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Visa publishes expats guide to living in Japan

36 Comments

Visa has created a new handbook -- "The Expat’s Guide to Japan" -- prepared especially for foreigners living and working in Japan. The free guide provides a wealth of useful information for newcomers to Japan.

From information on where to find accommodation, grocery shops and public transport to the local card acceptance and bill payment environment, the guide covers all the essentials of modern day living in Japan. The guide also includes tips on recommended shopping outlets, where to eat, local cultural pursuits and sightseeing. In addition there are details on international schools and hospitals where expatriates and their families can consult with English speaking health-care professionals.

James J Allhusen, Visa’s general manager for Japan, said, “Beginning in September 2004, we launched the ‘Visit Japan with Visa’ program, which offered a broad selection of information, along with introductions to various special benefits for people visiting Japan. From a payments point of view, we are actively engaged in sharing information that gives visitors peace of mind with the knowledge that they can access a convenient and secure international payment infrastructure while in Japan.”

In Tokyo, "The Expat’s Guide to Japan" is available from Minato City Office (formerly the Minato Ward Office), the Daiei supermarket in Himonya, National Azabu supermarket in Minami-Azabu, the NISSIN World Delicatessen in Higashi-Azabu, and the Pororoca supermarket in Shirokanedai. In Yokohama, the guide can be obtained at Union Motomachi in the Motomachi area.

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36 Comments
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Sounds like a great guide, great looking out for those interested in living there.

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first they may want to explain to visitors how to use VISA and Cirrus cards to make a withdrawal.Every time someone comes here it is the same problem..the Post Office ATMs can do it,yet the P.O. workers do not know HOW it is done 99% of the time.Eventually Family Mart ATMs are the easiest option.

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In Tokyo, “The Expat’s Guide to Japan” is available from Minato City Office (formerly the Minato Ward Office), the Daiei supermarket in Himonya, National Azabu supermarket in Minami-Azabu, the NISSIN World Delicatessen in Higashi-Azabu, and the Pororoca supermarket in Shirokanedai. In Yokohama, the guide can be obtained at Union Motomachi in the Motomachi area.

What about people living the high life in Saitama?

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You can download a PDF of the guide here: http://www.visa-e-mailclub.com/visitjapan/expats_guide/index.html

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"What about people living the high life in Saitama?".

Well Jimbob, Johnboy, Billyjoe, for those living in Saitama ... I think they come from an entirely different social strata being forced to integrate, and have an entirely different view of the Japanese world as opposed to those living Mini-Azabu, Higashi-Azabu and Shirokanedai. People who live in those 3 areas need a little extra "help" in life.

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What a waste of money.

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You are right gogogo...I've never been to a country where most/all of the guide books I read beforehand were so useless.

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what does the chapter on roppongi say, avoid at all costs if you want your marriage to survive the two year stint in Japan?

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Visa?? Best thing you can do with you Visa in Japan is jimmy open a door lock. I hope it says "learn to carry large amounts of cash, because your Visa will be useless."

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I've used Visa for yonks, never had any problems getting it accepted - except once in Manchester, when the sales assistant had to check that my Japanese card was real.

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When having my nails manicured the other day while sipping on some Dom, I got out this little guidebook and thought how wonderful it was. All the coloured pictures make shopping a breeze, even if you don't speak the language after 25+ years in country. Then again, actually using it would mean having to mingle with the riff raff? What do the rest of you prols think? (lol).

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cleo, I think you're missing two points:

I think it's foreign Visa cards that are being discussed. Most bank ATMs in Japan will say 'only Japanese-issued cards accepted.' So much for Visa being a world-wide brand. A Japanese Visa card will work in just about any Visa-aware ATM in the world, but try using a foreign Visa in Japan and in you're in trouble. This situation has got a lot better recently however with 7-Bank opening up foreign Visa (and Citibank) compatible ATMs.

Establishments which accept any credit/debit cards (Japanese or not) are still extremely thin on the ground, although this also is getting better. In London it's almost got to the stage where you don't need cash at all. This has already happened in Finland; I've made a dozen or so business trips there and literally have never handled Finnish cash, even in bars.
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The magnetic strip on the back of Western cards is broader than Japanese ones. Japanese bank cash dispensers simply reject them. Not sure about chips, though.

Things are gradually getting better, but there's a long way to go. I remember meeting two women in Hiroshima who were crying with frustration becuase they couldn't get cash out with their cards, and there was no information to help them in any way. (Pointed them towards the Post Office as it was still, luckily, within working hours.)

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wonder if it includes a chapter on how to handle being rejected when applying for a local japanese card simply because you are a foreigner.

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taiko666 -

My point was that it works both ways; my Japanese Visa was no more welcome in the UK than people say furrin Visa cards are in Japan. When I was in Manchester, my Japanese Visa was furrin and suspect.

USB -

I've been stopped in stores by shop assistants wanting me to sign up for a local card. Blonde hair and blue eyes appeared to be no kind of deterrent.

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Never been refused a card here, VISA or MASTER. Cleo: In LEWIS'S my card was zipped with no problem WSE. With a photo on the back and SUMITOMO written on it the staff loved it for it's, "Cool, never seen one of these before". They did, as was to be expected and prudent, check my signature against the card's. You NEVER see that in Japan. Wonder if that's in the handbook? Use your mate's card, staff never check it.

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Visa publishes expats guide to living in Japan... ...should read: Visa publishes expats guide to living in Japan with a Visa card.

don't bother going against the grain just to line the visa companies coffers; appreciate the fact that its safer in Japan and that those kind of safety motives/advertising for not using cash are not so prevalent in the cash society of Japan. In addition you will join a society which doesn't borrow money so easily and get into personal debt so easily as you can see more easily the money you have(or not) and are spending.

... learn/remember when going abroad outside Japan, don't carry cash and zip up you bags and keep them close to you, if you look japanese you will be targeted as an easy pick/naive for pick pockets.

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i've only very rarely had trouble using my foreign visa while i was in mainland japan or in okinawa. i did have a gas station attendant tell me my card wouldn't work at the gas station because it wasn't issued in japan. then i asked him to try it, then I told him to try it and magically, it worked.

888naff, what are you talking about with cash society of japan and not borrowing money and getting into personal debt? with the amount of very new cars on the road and the very low popularity of buying a used car, i'd say that you are just getting the impression that people aren't getting into personal debt. i live next to one of those eifuru (sp?) easy loan places where all you need is a driver's license to get a substantial loan that is instantly approved at a stupid percentage rate, and that place gets an insane amount of business.

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cleo: I disagree. Your Japanese visa works in foreign ATMs. On the whole, foreign Visas don't work in Japanese ATMs (although the situation is improving.) I'd hazard a guess that it's easier to withdraw money from a British Visa card in Baghdad than it is it Tokyo.

I've only used my Visa a few times in Japanese shops. On each occasion I've had to wait about 20 minutes while the shop assistants rang through to their head office for advice, then to Visa to check my card.

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taiko666 -

Can't say I've ever tried to use my Visa to get cash, in any country - so I'll take your word for it. I have no intention of going to Baghdad to test your theory.

In my experience, as a credit card, for ordinary shopping, it works just as well (or badly) in both Japan and the UK.

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I've used my Visa in Japan many many times. From small shops, department stores, fast food, hotels, whatever. No problems. In Europe the merchants are less and less accepting of the mag strip credit cards. I've had way more problems in Germany and France than I ever had in Japan.

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I guess the guide doesn't recommend places where they don't accept Visa cards.

Some of the best places I've been to for a ramen or yakitori are small places where my local cousins took me to. These places only takle cash and not Visa.... I guess the guide won't recommend those places huh?

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OTARU you made my day,,i jump from my seat ,ha.ha.ha...

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Interesting considering I know many gaijin who have been refused credit cards - including visa.

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i think many stablishment want fresh cash to deal with the debts of the days,,and to decrease the negative cash flow in the income of the stablishment..

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I've had 3 Japanese credt cards - AEON seems pretty foreigner-friendly; and MUFG practically begged me to take their card.

I also have 2 foreign (non-Japanese?) credt cards, and have used them both for shopping and for cash withdrawals - never had a problems except when the other side decides I've had enough money...

The country's become so much more cc-friendly over the past few years it's untrue - the post office and especially the convenience store all-night ATMs are a real blessing.

I imagine if people have trouble using their cards here it's because a) most people don't know where to withdraw cash from out of hours on their cc - I didn't know about the post office doing it until a couple of years ago; a) the shop staff Yoof simply don't know anything about credt cards - they assume that itf it's not a Japanese card it won't get accepted. Just the other day I tried using my MUFG card, knowing that the payment probably hadn't cleared yet but I like to stay optimistic. I warned the staff that it may not clear but when it was refused she said: "Oh, it's because it's a VISA that you can't use it here..." Bless.

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Never had a problem with using Visa or MC in Japan for purchases, either when I lived there or as a tourist. The only problem I saw was less penetration of places which accepted any credit card, Japanese or other.

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I tried to get a credit card at my unnamed japanese bankwhere I have done banking for 3 years- the staff were very helpful and the woman spoke perfect English. She sat down and helped me fill out all of the paperwork (there was a lot). After about 30 minutes of filling out all of the forms, signing and stamping- she asked me for ID. I gave her my alien card but she said that they couldn't use that. "Do you have a passport," she asked? I said yes and handed her my passport. She looked at my passport and said,"oh, we can't accept an American passport, do you have a Japanese passport?" Although I was annoyed at wasting time, all you can do is laugh Similar situation with a company offering an "American Express" card. Appearantly I can't get and American Express in Japan because I am an American. I now do everything through Citibank

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Can't say I've ever tried to use my Visa to get cash, in any country - so I'll take your word for it. I have no intention of going to Baghdad to test your theory.

Slogan...

Visa: We put the "green" in the Green Zone.

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I've used Visa for yonks

I'll remember that if I'm ever in the market for yonks, Cleo.

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The easiest places to have your credit card accepted in Sapporo are illegal places like soaps and massage parlors, or so it seems from the signs on the doors. I'm not speaking from experience.

True story: I almost had the cops called on me at a major department store for passing a legitimate commemorative 500-yen Japanese coin. (No my colon was not sore, but thank you for asking.) Credit cards are not easy to use in Sapporo, and even coins will draw suspicion.

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Cleo:

The gift shops at Baghdad Int'l Airport take Visa and MC.

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I even had trouble cashing a traveler's check at the same bank I bought it -- the bank at which I have my main Japanese account.

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lol

Surely you wouldn't be in the market for yonks, Nessie - you'd be snapped up straight away!

:-)

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The reason more establishments don't accept credit cards in Japan is twofold: One, the percentage paid to the credit card companies in high. In a country with an interest rate that's effectively zero, the convience for businesses who don't want to deal with the cost of handling, transporting, and borrowing cash isn't there. If stores offer to accept credit cards, it's often as a convience for the customer. Stores that have point cards will usually not offer the full point value for customers who use credit cards, unless it's that store's card. The other reason is largely cultural. Most Japanese people I know use the card as a charge care, i.e. the card balance is paid off every month. I know people with the airline mile cards. One would think they would use their card every chance they got in order to earn the miles....but they don't. I'm guessing that certain purchases, like convenience stores and highway tolls, which can be processed quickly by card, are still seen as a nuisance by the customer. Japan's smaller retailers managed to get the online purchases horror stories covered by the news media, and therefore into the minds of the average Japanese person.

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Just got back from Japan. Big retailers and restaurants tend to take CC's well, I've used my CC about 50 times over 7 years and only had it rejected about 5 times, generally at small shops. Call your CC before you go, or else after a couple hundred dollars they might put a stop on the card until you call to verify you're in Japan.

In the last 7 years CC acceptance has dramatically risen. I always pay cash for small things, so it's never an issue because any place with big ticket items tends to take CCs.

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