Friday, September 24, 2010

1.4 Japan - C'mon a My House

Physician's Notebooks 1 - - See Homepage
4. Japan - C'mon a My House - Update 11 Jan. 2019
The following headings in the chapters as they appear. One can access by search & find or just scroll down.
Why come to Japan?
Getting to Japan
Japanese Money
The Japanese Numbers
Getting Into the City from the Tokyo Airports
 For sightseeing I advise
How long to Stay in Japan?
Starting New Life in Japan
The sexual psychology of the young Japanese woman
Good Reading About Japan
Eating in Japan
If you wish to tour Kyoto
Creative Writing in Japan
Millennials in Japan
Medical Care; Being a Patient in a Japanese University Hospital
Telephone Numbers
Lost & Found in Japan
Employ a housekeeper,
Applying for Japanese Nationality/Passport
End Note: A Hongkong Tailor in Tokyo
Birthday and Wedding Cakes in Tokyo
A Good Luxury Hotel
Notes on expatriate life in Japan from an old expat
Banking in Japan for Expats

Why come to Japan?
Answer: It is foreigner friendly and you may find fellow friends. If you plan life or work in Japan, first come to visit. Also Japan is a nice place to live; take it from me, an expatriate for the past 30+ years.

Getting to Japan: If you are a U.S. citizen, get a passport and with it alone you may make multiple, up-to-90-day stay, for 3 years. And check . For the Tokyo/Yokohama and surrounding areas you will enter either at Narita International or Haneda International Airport, and United is the  best airline for service and price. From east coast USA, its UA Flight 9 is 13-hour, nonstop from Newark-Liberty Airport to Narita International Airport. (From West Coast USA 9+ hours) Alternative arrival airports are Kansai International located near Kyoto and Osaka, or Chitose International north in Hokkaido. Arriving non-Japanese passport-holders will be photo’d and fingerprinted each time on arrival from oversea and luggage may be checked. 

Japanese Money  comes as Yen coins in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500; and then paper bills (rare 500) 1000, 5000 and 10,000. To see what they look like, just Google Japanese Money. Now, the rate is 1 U.S. dollar to c.109 JPY (Official; but actual would be a little less Yen).

The Japanese Numbers: For 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; say or write ichi, ni, san, shi or yon, go, roku, shichi or nana, hachi, kyu, ju. When you get above 10, the system is easy to figure out once you see it. For example, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, .... is 10-1 ju-ichi, 10-2 ju-ni, 10-3 ju-san,  10-4 ju-yon,  15 ju-go, and so on. The number 100 is hyaku, 101 hyaku-ichi and so on. The 1,000 is sen, 2,000 ni sen; and so forth but 10,000 is man or ichi-man. Next comes 100,000 - ju man.  1-million is hyaku man, 10-million - ju man; then at 100-million, use oku or ichi oku and at 1-billion, ju oku.

   Getting Into the City from the Tokyo Airports  Haneda Airport is inside Tokyo city proper and one may use a taxi  or inexpensively, the get to Tokyo or Yokohama. If you are going to a big hotel, especially from the farther out Narita International Airport,Limo Bus is best. You'll see the bus desk immediately after exiting the customs check, and just tell your hotel name and you can purchase ticket (c. Yen 3000 from Narita) or you may even be able to ride a free shuttle bus to the hotel.
   From Narita International Airport the trains to Tokyo are pleasant for group conversation and sightseeing and mostly get you into central Tokyo faster than a bus. Allow me to guide from Narita International now. You step off your flight with a rolling luggage and follow the signs for arrivals. This will take you through Quarantine and to Passport Check. Arrivals are guided to form 3 separate lines - Japanese passports, foreign passports of long-term residents who have re-entry permits. Passport processing is quick. Just have your passport out with customs declaration and you will be index-fingers-printed and head and shoulders photo'd by a device on the passport-check counter. Then go down escalator, pick up checked luggage and pass custom-check for luggage and maybe body search for drugs (rare). Generally you will not be required to open luggage but it is possible. If you're over 65 or even slightly disabled, you may get a wheelchair assist which will speed you.
   You are now out of the arrival-area and you go out exit doors and will see greeters holding signs. (Note: there are 2 arrival areas on the Narita International arrival floor so if someone has come to greet you and you do not see him or her, either check the other arrival area or use cell phone to locate the greeter)  If you are going into Tokyo by train, head to the near escalator and go down 2 flights to lowest level and walk diagonally across to the Narita Express (NEX) Line to your far right. On your left you'll see the Skyliner that advertises 38 minutes to Tokyo central via the northern Ueno Station
   If you are taking a train, before buying the ticket, check both lines - Narita Express and the Skyliner  - to see when the next express is leaving for Tokyo. Sometimes there is as much as a 25-minute difference in wait for one of the line's trains to leave and you can save time by choosing the train that leaves soonest. If you decide on the Narita Express, you may see that the the ticket-selling counter has a long line, so long it may cause you to miss a soon-departing trainBut those who read here can avoid the long line  by walking to the turnstile entrance, and you will see on your right the automatic ticket machines built into the wall. If you have brought a Yen 10,000 bill with you, as I advise, just insert it, down and to your left as you stand facing the ticket machine and then on the screen press the 140 Yen (or lowest price, since the price goes up at intervals) ticket and the machine will deliver the ticket and produce your cash and coin change. This lowest price ticket is the minimum trip ticket that pays for one stop down the line but it will give you entry into the turnstile. (Insert the ticket or, if you do not understand how to, ask the clerk who stands nearby). The ticket gets notched and returned to you and you should not lose it because it is your ticket to ride. Then you continue straight ahead and down the escalator a few meters ahead and, onto the trains platform: the Narita Express  track is on your right and the many-stop Airport Limited train on your left. The Narita Express goes nonstop from Airport to Tokyo, a 60-minute ride for Yen c.3,500. The Airport Limited makes stops for a 90-minute ride to Tokyo for Yen 1280. If you are not in a rush, do the Airport Limited train. (Warning: at night the Airport Limited train may only go as far as Chiba City where it makes a long stop and you must get off and change there to the the train across the way on the same platform or you will end up back at the Airport. Always ask before you chose a many-stop Airport Limited train into Tokyo at night)
   On the Narita Express you will be requested to show ticket to the conductor who walks through checking tickets and, if you have the 140-yen ticket, he will sell you a full ticket and give you a paper receipt you must use at your destination. On the other, the Airport Limited train, no one will ask for your ticket but you must present it at your destination and pay the balance. (If you lose the ticket, no problem; the ticket-taker will trust your word and charge from your entry point)
   Again on timing into Tokyo: on the Narita Express platform, you may note that the Airport Limited is just about to leave and the next Narita Express is not leaving for 20 - 25 minutes. Then it is smart to take the earlier leaving Airport Limited  for much cheaper price and almost same time to get you into Tokyo. This is an advantage of buying a 140-yen entree ticket rather than reserving a seat on Narita Express. A point to know if you use the 140-Yen ticket on Narita Express is not to seat yourself until the Express leaves the Airport 2 Station, the next from starting station Airport-1, because all seats are supposed to be reserved although, practically, many remain empty. So you want to wait till all reserves are seated at Airport 2 Station closing doors.
   Assuming you get off at Tokyo Station, another point is to walk along the Tokyo Station platform to pillar 16 and you'll see the elevators (or if you're British, the lifts) there. Take an elevator to B-1 and you will find yourself exactly in front of the exit turnstiles and ticket-takers. You may have a question how to take the subways or the older surface transit from Tokyo Station to your final destination - a hotel or a friend's house address. The ticket-takers may be able to answer those questions in English.
   Tokyo Station is the biggest hub in Tokyo. From it you can get anywhere - by subway, surface transit or taxi. Best to have a written instruction that shows your destination on a map and, if you are carrying a cell phone, have your destination's phone number. If you get lost in Tokyo Station or out on the street, it is not a big problem - the friendly passers-by will offer help and everyone speaks enough English to assist.

For sightseeing I advise a morning that starts with boat from Hinode Peer. (Ask your hotel lobby manager how to get to Shimbashi Yurikamome Station at 9:30 AM, buy ticket to the Hinode Station and follow signs in English to the 10 AM boat) Up the Sumida River, it takes you under the many bridges ending at Asakusa, where you walk to the famous shrine area of hundreds of small shops for buying mementos. Best to approach the shrine leisurely browsing the stores but not buying or eating until you see the temple site and take your photos. Then, on your way back, have lunch in a restaurant and buy mementos chosen from those you looked at during your arrival walk. You should finish by 

n afternoon, see other area - Ginza, or the Emperor's Palace in Hibiya Park. But keep away from the old Tokyo Tower, a tourist trap. One day for guided tour is enough. You may have friends or other activity for other days.

How long to stay in Japan?  For a first timer, I say 1 or 2 days for Tokyo, 1 for Kyoto-Osaka, and another two days  for Hiroshima in south or Sapporo in north. A local travel agent from JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) contacted at the hotel can help plan tours.

Starting New Life in Japan: Jobs with sufficient pay to live well are here. Least difficult to get is teaching English but also editing, proof reading, medical assistance and even legal jobs. Check the Help Wanted in the English-language Japan Times. Best to establish personal relationships on a tourist trip and do interview and find living place and then go out of Japan and return with working visa arranged by employer. Most foreigners work in Tokyo/Yokohama/Chiba area but outside is OK too if you can find.
   If you are to start new life in Japan, study Japanese at home. (Of course, you can always buy a Berlitz or other conversation course) For learning Japanese reading and writing The Nelson, Japanese-English Character Dictionary is invaluable. The best single word for a non Japanese to know is Sumimasen! (Usually spoken "sooeemasen" - "Sorry to bother you, but ....!"  It can be used in all cases where you want to ask question, or you inconvenience or accidentally bump someone.
   Once you have job and residence status, you can develop social life. The Japanese are friendly and like to practice English, the women are open to marriage proposal and other proposition, and the men find foreign women alluring.

The sexual psychology of the young Japanese woman (This section may seem very frank to non-Japanese readers but it comes from a Japanese woman and could be useful especially to American men) has many things in common with the young European or American woman but differences exist. The young Japanese woman tends to be a little less free with sexual favors than young women in the U.S.A. so it is a good idea for a foreign man not to rush a Japanese girl into a sexual relationship. Especially do not do any guessing by trying to grope or embrace a woman for kissing. At least one preliminary date and some discussion of a close, perhaps sexual relationship is the best approach. This may be on a mutual vacation weekend at a nearby health spa. Then, in lovemaking, unless discussed ahead of time, a foreign man should not be too aggressive. At the start, best to be very straight and with good preliminary romantic petting. (Japanese women call it "cuddling") Also, especially with the first encounter, the foreign man is expected to practice good hygiene because there is much worry about foreigners spreading sexually transmitted disease, especially HIV/AIDS. So, a mutual hot bath or shower and good obvious mouthwash before the lovemaking is de requier as also is the full use of a condom, which the foreign man is expected to provide.

 Good reading about Japan starts with Lafcadio Hearn’s Japan, An Attempt at An Interpretation. Also to enjoy and learn Japanese life and culture are the English translations of Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Key, Natsume Soseki’s I am a Cat, Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country, and Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Also Google or click .

Eating in Japan: The tourist and new employee will become most involved with the Japanese restaurant dinner: I concentrate on eating for good health. For each restaurant I choose the ideal food that does not overfill, that you will not gain weight on, that you won’t get suddenly sick from and that is good price. Japanese restaurant business lunches take c.30 to 50 minutes. Price of a meal ranges between Yen 500 and Yen 1000. First, do not order a la carte coffee, tea, or beverage that adds to bill.
   If you are going to sample gourmet restaurants (steak house, cutlet, chops, fish & chips etc.), keep in mind that prices may vary much depending on whether you go after 5pm, on weekends, or midday of Tues to Fridays. The best prices are weekdays between 2pm and 4pm. The worst and highest prices are on weekends, holidays and evenings.
   Noodle shop: best buy is mori soba, plain, thin, cool noodles, with chopsticks and dipped in mustard-spiced soy sauce. Order the regular size not the big size and get the usual price Yen c.550 (But prices go up). If you want hot, then try tanuki soba.
   Curry Rice nice: Price in franchise take-out like Matsuya is as low as Yen 380. For a calorie-counting-eater, the serving may be take-out and split into two eatings. Noodle places offer at higher price. And don't forget the Cup Noodle that you buy in a 24-hr Lawson or 7/11  store. For Yen c.160 the Light, 198 K-calorie size, you get a good tasting, low-calorie noodle lunch that just needs hot water.
   Sushi is popular but has raw food risk.
   Hotel eating is expensive.
   Here is a use of chopsticks, or ohashi, in Japan. When you eat, hold them halfway, using one as lever between thumb and index finger and the other steadied between third or fourth finger. When you put food in mouth, of course, the end you eat catches the food. But when you transfer a food from one plate to another, reverse the direction and transfer the food with the untouched upper end. I prefer chopsticks to knife and fork; you can pick up small piece like a rice or corn kernel, hard to do with fork and safer in mouth. And you can cut soft foods with scissor-like motion. Eating with chopsticks allows you to go slow and enjoy more.

Transportation : Ticket is sold at station via vending machine, priced for distance traveled from entrance to exit. If you do not know your destination ticket price, just put in the minimum price using 100, 50 or 10 Yen coins (Indicated on the machine; minimums are 140 or 180 Yen for subways or for JR surface it is 140 Yen or at Narita Airport 140 Yen; but the price goes up each year). The ticket gives entr√©e, and at destination you present the ticket. If you have any question, ask the station clerks, all of whom are usually cooperative and know enough English to help. Most city transit stations close 12 Midnight so best reach your final destination before 12 Midnight.
   Taxis are safe, efficient and reasonably priced. (Uber is available but not advisable because price may be higher and usual taxis in the street are very easy to catch) Most drivers do not understand much English so, if you leave from hotel, have hotel employee tell the driver your destination, otherwise have business card or map to destination or its telephone number so driver may call by his cell phone for instruction on getting there. Do not tip.
If you wish to tour Kyoto the ancient capital, take the Bullet train for the 3 hours from Tokyo Station. For other big city outside Tokyo metro fly domestic airline.
   Leaving Japan needs only show passport at airport.

Creative Writing in Japan: If you are staying in Tokyo and like to write stories or poetry, the Tokyo Writers Workshop meets third Sunday every month and you may find out about a meeting by telephoning (0424) 69 33 77 and speak with John or else Google it.
Millennials in Japan:   A new online magazine The Millennials  ( ) offers self-help, movie reviews, and personal insider view of the young Japanese mentality. It is a good way for expatriates to understand Japanese boys' and girls' mentality and their love-life.

Medical Care  The excellent English-language (for the books not for the personnel) Jikei Medical University Library with latest medical/nursing literature publications in stacks is open 8 AM till 10 PM weekdays and shorter schedule on Saturday (Closed on national holidays). For info, Tel (03) 3433 1111, ask "Toshokan, onegai shimasu" and wait to be connected. It is near the Mita-Line Subway Onarimon Station; and have an ID for the library.
  If you start non tourist living and working in Japan, you should obtain a National Health Insurance (NHI) membership at your local ward office (Kuyakusho; you can’t miss the office because you will have to register there, if non-tourist). If you declare no earnings, only a small amount is taken from your bank account every month. And, once you have the your NHI card, all your medical care, including prescription fees (see below) in local HMO or private office is one third the regular fee (10% the regular if over 65 and salary JPY 3.6 million or less a year). Quality of care good: I know, having used it for thirty years. Medications are dispensed by prescription (Rx) form by physician in clinic and paid for in the NHI system. If you lose an Rx scrip you may get it replaced by mail without a 2nd clinic visit but NHI will not pay for filling a replaced Rx. 
Medical Care; Being a Patient in a Japanese University Hospital:
Note that Japan has an excellent public ambulance system. But it would be very helpful for a foreigner to have a Japanese doctor who can direct the ambulance to take you to his university hospital. Also, in a recent experience of mine, the already mentioned national health insurance, in my case, because I am over age 65 and have a low enough salary my NHI paid 90% of the ambulance and subsequent hospital fees which relieved me of a great deal of anxiety because the total cost of my hospitalization was 360,000 yen a week. I was put in a hospital bed on the orthopedic ward due to fracture accident. In the Japanese university hospital, not much English is spoken or understood. So, it is very helpful to have a Japanese or foreign friend or co-worker, for interpreter, who is fluent in Japanese and your language. The hospital beds are comfortable and the mattress is air-inflated to prevent pressure sores and you have hand controls that allow you to elevate and lower your bed, elevate your feet at the knee and elevate and lower your head. The lights are turned out at 9PM but there is an overhead light over your head that will allow you to read without disturbing your roommates at night. The usual room contains 6 beds partitioned by curtains and there is not a great deal of space for visitors (visiting hours 2-8 Mon.-Sat., 11-10 Sunday). The hospital room and the care that goes with it is covered by the insurance, but if you want a private, single room, you must pay an inordinate fee not covered by the insurance. The food service, I found, tolerable and you can choose to have Western style food, which means you will get bread in the morning rather than rice, and beef and pork rather than fish, and also things like spaghetti and macaroni. Also, it is useful to know that you can delay your meals, for example, lunch is served 12 noon but it can be delayed till 2PM and the supper is served 5:45PM but can be delayed till 7:30PM. 
 Unless you are on a special diet for your illness, you are free to have people bring you alternative food. If you are mobile, there is a Lawson (in Jikei Hospital, but other hospitals have similar convenience stores) on the first floor where you can buy all kinds of goodies to eat. If you want coffee in the morning (in Jikei), take the elevator to floor 3 and you will find a coffee machine. (Very convenient if you are a wheelchair patient) You are expected to bring your own pajamas and buy disposable diapers if you need them. Very useful is bringing an electric shaver.
The doctors speak more or less no English to modest English

Telephone Numbers  Inside Japan, the telephone numbers are written with brackets for area code: (03) is Tokyo; (0424) is Narita International Airport area. Calling inside the area code on land phones does not require the area code but on cell phone it does. Calling from outside Japan, use your region's international access code, then Japan country code 81 and drop the first zero of area code, eg, from North America 011 81 3 3811 8124, you'll get my office, Emergency Assistance Japan, and ask for me, Dr Stim.
Finding an address in Japan starts with the place name, and the section name followed by three hyphenated numbers. For example in Tokyo Ben's Cafe, Takadanobaba 1-29-21. You need to know what is the closest station. Then you go to the station and ask at the usually obvious police box (Koban). The first number is the section-area, or chome, the second number is the block, and the 3rd number is the building number. Once you get experienced you can find it from the map located out on the street in front of every station. Most places have a Google map that may be accessed on internet under its name, eg, "Ben's Cafe." In taxi, show the address to your driver.

Lost & Found in Japan is very good because the Japanese are honest and the system is efficient. If you lose something important, first check ASAP where you lost it if you know (hotel, airport, department store, etc.) by calling to the local place's Lost & Found. If it's like a money card or key or other important pocket item, check with local police office or call central Tokyo police. You'll be astounded how efficient the system is. I know, first hand by 2 experiences. Several months ago my bank cash card went missing. I went to my bank, thinking to cancel the lost one and get a new one. As soon as I said "lost money card". they called the police central and the computer immediately located the card that had dropped from my pocket on the subway and been given to the police by the subway car cleaner at the end of the line. I went to the local police station where the card was found and had it back at once. For longer term lost and found, the police have a building at Iidabashi that you may contact through any police station. More recently, I was coming back to my office by subway and when I arrived at my office I discovered to my horror that my Japan foreigner registration card and my bank money card had dropped out of my inside pocket on the subway! This could have been a catastrophe because the foreigner card must be presented at airports for overseas trips and I planned to do a trip in a week. Since I discovered the loss immediately on arrival at my office and could locate that it must have happened on a particular subway line only in the previous hour I immediately called the subway line through telephone information and within minutes discovered that my lost cards had been found by a subway conductor and were being kept in the station master's office at a nearby station. A good example of the super efficiency of lost and found in Japan if you know the system by reading this.

Employ a housekeeper, the pay rate is c.1500 Yen an hour. The ladies who clean the office where you work can usually be recruited. And pay cash.

Applying for Japanese Nationality/Passport  A non Japanese person wishing to change nationality to Japanese should first call the Ministry of Justice in Tokyo at (03) 3580 4111 and connect with extension 2034. If not fluent in Japanese, have a Japanese friend ask for information about how to change a foreign nationality into a Japanese one. The questioner will be directed to his or her local Ministry of Justice office, the Nationality (Kokuseki) Department. Then one makes a first consultation (sodan) appointment in which one is tested for understanding Japanese and being minimally competent in reading and writing in the hiragana/katakana system. The application involves: 1) An investigation by the Ministry of Justice for criminal activity during one's previous stays in Japan; and 2) documentation of one's family members and spouses (birth, marriage & death certificates), one's recent tax returns in Japan, and one's previous passports and bank books in Japan.

End Note: A Hongkong Tailor in Tokyo: For custom-made clothes by a master tailor using best European and English materials for good price for quality and high honesty in dealing, one should click onto or call  in Japan 090 6116 2965 to speak with Aroon.
Weekend and Holiday Post Office: On Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays the local post offices are closed. In Tokyo, use the Central Post Office at Tokyo Station Marunouchi South Exit, In Yokohama, use the Central Post Office at Yokohama Station, east exit. In other large city inquire at hotel or at street police box. For airmail say hikoki de, or for special deliver sokutatsu and for registered mail kakitome.
 Birthday and Wedding Cakes in Tokyo 
 If you need an inscribed birthday or wedding cake custom-made, use Bellas between Shirogane-Takanawa Mita Subway and Sengakuji stations. Information at WWW.BELLAS-TOKYO.COM. and order at email

A Good Luxury Hotel. I have experience with the Tokyo Dome Hotel near Suidobashi Station, 15 minutes from central Tokyo. (Tel. in Japan 03 5805 2111) It is a 43-story structure with striking views from its lifts and from the 43rd floor Sky Bar & Restaurant (also known as Artists Cafe). If you use a luxury hotel and want the best, try in the Dome, the 39th, 40th and 41st floors for the Executive rooms that come with an Executive Lounge that gives you a very delicious self-serve breakfast from 7 to 10 AM, a coffee time 1 to 5 PM and a drinks time after 5 PM. The Lounge has a desktop computer that is rarely used by Japanese and also good reading and pretty views. Also a seminar room is available by appointment. And you may invite non-hotel guest friends for breakfast, snack & drinks and seminar-room conference. All rooms have free WiFi as does the lobby and floors. Cost of executive floor rooms officially minimally is Yen 35,000 to 55,000, a 2 PM check-in and 11 AM check out; but ask for best price and you might be given room fees down to 20,000 Yen especially in slack season (Spring and Winter). Best to make reservation ahead for "best price" but you may also try the same day any time till 2 PM.

Notes on expatriate life in Japan from an old expat

   The above chapter is basically directed toward the new traveler to Japan. But from here, I wish to give my pearls as an old expat who has spent 30+ years mostly in Tokyo. It will be about eating, shopping, meeting friends. I will keep adding to this each time I update so what you read now may have a look of incompleteness.

 About food shopping through the supermarkets and  the 24-hour stores (the 7/11s and the Lawsons): 1) in supermarket a lot of free samples are given out that you could almost dine on; for example, in my local supermarket, during the tangerine season, they offer plates-full of free pieces of tangerine which I collect for my deserts. Also lots of spicy condiments such as pickled bits of ginger that you can sprinkle on your snack, little packages of mustard and many other like flavorings all free. Then for the economy-minded buyer, you can get discounts if you shop after 8 or 9PM up to 50%.  
I have also noticed what I call the 'ideal snack' that you might spot at certain times. For example at the local 7/11 what I have found is the perfect snack for 298 yen you get 391 kcal in a 13- by 7- by 5-cm high plastic package that includes about 3 quarters cooked red sauce spaghetti, several tasty and fulfilling pieces of cooked chicken and green and orange color fresh vegetable as a salad on top. In this package is also a very nice vegetable oil slightly spicy liquid sauce to dip your forkful of food in before you eat. I find this a perfect meal in that for an inexpensive price it satisfies my appetite without too many calories and without too much trans fat and after I have eaten it even in the several hours later I feel pretty good. Of course this is not the only ideal snack but they are not too frequently found and when you spot one, cherish it.
On using subways and other mass transit: In Tokyo the mass transit is the JR surface (Yamanote and Chuo) lines, the Subways and the buses. Of the trains, the surface lines are least expensive but mostly they are big circles that may miss many inside parts of Tokyo that are better accessed by the subways. Buses are useful for travel within local areas. Pasmo is a travel credit card you buy at subway and ticket machines. One charges the card usually up to 10,000 yen and it automatically pays for tickets until next charge. Also can be used to make purchases in many stores. If you are a long term expat Pasmo is useful and convenient but if you buy a card be sure to copy its data because you pay a 500-Yen deposit on the card and if you lose it and do not have the data where and when you bought it, you not only lose 500 Yen but somebody else may use the money you put in the card. For just buying tickets to ride with coin, the simplest way is to buy the cheapest ticket at your entry point and then pay the extra balance at exit point. (The ticket price is based on distance traveled; the first few stations after your entry point are covered by the cheapest ticket)  Also keep in mind the subways close around midnight and reopen at 5am.

Banking in Japan for Expats: If you accumulate enough cash beyond just your monthly ATM needs, and you are or plan to be a long-time expat, divide your cash into U.S. dollars and Japanese Yen.  The JYen is for your ATM needs, it gives practically zero interest. But the U.S. dollar currently gives c.1.6% annual interest (after fee and Japanese tax deducted) for a 2-year term. And we are now in a period of rising rate for the dollar; so, the technique is to get a $10,000 or $100,000 (your minimum depending on what you can afford) every month until you have used up your surplus dollars and then collect each interest payment that will be churned out after each certificate's 2-year term.  In that way, once the first 2 years have completed, you'll have a nice money tree ($100,000 at 2% at the end of the 2-year term is $2,000). You may also do it in other major foreign currencies at their interest rates

To read next now, click  1.5 New York City for New Traveler

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