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Welcome to another edition of the X-Pat Files!  Thanks to everyone who came out and supported the Nagoya Walkathon this year, it was a tremendous success and we are looking forward to it again next year. 

Tanabata (七夕 meaning "Evening of the seventh"), is a traditional Japanese star festival.

It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair), lovers who are separated by the Milky Way. They are only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. In present-day Japan, people generally celebrate this day by writing wishes on tanzaku (短冊), small pieces of paper, and hanging them on bamboo. The bamboo and decorations are often set afloat on a river or burned after the festival, around midnight or on the next day.
Please come and join our informal Tanabata lunch. We will have our own space at the Café so we are planning on having storytelling about Tanabata then writing wishes on tanzaku and hanging them on bamboo.

The activities will be enjoyable for both children and adults!

Date: Thursday, July 5th 2012  11:30 till 14:15
Place: Champagne Brunch (7 nminutes walk from Exit 2 at Issha Station)

For location information or to learn how to sign up for this interesting cultural opportunity please see the full article on JIS.

Meito Meet and Greet “Tanabata Lunch”

New Residency Management System for Japan
"We will no longer be “Aliens”

On July 9, 2012 the new Residency Management system comes into effect.
We have been hearing about this for some time now and there has been a lot of confusion about how it affects us and what we need to do.

These are the major changes:
1. The official end of the Alien Registration System
2. Start of the Residence Card
3. Change in the Re-entry System
4. Change in maximum length of stay

Alien Registration cards will not be issued after July 9. Newly arriving foreigners will be issued a Residence Card; however, if you currently have an Alien card, you do not need to do anything about obtaining a Residence card until:

• Your visa needs to be changed or renewed
• Your Alien card expires
• Your 16th birthday

or by 8 July 2015, if none of the above apply. During the transition your Alien card will be equivalent to the Residence Card.
One of the best features of the new system is that Re-entry Permits will not be required if you return to Japan within one year. Also, Re-entry Permits will be valid for 5 years, instead of three. However, if you do not return to Japan within one year and do not have a Re-entry Permit, you will lose your visa status (be forewarned). Also, the maximum length of stay will be extended from three years to five years.

The other major change is that we will now be registered at the city or ward office in the same manner as Japanese nationals. We will have a “Residence Record”(Jumininhyo) and will have to follow the same procedures as Japanese when moving, etc.

If you live in Nagoya you should have recently received a “provisional Resident Record”. This should be checked for errors in spelling, etc. and any discrepancies reported to the number as listed. (Everyone, not just people in Nagoya, should look for this record to check, but Nagoya residents SHOULD have received theirs by now. )

As the new system is instituted we will be learning more about it.
For now, there isn’t much that we need to do, but to be aware of the changes.

New Residency Management System for Japan

International Drivers Licenses in Japan
Lease Japan puts a lot of people behind the wheel of a new or used car every year. Recently, we have noticed an increase in the number of people who are inadvertently driving illegally in Japan with International Driver’s Permits. Many people, especially those who came to Japan before 2002, are unaware that they are driving on an invalid IDP, and are in danger of suffering fines, jail time, or even deportation if they are discovered, usually during a routine traffic stop.

It is possible to drive legally in Japan for up to one year with one of the following:
  • An International Driving Permit (IDP) issued by a signatory country of 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (there are 95 countries & 2 regions who have signed this (as of March 5, 2011); notable exceptions include Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia, and Vietnam) (Japan Traffic Act Article 107 Provision 2)
  • A driver’s license from Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, or Taiwan and a Japanese translation, issued by JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) or a foreign embassy / consulate office in Japan (Japan Traffic Act Article 39 Provision 4 & 5).
Before 2002, an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) could be renewed repeatedly and used, with a valid overseas license, instead of formally applying for a Japanese driver’s license. But, after the law changed, the use of an IDP was limited to (Japan Traffic Act Article Number 107.2)
  • 1 year maximum from first arrival in Japan
  • Drivers returning to Japan after being out of the country for at least 3 months
After your IDP expires, you must convert your foreign license to a Japanese license.
You may not renew it unless you leave the country again for at least 3 months.

Though this law changed nearly 10 years ago, the information has still not completely filtered out to the foreign communities of Japan, and many people are risking penalties of up to 1 year imprisonment, and in extreme cases may also result in loss of employment or deportation every time they get behind the wheel.

The law seems cut and dry on paper, but the advice provided can often be confusing.

The United Kingdom and New Zealand Embassies in Tokyo both recommend that their citizens living in Japan abide by the rules as written and utilize an IDP in for no more than their first 365 days in Japan.  The US and Australian Embassies advise their citizens to us an IDP in Japan for no longer than 90 days if on a tourist visa, and not at all if you are residing in Japan.  The differing advice is related to comments by Police officials in Japan that they “prefer” an IDP be used only by visitors to Japan, rather than residents. While the rule is written clearly, it is interpreted differently throughout Japan, and drivers using an IDP run a risk that they will be swept up in the confusion.

At Lease Japan, we are concerned about the confusion surrounding the use of an IDP by residents of Japan, and recommend the safest option of converting your foreign driver’s license to a Japanese license immediately.

While the law gives you a grace period of one year, in practice you could be cited anyway. When you consider that a conviction for driving without a license will void your insurance coverage as well, driving on an IDP as a resident is simply too much risk for a reasonable person to take.

Residents should ensure that they are in full and obvious compliance with Japanese Law on the subject to protect themselves from civil and criminal liability.

For information about converting your foreign driver’s license to a Japanese driver’s license please see an informative website that will make the process simpler for you.  For more detais, see the full article on JIS.
International Drivers Licenses in Japan

10 things that you should know before eating out in Japan
1. Restaurants often do not have a vegetarian menu nor do they understand the concept of “vegetarianism”
2. Rather than pour your own drink it is customary to have someone poor your drink
3. Doggy bags are not common due to health laws
4. The hot towel/ wet tissue is for before you eat, and is for your hands (not face and neck)
5. There is usually a seating charge for being in an “Izakaya”, and you get a small dish for this.
6. It is not necessary to tip.
7. If there is a queue, you usually need to sign yourself up on the board
8. You can’t bring your own alcohol in to the restaurant
9. It is custom to wait until everyone has a drink and toast before starting
10. Seating position is important when eating out formally or for business purposes

Nagoya City Science Museum
The Nagoya City Science Museum (NCSM) is a fairly recent addition to the list of things to do in Nagoya. The website highlights many interesting points about the museum, starting with the distinctive appearance of the spherical shape of the world's biggest planetarium, called Brother Earth. The diameter of the sphere is 35 meters, and a highly realistic starry sky is shown on the planetarium's screen within.  There are a ton of things to see and do there, and better yet its kind of cheap!  800 yen adults, 400 Student, Junior High School and below are free!
  • Deep Freezing Lab where you can see a complete aurora in the exhibition room at -30C degrees! You can also observe a variety of real ice and experiments involved with it, and find out what a polar region is like. a -30 degree ºC room where visitors can see man-made auroras
  • Tornado Lab where you can observe a 9 meter-high man-made twister.
  • Water Lab where you can learn about the properties of water through experiments conducted at each stage of water’s cycles; clouds, rainfall, rivers, and oceans.
  • Electric Discharge Lab where bolts of electricity 4 meters long are discharged with a roaring crack from two towering Tesla coils.
There are new programs every month at the planetarium, as well as public projects tailored to public school students.
  • General Projections - Easy explanations about comprehensive astronomical topics are presented every month. For example, how to observe stars at night.
  • Night-Time Projections - For adult visitors. These shows feature a special laser show in addition to usual show content. Reservations required, Japanese language only, monthly on Saturday at 18:30
  • Kids Hour – A playful planetarium for kids full of fun activities teaching how to find certain stars at night, stories of constellations, or space travel. Japanese Language Only.
Another interesting point about the science center is the environmentally friendly facilities themselves.
Here are a few of the most notable eco-friendly aspects of the new building. /LH>
  • Photovoltaic Power Generator - A photovoltaic power generation panel inserted between two panels of glass is set into the glass walls of a staircase.
  • Wind Power Station - Two windmills of straight wing/vertical shaft type are installed on the northeast wall of the 4th and 5th floors of the building.
  • Green Wall - A green wall unit measuring about 1,500 square meters has been installed on the south side of the building to reduce the air conditioning load by reducing the surface temperature of the outside wall and thus reducing the effects of the heat island phenomenon.
  • Cool heat Tunnel - To reduce the burden of air conditioning on the environment, outside air is taken underground where it is cooled in summer and heated in winter through geothermal utilization before being sent to the air conditioner.
  • Rainwater storage Tank - An underground storage tank to store rainwater collected on the roof that can be used for toilets and for watering the green wall.

Why not take the family out for a day of learning and fun? Depending on the season, the building will be either quite warm or quite cool; what better excuse to go anywhere in Nagoya in Summer than “they have great air-conditioning!”

A New Way to View the Game!
I had the good luck of getting invited to a Yomiuri Giants v Chunichi Dragons game a couple of weeks ago at the Tokyo Dome. As an Australian my understanding of baseball is limited to say the least, other than yelling “swing batter batter” I wasn’t too sure what I was expected to do.

Australia has fairly strict controls on the service and consumption of alcohol at sporting events, and it should be noted that these controls are well deserved; with pitch invasions (or “rushing the field” as it is called in the US) by well lubricated and over-zealous fans becoming a national sport during the 90’s.

Japan on the other hand has no such restriction, and I soon figured out I was expected to drink a fair quantity of alcohol and for the most part ignore the play on the field; chatting with my companions was the order of the day. This pretty much describes a day at a cricket game in Australia, with the attention of the patrons being focused more on themselves than the game (who’s got the beach balls?).

My attention quickly went to the service attendants walking around with kegs on their backs. Could this be what heaven looks like?! I beckoned the nearest one over, but after the first sip I realized to my dismay that it was Suntory Premium (not one of my favorites).

After seeing my reaction one of my companions laughed and pointed out you could get any beer you wanted as each attendant carried a different brew. I found the Asahi Dry girl and became fast friends until the bottom of the seventh, when alcohol service stops at games in Japan.

Japanese fans play a game called “Seat Chess,” where they move around the arena trying to improve their position. Three different groups of people occupied the chairs in front of us throughout the game, and they were very nonchalant about moving when the patrons with their official tickets showed back up.

I thought my colleagues were baseball aficionados, but this image was quickly shattered as my questions about the rules of the game were met with blank stares and a shuffling of play guides. It should be pointed out that what Australians lack in knowledge is more than made up for in both lung capacity and good cheer. I surprised my Japanese hosts by loudly supporting both teams over the ebb and flow of the game. I consider myself more “A Fan of Good Play,” rather than a fan of any one team.

Overall I had a blast and barring ostracism stemming from any social faux pas that I may have unknowingly committed this time I am ready and eager to experience the next event; Sumo anyone??

Written By: Chris O'Halloran

Charity Fuji Climb 2012

Come Join Us!

Would you like to experience a once in a life-time adventure while helping those less fortunate receive a much needed education? Then join us for our annual Mt. Fuji Charity Climb! The H&R Group is teaming up with HOPE International Development Agency Japan (HOPE-JP) again this year to organize the climb of your life!
The money raised will be donated to HOPE-JP and will go to support indigenous students on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines to obtain a quality education - one that would otherwise be out of reach! Join us to challenge yourself, join us to effect change for Filipino youth, but join us today because the number is limited and you don't want to miss this great chance to climb for a cause! To register for the Charity Climb, click here and complete the form.
Date: July 6 – July 7
Application deadline: June 25
Participation fee *includes insurance
H&R Group Clients:
  • Individual / 3,000 yen
  • Family (up to 5) / 8,000 yen
  • Individual / 5,000 yen 
  • Family (up to 5) / 10,000 yen
Capacity: 40 (minimum of 20 participants required)
T-shirt: sell for 1,800 yen, while supplies last
Even if you can't join us on the Mt. Fuji Charity Climb, you can still participate by pledging your support of one of the climbers. Just click here to select who you want to support for the Fuji Climb and enter your pledge amount. It's super easy!  If you CAN join the climb however, and I recommend you do, please send us an email to
Fish Markets in Japan
Japan is obviously famous for its obsession with sushi, a national dish that is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Whether you venture to kaiten-sushi (回転寿司), the convey belt system which is often as cheap as 105yen for two pieces, or the real deal of sushi master-chefs with decades of experience, carving up fish worth thousands of dollars, chances are...

Click the photo above to read the full article on Axiom Magazine's website.
Will I have trouble re-entering Japan if I lose my gaijin card?

Rosie lost her alien registration card while abroad.

"How do I re-enter Japan if I lost my alien card in the Philippines, and are there any additional requirements?" she asks...

Click on the pictures above to view the Japantimes Article.

That's it for this months X-Pat files. We are always looking for events, news, and information from the community to include here. If you have anything you wish to include in next months newsletter email us at, look us up online at the website, or find us on  Facebook! Follow this link to subscribe to this newsletter, or visit us online at Japan Info Swap if you are interested in finding back issues of the X-Pat Files, keeping up with news and events in real time on our blog, posting a classified ad, asking a question on our forum, or downloading a copy of our free  eBook; Habitat Japan. Written and edited by Sue Conolly, Habitat Japan will add value to your time here and offer provocative insights to life as an expatriate in Japan.

A disclaimer - While we do try to check submissions, we can`t take responsibility for the accuracy of donated information. Nor do we take responsibility if your experience of places and services you find through this newsletter are not as rewarding as they were for the person who originally sent in the information. Obviously everyone's experience is different.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who submitted their news, events, and information to the X-Pat Files this month. This is your community's newsletter, and we could not keep it running without you! Thank you and have a great month!
Edited by Ray Proper

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