Here’s How to Have Your Utilities Set Up in Your New Home in Japan
In case you didn't know.
When starting a new life in Japan, not only is there housing to take care of, but also basic utilities such as electricity, gas, and water. Take note that electrical, gas, and water companies are not included in the apartment contract, so you have to contact them yourself and pay for usage separately from the rent.
Below are some of the things you need to know when hiring a utility company:
After deciding on a date when you’ll start using electricity, contact (you or the real estate agent can help you with this) the electrical company as soon as possible. On that same day, you should be able to start using the electricity when you flip the breaker switch that’s located near your front door. However, there will be times when a person from the electrical company will visit you, depending on your contract or the state of your facilities. In that case, you will be informed beforehand.
Keep in mind that the electrical voltage in Japan is 100 volts or 50/60 Hz AC. 50 is more common in Eastern Japan (which includes Tokyo) while 60 is more common in Western Japan (which includes Osaka and Kyoto). When buying electrical devices in Japan though, there isn’t much of a difference so you don’t have to think about it too much.
Electrical outlets in Japan are also two-pronged.
Like anywhere else, electricity charges are determined based on the amount used. However, there is a thing called kihonryoukin, which is a monthly flat fee regardless of how much or little you use.
Methods for paying your electricity bill include automatic deduction from your bank account, payment at a convenience store or bank, credit card payment, etc. For the other methods of payment (such as bank or credit card), you will have to apply for them initially.
You’ll have to contact the electricity company once your move-out date has been finalized. That’s it. Sometimes, you’ll need to be present if the electricity meter cannot be checked from the outside. In this case, you’ll be informed by the electricity company beforehand.
It is important to note that there are several types of gas that can be used at general residences. In choosing gas appliances, such as gas heaters and the like, it is very important to buy one that’s compatible with the type of gas you have. Otherwise, this may lead to fires or incomplete combustion. Be careful!
As with electricity, you will need to request gas use from a gas retailer or an LP gas sales company in your residential area (your real estate agent should be able to help you out with this). However, unlike electricity and water set-up, you will have to be present when they’re setting up the gas. As such, you’ll need to schedule a time when you’ll be available when the person from the company arrives. During their visit, they will inspect the facilities, set up your gas, and teach you how to use gas appliances.
Gas usage will largely on the appliances that you use. For example, gas ranges require more gas, while IH or electric stovetops require electricity. Heated water, on the other hand, usually requires gas.
As with electricity, charges are determined based on the amount used. Payment options are more or less the same as well (automatic deduction from your bank account, payment at a convenience store or bank, credit card payment, etc.).
You’ll have to contact the gas company once your move-out date has been decided. You can do this via the Internet or by phone. Either way, you will also need to know your “Customer Number” (お客さま番号, okyakusama bango), which is written on the usage notice sent to you every month (see our pro-tip below).
As with electricity and gas, you’ll have to contact the Waterworks Bureau or the department in charge of water in your municipality. This will depend on the area you live in (the real estate agent can help you with that).
Tap water in Japan is potable and some Japanese people drink them straight out of the faucet. When taking a bath, other people prefer taking showers as opposed to the Japanese bath called ofuro. For water heaters, some of those available in Japan are automated with panels that feature a lot of buttons and options. Make sure that you do not use the drains for oil or solid objects as the pipes are very narrow and clog easily.
As with electricity and gas, charges are determined based on the amount used. Payment options are more or less the same as well (automatic deduction from your bank account, payment at a convenience store or bank, credit card payment, etc.). In most cases, the payment of water bills is done every two months, unlike gas and electricity which is done every month.
You’ll have to contact the water company once your move-out date has been finalized. Depending on the municipality, you can do this via the Internet or by phone.
For electricity, gas, and water bills, you will receive two slips: an initial Usage Notice, and another that you will have to bring to the convenience store (or other establishments) when making your payment called furikomi youshi.
If you cannot read kanji, it is simpler to remember that most furikomi youshi have barcodes on them. After paying using the furikomi youshi, you will receive a slip of paper that you can keep so you can track your utility usage.
(24 June 2019)