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going to be in japan for 2 years, any tips?

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im in the process of registering for a 2 year course in japanese, at Kansai Gaidai courtesy of the post 9/11 GI bill, so all expenses will be covered.

my main concerns will be finding a good apartment, translating my license for the IDP, and setting up banking overseas.

So does anyone recommend any good apartments near Hirakata, Osaka ?

I have bank of america and just got the Travel Rewards card which allows credit purchases with no fees, but from what I read most stores accept cash only. Is it beneficial to just transfer to citibank instead? My main concern will be withdrawal fees of 5 dollars everytime.

Also, I have some questions regarding phone/ internet service. What are the best internet service providers in that region? Anyone have experience with this?
I don't really need a phone, just internet.

Also the concern about shipping a lot of clothes and luggage overseas, is it best to ship everyone ahead of time? or just take what you can with you on the flight?


also are there agencies or something that can assist with transitions like this to make everything easier?

and if anyone has any useful info that i might not think about , i'd be glad to hear any, it will help me greatly!
 
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Apartments - For living I would talk to the university and see what they have or recommend. Otherwise you will need a local real estate agent, find the apartment, pay the deposit, agent fee, possibly key money, guarantor fee and of course rent. You will also need furnishings. Many landlords still deny foreigners, even if they don't say it directly. You won't know until the agent calls them.

There are furnished places like leopalace.com that include furnishings, utilities and internet. Easy and take international students. (I've used them and it worked okay)

Banking - Shinsei bank may be possible, or use 7-11 atms to withdraw from the US. Citibank is no longer available in Japan, it is now SMBC. (As a student I used the 711 atms.) . Japan Post atms also work well internationally. Both have english.

IDP, driving permit? useful for a year but not after. I don't have the rules available.

Shipping - I came with two suitcases. Not sure why you would want to send more. You have to send it back or dispose when you leave.

Good luck!

J
 
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thanks for the reply. I will look into SMBC, i did just read an article about that change.
regarding shipping the stuff, 2 years will be some time and i'd like atleast a full wardrobe and things like my computer and probably my TV as well. I'd rather ship the stuff i have now, rather than re-buying everything when I get there.
and leopalace seems kind of .. inadequate for somewhere i'd live for 2 years but i'll definitely check it out thanks.

in regards to the withdrawal fees, the 7-11 and post ATMs will have them right? this is my main concern in regards to banking.
 
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Ship a TV to Japan in 2016? Why? I suppose it's some monster mother, too.

What about Leopalace seems inadequate? They furnish practically everything and set up your Internet, something you may have problems doing in Japanese. If you think it's just a small room size, get over it...fast!
 
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You might want to contact your school and see what bank they use--for tuition payments. E.g., we've used two different nat'l universities and they each had slightly different bank preferences. One allowed me to link the deduction to my local/regional bank, while the other wanted a specific account at UFJ.

Apartments may be similar--you can make a monthly transfer, or some places would like you to have an account at their same bank.

If you're staying for two years, while you may try leo palace for a couple weeks, I'd only use them as long as you had to--get an apartment asap.

Your school, again, very probably has a co-op for helping students get apartments. They interface with local agents, and usually have tons of listings of student-suitable units on hand. Or, you can try going direct to agents.

Be very careful shipping leather items. Most used clothing will come thru just fine, but leather shoes will set off alarm bells at customs. Runners with a touch of leather (or faux leather) will be fine, but something like dress shoes or leather hiking boots should come with you in your checked luggage, and should not be mailed in.
 
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ok thanks ill ask about the bank they use

and yeah, thats the impression i got from people who used leopalace, I think I will try to find an apartment first, but if its too much of a hassle ill get the chintai contract, which allows up to 2 years where you can cancel after 4 months.

I dont think my leather items will set off customs, because they were shipped internationally to me with no issue, but i'll make note and use individual packages for them, thanks.
 

Mike Cash

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I suppose I'm way out of date on this stuff, but would the television be compatible?
 
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So, are you willing to find an apartment (with no Japanese) and move into a place that has nothing in it (no furniture, no appliances, no curtains, no bedding, no kitchen utensils, etc.)? Really? I can't imagine someone shipping all of that stuff. At least Leopalace gives you the stuff and helps you to avoid searching for so much that you're bound to need.
 

mdchachi

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Do you have any previous experience with Japan?
My two cents:
  • Yahoo BB is a big provider but I don't have any recent info. You can sort that stuff out later. I think you will want a phone for sure. It will make your life so much easier from navigating, to skyping, to whatever you do on a smartphone now. Plus you can send texts and make calls when needed too. I assume you can use it as a hotspot too. (There are not many free wifi access points in Japan like there is in the U.S.)
  • Don't ship a bunch of stuff (unless somebody else is paying for it). Just whatever you can fit in your air allowance should be plenty. There is a big market for used stuff as people like yourself often come and go so you can pick up lights, furnishings easily (and inexpensively) later. Don't bring a TV. Note if they are giving you some shipping allowance then feel free to use it, but ship stuff with the idea that you won't be taking it back home with you in two years. (Leave the piano at home. haha.)
  • Yes there are agencies that can help you out with all this stuff. I've never heard of anybody paying out of pocket for one though. Typically they are used by companies for their expats.
  • Get an international license at AAA; it will cover you during the first part of your stay. Don't worry about the license translation, you can get that later if needed. However I think you'll get used to the no-need-for-a-car life.
 
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im in the process of registering for a 2 year course in japanese, at Kansai Gaidai courtesy of the post 9/11 GI bill, so all expenses will be covered.

my main concerns will be finding a good apartment, translating my license for the IDP, and setting up banking overseas.

So does anyone recommend any good apartments near Hirakata, Osaka ?

I have bank of america and just got the Travel Rewards card which allows credit purchases with no fees, but from what I read most stores accept cash only. Is it beneficial to just transfer to citibank instead? My main concern will be withdrawal fees of 5 dollars everytime.

Also, I have some questions regarding phone/ internet service. What are the best internet service providers in that region? Anyone have experience with this?
I don't really need a phone, just internet.

Also the concern about shipping a lot of clothes and luggage overseas, is it best to ship everyone ahead of time? or just take what you can with you on the flight?


also are there agencies or something that can assist with transitions like this to make everything easier?

and if anyone has any useful info that i might not think about , i'd be glad to hear any, it will help me greatly!
Friend,

You have come just to the right place. I haven't studied at Kansai Gaidai, but I have stayed in Hirakata for a month. I had a month before studying in Tokyo, and somehow stayed in Hirakata to explore the Kansai area.

I can highly recommend English speaking hostel in Osaka - Share house/Guest house Osaka English House. You get your own room and share shower/kitchen/toilet with others. The great thing about it is that it is a 50/50 mix of foreigners (probably kansai gaidai students) and Japanese students (also going to kansai gaidai). You'll have ample opportunity to practise your Japanese, and since Kansai Gaidai is focused on foreign languages, the Japanese students are very open to get to know you. Friends guarranteed.

Hirakata is not the biggest of cities, but it has everything you need, and it has a connection to both Kyoto and Osaka (Keihan line). Osaka English house is only 10-15 minutes on foot from the station. To the university you'll need a bike.
 
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yes im tired and should have googled it, but even after googling, there are a lot of agencies with 1 star reviews talking about how unprofessional they are, so i meant more like if you knew any of them first hand or ones that were well regarded

thanks for the feedback cocoichi any information is very helpful
 
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yes im tired and should have googled it, but even after googling, there are a lot of agencies with 1 star reviews talking about how unprofessional they are, so i meant more like if you knew any of them first hand or ones that were well regarded

thanks for the feedback cocoichi any information is very helpful
Sure, what other information about Hirakata do you want?

Btw, Kansai Gaidai also has furnished dormitory housing. Could be something of interest to you.
 
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I've never heard of anyone bringing their own TV to Japan (the land of cheap electronics).
Google-sensei was quite helpful.

American TV Sets in Japan - japan-guide.com forum

For clothes, if you are coming in the summer, bring all your summer clothes with you on the plane, and ship your winter clothes by sea mail.

For banking, why not just set up an automatic transfer with BofA, so that when/if you use your credit card in Japan, the monthly bill will be automatically debited from your account in the US. For everyday deposits, you should get a Japanese bank account, and then you can use it and use the associated ATMs with no fees.

Internet provider depends on where you live, but I think Hikari Flets (light fiber) has close to nationwide coverage. And maybe also Softbank BB, but I'm not sure. (Oh, and Yahoo BB, as mentioned above).

The Japan Automobile Federation will help you get the International Permit once you are here. I think they do the translation of your license on the spot.
JAF|For foreign nationals who wish to switch their foreign driver’s license to a Japanese license

I'm sure details on any of these topics can be found on this site and others if you search for them.
 
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mdchachi

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The Japan Automobile Federation will help you get the International Permit once you are here.
No, for the International Permit for your American license, you'll need to do that in America before you come. If and when you're ready to get a Japanese license, use that JAF link.
 
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I'm not sure why Leopalace wouldn't work, if you expect big apartments here, you are in for a surprise.
Of course these are small, with loft space to sleep. but most studio type places in Japan are about 20 square meters. You get used to it, I lived in a Leopalace for a year and a 1K at 25 sq meters for another year.

On the plus side-
There are quite a number close to the university. Also, it would keep you from purchasing an air conditioner, refrigerator, laundry machine, tv, stove, and microwave. Also you don't need to set up electricity, water/sewer, internet, and gas. Many of their places are quite modern. I see some by the university built as recent as 2011.
They also have ways to help with the guarantor, which you will need for any apartment.

Either way good luck.
J
 

Mike Cash

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Not to derail things, but could I ask why you have chosen to spend a couple of years learning Japanese and what you plan to do with the skills you gain? Have you studied Japanese before? Have you lived in Japan or visited before?
 
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Not to derail things, but could I ask why you have chosen to spend a couple of years learning Japanese and what you plan to do with the skills you gain? Have you studied Japanese before? Have you lived in Japan or visited before?
@galligbt You should definitely go for it on this! Take advantage of whatever GI Bill funds you can, and then work a little on the side. By the time two years is up (an eternity) you will have found something.

Two years is like a gift from god...!

Once upon a time I had about a year of GI bennies left and thought I had arranged a year in Bangkok at Mahidol, but at the last minute (after I had gotten the visa), they sent a letter saying there weren't enough students, so they would not be running the program. Oops!

I went anyway, taught for a while (on that study visa, whatever it was), but then returned to grad school.

Had that program worked out, I might not be posting this here right now.

You've found something very special. Go for it!

Way back when, I could not have answered the above Qs--why would I study Thai, what would I do with those skills, (tho I had been there before). (This was '79 for those interested)

Those questions are irrelevant. Who cares? (except the gruff, grandfatherly guy) You've been given a gift--go do it, enjoy it, make something of it if you want. Two friggin' years in Osaka? That'll be a blast, and I'm sure it'll be fantastic!
 
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Mike Cash

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Those questions are irrelevant. Who cares? (except the gruff, grandfatherly guy)
I understand you have a strong personal dislike for me, but your eagerness to display it by jumping on things I say or ask and completely twist them to your purposes is tiresome and pathetic. Only you could look at the questions I asked and try to turn them into my trying to talk him out of coming. Grow up a little, would you?
 

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in regards to the withdrawal fees, the 7-11 and post ATMs will have them right? this is my main concern in regards to banking.
I don't think anyone answered this question. I'd also recommend Shinsei bank, you can open an account once you have a residence card. You can then withdraw your money from 7-11 ATMs free of charge (most Japanese banks charge at some times of the day and the weekend). They are also good with providing statements etc in English and having English speakers on their helpline.
 
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mike cash you havent been helpful at all in this thread.
please dont reply if you have no intention to provide useful information or feedback.
I don't have to explain myself to you.

also i don't have to sit here and debate whether or not leopalace is worth it. to me, its not, and thats the only thing that matters.


thanks for the feedback lothor , i will look into this bank, sorry but im getting annoyed at the people derailing my thread and having personal arguments that don't belong here.
 
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