been very helpful but I would like to know if there are activities for, and if such places such as 100yen park, childrens castle, childrens hall accommodate babies and toddlers. Also, mums with children of similar age as mine, how are getting around Tokyo? I don't really intend to get a car and can't imagine pushing my double buggy around Tokyo! Thanks for any information.

By Amy Uehara on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 9:26 am:

Hello, Pam,
you wrote you have a 2 y.o. and a 7m.o.and "I don't really intend to get a car and can't imagine pushing my double buggy around Tokyo!"

I don't understand what other options there are. You have a car or you schlep kids around in a buggy, on a bicycle, or on your back and on trains. Or, you get someone to do it for you. I never had a car with mine the same age as yours, then. It was tough. Even with a car, there are just places not worth the effort of finding a parking space.And one just has to schlep even if one has a car.That's the beauty of Tokyo. I knew a woman who sewed bicycle ponchos from shower curtains for her two after arriving from Hawaii. She suddenly found herself "out in the rain" a lot. "It's an adventure".
Good luck,

By Cornelia on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 9:46 am:

Totally to the point Amy, yes, I think "momhood" can be partially defined as "Loss of Mobility" and "Pack Animal", even with a car! Definitely check out the bicycle option Pam (my daycare passed out advice in one of their newsletters not to take more than 2 children on your bicycle - gee, I scratched my head how WOULD you take 3?) Try to find a neighborhood without any really huge hills... We love my bicycle so much that I got a second one for back-up (actually the first one was stolen, but then the police found it, so now I have two).

By Amy on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 10:07 am:

Glad you got your bicycle back,Cornelia.
The bicycles are fun.Helmets for the kids. We all crashed once on a busy sidewalk. Can be dangerous with two. But, still convenient and my kids love that memory. I had a friend who said, "I'd never do that." Years later, I saw her with th 4y.o. on the back, the 2y.o. on the front and the 7m.o. on her back.So, it can be done. Shouldn't be done, but food's got to be bought and not everyone has hired help and the option of leaving them home alone is not a very good one.

By kslm on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 2:06 pm:

it IS hard to imagine pushing a buggy in this concrete metropolis! Seems somehow out of place. We've been here a year and don't have a car, nor do we want one. I think the decision is whether you prefer dealing with car seats, traffic and parking, or dealing with the physical challenge of pushing/carrying strollers up and down hills, subway stairs/escalators, etc.

If you go the no car route, I would highly recommend a super-lite stroller (I have one made by Combi) which folds up easily and has a carry strap. You may also want to consider a stroller that has a space where your older toddler can stand/ride. You'll wear out the strollers fast, so having a couple on hand would be a good idea.

By Caroline on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 7:52 pm:

Dear kslm,

I'd like to know where to get one of those strollers that you described that has a space for an older toddler to stand/ride (what brand makes them?). I saw someone using it once and thought it was wonderful, and since we're contemplating having another baby... Thanks in advance!


By Amy on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 8:13 pm:

While on the subject of strollers, I had a Combi collapsable stroller for one child. The other child I wore. It served its purpose unless the street was uneven and I had to maneuvre it around light poles and it and umbrella strollers tended to get caught in railroad tracks flush with pavement.A week stroller for hilly terrain. So, I was so happy to find a tough Italian stroller at Toys-R-Us with larger wheels. Strong enough for both to sit, even at 2 and 4 and laid flat for naps. The handle changed levels for taller parents. It was a life saver and actually held groceries. Don't remember the brand but you might have a sturdy stroller on hand for longer walking trips and the lighter one for short walks or for trains. I had a US umbrella stroller but the wheels wouldn't roll right in the supermarkets; not to mention there is no place to hang the groceries.

By Pam on Wednesday, April 18, 2001 - 10:47 pm:

Thanks everyone for the information. I forgot about bicycles (didn't have one when I was living there).

I am spoilt for choice for activities (baby yoga, playgroup, music, swim class ...) here in London and would like to know if there are similar activities for under 5s there.

(We're not even committed to moving yet but your information will help in our decision!!)

By melissa mcnulty on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 12:23 am:

Hi Caroline

You can get a special piggy-back attachment(the "kiddyBoard or the "BuggyBoard") for your stroller that allows a toddler to stand/ride on the back of your stroller at This company sells alot of great stuff, and has a mail order catalog. Hope this helps!

By kslm on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 10:48 pm:

the stroller I mentioned is called "Baby Trend Sit n Stand". By the way, the piggy-back attachment doesn't fit all strollers, so be sure to try it on your stroller before purchasing.

By Mike on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 7:24 pm:

I was wondering when i move to tokyo, where there would be good places to learn the language, and study it. I would like to eventually become fluant in both english and japanese.
Is there any kind of place to get a personal guide to go through tokyo with me that knows english and japanese that can help me out in public places and speaking to others. (kinda like a translator)?
Where would be the best place to live in tokyo for someone who doesnt know the language at all or well?
Would you recommend having kids and teaching them english first and japanese second, or teach them japanese first and english second?
Sorry that is alot of stuff to research and if you could please reply to my e-mail address because i dont think im going to be at this site enough to chech up on the updates. Thank you to whoever replies

By larsonhall on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 12:08 am:

Hi, I am moving back to Japan for the third time in 5 years! So I don't need much advice about living in Japan, but on my way back to the US last time I did container shipping with a company I saw advertised in a foreigners magazine. Some glitches, but overall I think I saved a lot of money. Now I'm wondering if I can do it back the other way! I live in Pittsburgh, so near the East Coast. Has anyone ever done container shipping themselves from the US to Japan?
Jenifer Larson-Hall

By MIKE on Sunday, August 26, 2001 - 5:59 am:

Hi everyone, well I wanted to know if someone could tell me how's Tokio like, you know I'm moving over to go to college (or so I've been told) I really don't wanna move from the U.S. cause I don't know any Japanes or Mandarin, but if someone could help me out I would be very greatful. (Note, my parents are forcing me to go.)

By Jeremy Price on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 3:16 am:


My real name is Jeremy Price. I was born in Japan and lived there till i was three. My dad was in the military stationed there. I am now 17 going on 18, and would like to live the rest of my life in Japan, do you know how i could arrange a living place, like an apartment, and how i could find a job. Personally i am more worried of the language barrier, I am trying to learn Japanese as quick as possible, can anyone help me with that too? Thanks for your answers.


By Nadie Sadychow on Tuesday, September 18, 2001 - 9:19 pm:

hi,I'm a 16year-old and my parents actually planed that I will make a school-exchange in ´canada or usa next year(2002/03), but a japanese friend of my mother (she studied english with her) offered me to come to tokyo for a year and attend an international high I'm a bit worried because I had japanese lessons only for a year (and haven't started with kanji yet),and I don't know what about my high school diploma. is it actually legal to come alone to japan at my age?
(I'm speaking german ,englisch and russian,more orless fluently)

By Cornelia on Wednesday, September 19, 2001 - 7:08 am:

Dear Nadie,

You raise an interesting question. "Legality"

I was permitted to travel alone to Mexico City when I was 16 to participate in a summer course of study at the University of Mexico City. I had a letter with me signed by both my parents giving me permission to leave the USA for the purpose of... etc. The course was only 8 weeks instead of 12 months and the cost was much lower than the project you appear to be undertaking. For example, an "international high school" in Tokyo is basically a private school teaching in a language other than Japanese. I think you can basically choose between German (in Yokohama City), French and English. You can not get into a Japanese High School without passing an examination in Japanese.

Your options are basically home schooling or an international school if you can get a place. OR you could study at a Japanese Language School. The tuition is stunningly high at the international schools but the Japanese Language Schools are not as pricey. Take a look at the list of schools at:

I imagine that it is legal for you to spend a year here if you are under the auspices of a family (you would get a one year student visa or a dependent's visa and they would be responsible for you) and enrolled in a school. You would need to get some paperwork filled out and so on.

I will try to forward your questions to someone who might be able to answer them better than I can.

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, September 19, 2001 - 11:56 am:

What you are proposing seems to break down into two areas of preparation and investigation - school credits and immigration. This is not something that you can arrange instantly. There are applications to file for both issues.

As Cornelia said, you have some choice of high schools in languages other than Japanese. I would also suggest you look at the applicability of credits to your local system. For this, you need to know what your current school system accepts, assuming this is important to you. This would seem to be an issue if you are planning to go back to your local school to finish high school.

The other thing about international schools is that you need to apply and give them the relevant information such as your transcript, etc.
Then, the school(s) let you know if they can accept you or not. It is not a situation where you just show up and start.

You need to get permission from Japanese Immigration to stay in the country for that long. The way it works basically in usual cases is that the breadwinner of a family proves their need to stay in Japan and on that basis gets a visa for themselves and their family.

What the procedure for a minor without their family would be, I don't know. There are certainly student visas, but I don't know how available they are to "minors without family". This would take some investigation and there again, applications need to be filed and approved. Especially as you have a kind of unusual circumstance, it could take some time to get in order. (a month? some months?)

Your proposed Japanese host family would be in the best position to inquire about this. Or, possibly your parents can inquire at the Japanese consulate in your country.

Sounds like a great opportunity for you.


By Tara on Friday, September 21, 2001 - 12:12 am:


look at the conversation under Education in Japan, Japanese Schools, High School

By Andrea Brewster on Thursday, November 29, 2001 - 5:49 am:

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful help and comments about living in Japan. My husband and I are artists and have been given the opportunity to live in Japan for six months as a sort of cultural exchange. We'd like to live in Kyoto. Has anyone ever lived there? What areas/ suburbs of the city are nice and relatively inexpensive- our budget is around JY 100,000? Someplace, near parks, shopping etc... as we have an 8 month old daughter? Is it possible to rent furnished places for that amount, don't want to have to buy a bunch of furniture for just six months. Any and all help would be very much appreciated!!!!! Andrea

By Gloria Torrijos on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 10:35 pm:

I wonder if anybody knows how expensive is the diesel in Japan and how high is the discount that diplomats get in prices of the various tips of gasoline.
Thank you! Gloria

By Arturo Camillacci on Sunday, February 1, 2004 - 8:34 pm:

Hi Gloria,

I worked as a staff member of a foreign Embassy in Tokyo around 10 years ago, and back then we were provided with a carnet of vouchers and a list of gas stations which accepted them (many were in Tokyo and Osaka, but there was at least one for every prefecture, and several of them were located on highways).
We had to use a voucher every time we filled up our tank, and the discount was pretty substantial (we paid our gas around 88 Yen per liter when the average price was around 115-125 Yen).
The monthly allowance was 200 liters per month for every car we owned, and we never reached that quota during all the six years we were there.
Take note of the fact that the discount was only on gasoline. Owners of diesel vehicles had to pay the regular price (which is pretty much cheaper anyway).