From England to Japan

On the 29th of January I left my hometown of Huddersfield, England to fly to Japan. Below is information on my move to Japan with the Working Holiday Visa (How to get a Japan Working Holiday Visa) I obtained in October of 2012.

On the morning of the 29th of January I made my way to Manchester Airport, which is where I first encountered a slight problem. During the check-in process the check-in staff member for Swiss Airlines questioned me to why I was traveling to Japan without a return flight, and also how long I was going to Japan for. The Visa in my passport clearly stated how long I was able to stay in Japan for (one year), and I even explained to him that I couldn’t book a return flight that far in advance. I tried everywhere before to book a flight to come back in 2014, but no where I looked gave me the option.

After checking with his supervisor, he gave me my boarding pass and explained that he had to check as airlines can get charged up to £250,000 if the passenger tries to enter Japan without a return flight.

I was happy to receive my boarding pass, as I loved flying with Swiss Airlines on my first trip to Japan (17 Nights in Japan). I made my way to Zurich and then caught my connection flight to Narita, Tokyo.

Goukaseishi, Flights to Japan

The flight went really well, although I was really nervous about what would happen on landing in Japan.

Landing in Japan

After an 11 hour flight from Zurich, Switzerland I landed totally nervous, but I made my way to the immigration area where I gave my passport over.

The process was pretty easy, as he read my information and then gave me a form to check and sign. They then of course do the usual index finger scan and picture.

As the process of getting your foreigner/alien (gaijin) card has changed, as from July 2012 I think you just get given a card like this below..which is pretty much like your passport.

Goukaseishi, Japan Foreigner Card

I was then given some information stating that I needed to register at my local registry office (the town/city hall).

After this I was let through immigration, and I felt so relieved to have finally made it into Japan after worrying for most of the flight from Zurich.

From Narita I was picked up by my gf’s family and brought back to Odawara-shi, where I currently live.

Registering in Japan

Goukaseishi, Flights to Japan

The following day I went down to Odawara city hall register. When I arrived I went to the desk where I gave my passport and foreigner card + explained what I wanted to do, with the help of my gf. They explained that I needed to have health insurance, and to pay some sort of tax.

I didn’t get health insurance before I left, as nothing online really helped me find out about it, so I chose to just have travel insurance.

I was given a card for the health insurance to carry around with me, but I will have to pay some amount towards health insurance from next week.

To fill in forms you may need to have an interpreter if you live in a city outside of a big city like Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya etc. If you go to a big city, they will probably have someone that speaks English?!?

Once you have registered, you can sign up for a bank account or get a monthly contract mobile etc.

Getting a bank account

As a foreigner, I wanted to find a bank to transfer money from the UK to Japan. I had heard about Shinsei bank, so I visited the one in Yokohama. The nearest Shinsei bank to me is acutally in Fujisawa, but I was visited Yokohama that day, so this is why I chose this bank.

When applying I had to show my foreigner/gaijin card and then I had to wait to fill in some forms. The staff were helpful and I could choose my card and get it that very day. They explained to me that if I wanted to speak more English, or if I needed help then it would be best to call the support lines or visit the Roppongi Shensei branch.

My next big step will be getting a mobile, but I hope this will be useful to someone else.

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About the Author: Keith Morrell

はじめましてキースです。よろしくおねがいします。 Hello I'm Keith. I'm 25, a Graphic and Web designer from England. I love design, photography, Japanese culture and much more. I have travelled to Japan twice and I currently live in Huddersfield, England. I use this blog to try show the World what I like about Japan, Design & Photography.