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Things you should know before you move to Japan
What would you prepare before you move to Japan?
Your Japanese language skills? A new job in Japan? A place to live?
Undoubtedly, these are essential preparations before relocating.
Despite this, there are crucial details often overlooked until one steps foot in Japan.
There are 3 things you should know before you move to Japan.
Your "Japanese" Name - Katakana Version Name
When you move to a new country, the only thing you are sure about is your identity. However, if that new country is Japan, even your name might become a source of confusion.
In Japan, when you enter into any kind of contract, your name requires a Japanese-Katakana rendering. Unlike contracts in alphabet-based countries, which typically have a single box for the name, Japanese contracts have two boxes: one for the official name and another one for how to read it.
The official name can be in Kanji or in alphabet letters. For individuals from Kanji-based countries like Japan and China, the official name is generally in Kanji. However, depending on the contract, there might be cases where you need to write it in Katakana as well. On the other hand, for those from non-Kanji-based countries, the official name is typically in the alphabet.
The real challenge arises in the second box, where you must write how to pronounce the official name—in Katakana.
Let me share a story about a friend who faced this naming conundrum.
When my friend moved to Japan, his name posed pronunciation challenges for the locals.
Initially, he couldn’t speak Japanese, but somehow he managed to make contracts for housing, a bank account, a credit card, and more.
However, as he acclimated to life in Japan, he discovered a peculiar issue—his name differed across various contracts. Japanese people, even though they were willing to help, weren’t always fluent in English. Consequently, the pronunciation of his name varied depending on the officer handling the paperwork. The inconsistency became not only an annoyance but also a practical problem, requiring corrections in multiple contracts.
The lesson from his experience is clear: Prepare a katakana name in advance
Have you ever heard Inkan or Hanko?
It is a stamp of your name and is used along with a handwritten signature.
Used in tandem with a handwritten signature, Inkan holds significant weight on legal documents, contracts, and agreements, providing a formal and binding authentication. The absence of Inkan can present hurdles, restricting one from opening a bank account or finalizing a lease agreement for an apartment.
Before you move to Japan, you should check where you can order Inkan, or order online in advance.
Moving Fee (Deposit and thank you fee)
I’d like to advise you that the moving fees in Japan can be relatively high. If you aim to secure a quality apartment, be prepared to pay not only the monthly rent but also additional fees.
Shiki-kin (敷金): This is the deposit fee, typically equivalent to one month’s rent.
Rei-kin (礼金): Often referred to as the ‘thank you fee’ to the owner, this is another cost that usually amounts to one month’s rent.
Commission Fee: This fee, which is generally up to 1.5 times the monthly rent, is also applicable.
Key Change Fee: Additionally, there may be a key change fee ranging from ¥10,000 to ¥20,000.
In addition to these above fees, Japanese apartments are usually not furnished and no home appliances are included, so please make sure you need to buy them after you moved in.
Make sure to know about these costs when planning your move to Japan so that you won’t be surprised and can smoothly adjust to your new home.