Archive for the ‘Community Support ・ 生活支援’ Category



2017.02.28 (Tue)



  The Tori Friend Network is a diverse group of individuals with roots from Japan and all around the world, including China, Korea, the Philippines, Russia, Paraguay, etc., living in central Tottori working together to better understand each other, build friendships, and support each other in their day-to-day lives.

Everyone meets once a month to discuss issues relevant to their daily lives, such as childcare and education and questions relating to work and life (such as getting your driver’s license)- as well as to enjoy meals and crafts together!star

  It’s open to anyone, so if you have questions about your life in central Tottori or are interested in learning more, please reach out to the office for the Tori Friend Network at or (090) 1686-6588. See more at (Japanese):





Japan’s Social Security and Tax Number System (社会保障・税番号制度) and My Number

2016.01.28 (Thu)

My Number?

As part of the Social Security and Tax Number System (社会保障・税番号制度 shakai hoshō zei bangō seido) being implemented in Japan, “My Number” is the nickname for the 12-digit individual number being issued to all individuals holding a residence record with a municipality in Japan. This includes foreigners staying in Japan who are registered as residents with an address in Japan staying for a medium to long-term period of time (not for tourism purposes). Starting from January 2016, these numbers will be used when completing procedures for social security, taxation, and disaster response.

This system is meant “to improve administrative efficiency, enhance public convenience and realize a fairer and more just society.” Through this strengthened information infrastructure, the Japanese government hopes to reduce the documentation necessary for certain administrative procedures, prevent unfair payments and tax evasion, and reduce inefficiencies.

Please note that while you may apply to change your individual number if it is stolen and abused, the 12-digit individual number is intended to be used for your entire lifetime (even if you leave and then re-enter Japan or change residences), so please be careful with its use.


My Number Notification Cards

Municipal governments started sending out the notification cards relating to “My Number” in October of 2015. These include the actual Individual Number notification card, the Individual Number IC card application form and return envelope, and an explanatory pamphlet (Japanese). Be sure to keep this documentation in a safe and secure place where you will be able to access it as necessary.


Individual Number Cards

Applying for the Individual Number Card is optional and can be done any time after receiving your notification card. The Individual Number Card is a plastic IC card that displays the holder’s photo and basic information points, as well as the holder’s individual number. It may be used for various services, such as completing certain procedures online, possibly getting government certificates at convenience stores, and verifying your individual number.

You may apply for the Individual Number Card by completing and submitting the application form that accompanied the notification card to your local government office, or via your smartphone or personal computer. You will also need to attach a photo of yourself taken within the last 6 months.

When your card is ready, you will get a postcard telling you to pick it up at your local government office. You will need to bring your notification card, the postcard mentioned above, a valid form of picture identification (such as a driver’s license), and your Basic Resident Registration Card (if you have one). You will return the notification card and the Basic Resident Registration Card (if applicable) at that time.


Further Information

The following are a handful of useful English sites that include more detailed information to help answer any questions or concerns you may have about My Number:

・Japan Agency for Local Authority Information Systems (J-LIS) My Number System Web-page:

・Cabinet Secretariat Website (FAQ Section):

・Japanese Government Internet TV (My Number Video with English Subtitles)


Call Center for the Social Security and Tax Number System (Multilingual Service)
   Call Center Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 22:00 p.m.
※Languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese.
※Available through September 29, 2017.
※Excludes national holidays and weekends.


外免切替:                        .。・Switching to a Japanese Driver’s License・。.

2015.08.12 (Wed)

This past June, I went through the process of switching my license to a Japanese driver’s license and wanted to make a post for anyone wanting to switch from a foreign driver’s license to a Japanese driver’s license. It may seem a bit daunting, but it is actually quite straightforward (and doable) once you get the ball rolling. Just as a disclaimer, this is based on my experience as an American switching my license in Tottori while holding a valid International Driving Permit. Your experience may be a bit different based on nationality, location, timing, etc., but overall should be about the same.

Japanese Translation

  • You can get this at the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), foreign embassies   and consulates in Japan, or the licensing authority that originally issued your license.
      ※The translation must be issued by one of the above.
  • Your foreign license must be valid.
  • You must have held it for 90 days before coming to Japan.
      ※If you have to renew your license before coming to Japan, make sure you do so more than 90 days before your departure to Japan. Another option is to bring your expired license as well as the renewed license to prove that you held a license for more than 3 months before coming to Japan.
  • I got my translation from the JAF Tottori branch, so the details below are based on the current (2015) JAF requirements and process.
    • No appointment necessary.
    • ¥3,000 license translation fee
    • ¥392 postage fee
    • Processing could take 1~3 weeks
      ※Mine came the next day, so I think this depends on how busy the center is. Regardless, it is probably better to plan accordingly and leave plenty of time, just in case.
  • JAF (Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture):
    JAF Tottori Road Service Center
    2-13 Chiyomi, Tottori-shi, Tottori-ken
    TEL: 0857-31-4949


JAF鳥取ロードサービスセンターDocuments Needed JAF



  • After obtaining the translation of your foreign license, you are able to set up an appointment with your local driving center for submitting your documentation for review, as well as an interview concerning the process of how you got your license.
  • I set up the appointment for my interview/document submission at the Yurihama Driver’s License Center (it was held in the afternoon- there may be certain hours when the driving centers will hold the interviews, so please check with wherever you are applying).
      For anyone who does not speak Japanese, an interpreter is needed as the interview is conducted in Japanese (if you are a resident of Yurihama and need an interpreter for your driver’s license interview, please contact the Town Office Planning Division).
  • Appointment required.
  • You first submit the documents required (see below) and will wait a while those are reviewed before beginning the interview.
  • The interview is primarily based on the process you went through in getting your foreign driver’s license.
      ※You might want to take some time to recall the steps, dates, log hours, and other requirements you went through in getting your license. I found that I had forgotten a bit regarding my driver’s education course and the timing between the written and driving portions of my US driving exam.
  • When this is finished, you will wait a few days while a report regarding your license is approved.
  • Yurihama Driver’s License Center
    216 Kamiasozu, Yurihama-chō, Tōhaku-gun,
    Tottori-ken, Japan
    TEL: 0858-35-6110

Documents Needed Driving Center

Driving Test

  • After you hear about the results of the interview and document inspection, you are able to set up an appointment for your vision and hearing tests, the written portion of the examination, and the driving portion of the examination (if you have time and would like to, but you are not required to take it at that time).
  • I also set up the appointment for the examination at the Yurihama Driver’s License Center. As with the interview/document submission, this was held in the afternoon.
  • The application fee was ¥2,200. If you need to retake the driving portion of the test, you will have to pay the application fee each time you go.

Sight and Hearing

  • The tests run for the vision and hearing portion are the usual ones you would expect. Nothing too strenuous.

Written Portion

  • The written portion of the driving test includes 10 questions. You must get 7 out of 10 correct in order to pass.
  • Overall, it is not too difficult and is not the test that the Japanese citizens would take. While it is generally based on common sense and basic driving rules, it might be a good idea to review Japanese road signs and basic Japanese driving laws.
  • Useful Links


  • I chose to take the driving portion on the same day as my written exam. Before the actual test, they have you watch a video (it is a little under 30 minutes, if I remember correctly). It was in Japanese and a little bit dated, but still applicable and had some good reminders and tips for the driving test.
  • There will usually be another person taking the test who would ride along with you (and you would sit in the back while they take their test as well). I was the only one taking it in the afternoon, so they had one of the employees sit in the back of the car while I drove.
  • In Yurihama, the this portion is held on a driving course with two general patterns that the center alternates between. The test administrator will tell you what to do during the test, so you fortunately do not need to memorize these. You may have an interpreter, but I would also recommend at least reviewing common driving commands for turning right/left.
  • With the exception of the optional driving test following the written exam, the driving portion is held in the morning. You do not need an appointment, but it is a good idea to go early to ensure you are able to take the exam.
  • Your license will be issued on the same day you pass the exam. The issuance fee when I went was ¥2,050.


As you may have already heard, it is difficult to pass the driving portion on the first try- but not impossible! I think it is important to be aware of some of the habits you have formed over the years and recognize which ones you might want to avoid while taking the exam.

My general advice would be to be sure to check your mirrors and environment during the test and err on the side of caution. Check at the intersection for other cars and bicycles- even if you have the green light at the intersection. Also remember to check your blind spots and remember there is no need to rush.

You should use your blinker starting from 30 meters away and use the hand-over-hand method when making turns. Leave your blinker on for 3 seconds before changing lanes, and if you accidentally go up on a curb, stop and reverse.

It is all in Japanese, but this video has some great tips and gives you a good idea of what to expect:

Best of luck to anyone looking to switch their license!☆

Just a reminder- you want to make sure that you apply for a Japanese license BEFORE your international driving permit expires (and with enough time left to allow for processing, rescheduling, or any possible hitches that could come up).




Postal communication guide 郵便局で使える指さし会話集

2014.05.14 (Wed)
Photo by By Tomomarusan, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by By Tomomarusan, via Wikimedia Commons

Japan Post has a useful bilingual chart that you can print out and take to the post office to help you communicate with post office staff to help you send letters and parcels, request re-delivery, change your address and more. Available in English, Chinese and Korean.




Multilingual guide app released 「多言語生活情報」のスマートフォンアプリ

2014.04.01 (Tue)


The “Japan Life Guide” provides foreign residents in Japan necessary lifestyle information across 17 categories, such as “Medical care”, “Education” and “Emergencies and Disasters”, in 13 languages.

The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) has released a free iOS/Android app, “Japan Life Guide”, which provides free information in 13 languages about daily life for foreign residents in Japan. You can use this app as an everyday guide as well as in times of disaster.

App Features: Easy to understand information in 13 languages and 17 topics such as status of residence, housing, education, health and more. When an earthquake over seismic intensity 5 occurs in Japan, the app will notify users in the language of their choice.

Service in 13 languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portugese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, German, French, Russian, Japanese with furigana.

Get the app at:, or search for “Japan Life Guide” in the iOS App Store or on Google Play.



 アプリの機能: 「在留資格」、「住まい」、「教育」「医療」など生活に必要な情報を17項目にわたり13言語で分かりやすく説明。日本国内で震度5以上の地震が発生したときに配信される緊急地震速報を13言語で表示。

 13言語で提供: 英語、中国語、韓国・朝鮮語、スペイン語、ポルトガル語、タガログ語、ベトナム語、インドネシア語、タイ語、ドイツ語、フランス語、ロシア語、日本語(ふりがな付き)

 スマートフォンやダイレクトからダウンロード:, iOS: App Store, Android: Google Playで「多言語生活情報」、または「Japan Life Guide」を検索してください。


Six tips to stay warm in Yurihama this winter

2014.01.16 (Thu)


Winter is here! Being from a warm place, I watched the first snowfall with equal parts terror and amazement. It’s going to be COLD. So here are some tips to keep your place and yourself warm this winter without sending your heating bills skyrocketing.

 Block drafts and cover bare floors.

Obviously it’s a good idea to close your windows, but what about that gap under your front door that sends cold air whistling through your place? It may seem like a small gap, but blocking it can make an instant difference. You can block drafts with self-adhesive foam strips, or buy drauft excluders. You can even make your own with old stockings and a filling like rice or dried beans. Along the same lines, covering bare floor with a rug will help keep your space—and your feet—warmer.

 Insulate your windows.

Your windows are the source of a lot heat loss. Thick curtains will keep heat in and cold out – especially ones with thermal backing. If your budget doesn’t stretch to new curtains, even a cheap plastic shower curtain (behind your existing curtains) will help. Another method is bubblewrap directly on the glass – this insulates your windows but still lets light in during the day. Check out this tutorial on how to do it.

 Close off rooms, use a timer for your heater and set your heater as low as you can.

This may be obvious, but it’s worth saying. If you have your heater on, close off rooms that you aren’t using. That way, you only heat the space you need. Also, putting your heater on a timer can make sure that it isn’t on all the time, but it is on when you need it. Finally, try to get a little acclimatised to the cold, by setting your heater as low as you can manage. Every degree lower saves more money on your heating bill. Somewhere between 18C and 21C is good for most people, especially if they dress warmly.

Layer up.

Dress for the temperature and you’ll find your energy bill lower and your life more comfortable. Wearing several thin layers is a better way to keep yourself warm than one thick layer. Get some thermals, and layer them with jeans, long sleeved shirts, cardigans, jumpers and so on. Scarves, hats, gloves and good socks can make a big difference too. Uniqlo has a good range of heat-tech and other winter clothes at a pretty reasonable price.

 Heat yourself.

Heating yourself directly, rather than the air around you, is more efficient way. Hot water bottles can be used in your bed, or to warm you up when you’re on the couch. Also, while you’re on the couch, use a blanket or throw to stay warm. Heating pads, electric carpets or kotatsu are also good ways to directly heat yourself. Also, get into hot drinks, like tea, coffee or cocoa, or even just hot water, and stick a kairo on the outside of your innermost layer of clothes. If you’re near the Matsuzaki or Hawai onsen footbaths, go dangle you toes in there! Or better yet, pop into an onsen.

 Stay healthy

With short days and cold temperatures, it can be easy to feel low. Staying healthy will help to you stay warm, so try to get enough sunshine, water, nutrients and social activity. Also, if you’re chilled to the bone and can’t get warm, do 20 minutes of vigorous exercise before you see if you need to crank the heater up to tropical strength. It will help your body and your brain.


Tips for driving in snow 雪で運転するコツ

2013.11.28 (Thu)

car-in-snow-1024x640 Photo by Chris Runoff (flickr- creative commons)

Yurihama is not Hokkaido, but we do get snow. Here are some tips for driving in snowy and icy conditions.

Prevention is better than cure

Make sure your car is serviced regularly, and your battery, antifreeze/cooling system, defroster and rear window defogger, and windscreen wipers are in good shape. Snow tires are also a good idea – they have a special tread and are made of a softer rubber so they won’t freeze as hard. In Japanese, these are called スノータイヤ (suno—taiya, snow tire) or スタッドレスタイヤ (sutaddoresu taiya, studless tire). Inside your car, stash extra warm clothes, blankets, food and water, as well as a snow shovel and some kitty litter or sand so you can dig yourself out and give your car some traction.

It’s all about traction

Driving in winter is all about maintaining traction. In general, don’t accelerate or brake too suddenly or too hard, keep the engine speed as low as possible, and avoid sudden turns. If you feel that you’ve lost traction and your wheels lock up, don’t slam on the brakes – either ease off the accelerator and let the car slow down on its own, or pump the brakes gently.

Leave lots of space

One of the most common mistakes people make when driving in snow is not leaving enough stopping distance. Especially because your brakes aren’t as effective, you need to leave twice, or even three times as much distance between you and the car in front. This will give you time to come to a stop or steer around them if needed.

One final note is not to use hot water to clear the ice from your windscreen – you may crack the glass! Room temperature water is a better bet, or use a scraper.

If, like me, these tips make you more rather than less terrified of driving in the snow, do some more reading on technique, and practice in an open space, like a carpark or parking lot, before taking to the open road. You could also try the driving school in Kurayoshi!