What you need to prepare before moving to Japan as a Muslim

So, you’ve made it. The visa is now right on your hand. You have 3 months before it’s expired. You are wondering where to start, what to pay first. Should you book a flight first? Should you book an apartment first? What to bring from your country? Will you find halal food in Japan airport? Where did you buy groceries?

PRE-DEPARTURE

• Book a house

I will strongly sugest you to book a house at first. Make your decicion right in picking a  house because it will be linked to a lot of official things like bank account, phone bill, and many more.

Book an airplane ticket

If you can go to the full service airlines, I strongly suggest to use that one rather than the budget one because you need every kilogram of your baggage. And if it’s possible, choose one with direct flight for minimize the risk of losing baggage during transit.

If you are a muslim like me, don’t forget to check if the airlines provide halal food. I use Garuda Indonesia so I don’t have problem with it. But if you are using Japanese airplane (like JAL or ANA), or airplane where the major residence are not muslims (like Philliphine airlines), it’s better to ask muslim meal – read about muslim meal on my previous post here.

ARRIVING DAY

• Finding prayer room at Japan’s Airport

You can easily find prayer room in major airport like Haneda (Tokyo), Narita (Tokyo), Kansai (Osaka), and Chubu (Nagoya), Shin Chitose (Hokkaido), Naha (Okinawa), Fukuoka Airport (Fukuoka) and Kagoshima Airport (Kagoshima). It was complete with place for ablution (wudhu), but maybe prepare for bring your own praying garment because sometimes they didn’t provide it. Please be informed that prayer room in Japan are made for all religion and sects, so don’t be surprised if there is someone else that was not a  muslim also using the prayer room.

• Finding halal food to eat at airport

In Japan, halal food are dominated with Turkish, Indian, and Malay food. At Haneda airport, you can find Turkish kebab stall and it’s halal, in Narita there’s a curry place which provide halal menu. If you are arriving in Japan via Kansai, you can have more options since they have a lot of halal restaurant!

ARRIVED AT YOUR HOUSE

• Orientation

I life in a share house and I have to do some move-in orientation. I was thinking it will be like earth quake or nuclear missile evacuation 101 stuff, but then I found out it’s only explaining that you have to put-your-food-inside-ziplock-at-the-shared refrigator kind of stuff.

• Finding Qibla

I use an apps called ‘Qibla finder’ to find praying direction at my house and my office.

GETTING YOURSELF REGISTERED

Residence Card

If you are arrived at one of this airport: Haneda, Narita, KIX, or Chubu, you can get your residence card (zairyu card) issued at airport. After that, you have 14 days for registering yourself at the munipicial office where you lived. I currently lived in Meguro, so my munipicial office is Meguro Ward. I do my registration a day after I arrived in Japan with A LOT of help for translating from my co-worker, Sabrina. If you can’t speak Japanese and didn’t bring any friends who understand Japanese with you, you have to explain about it. The munipicial office will call some staff who can speak english, but you have to wait like 15 minutes.

Health Insurance

If you are living in Japan more than 3 months, it’s required by law to have health insurance. If you are having the National Health Insurance (NHI), you only have to pay 30% when you need to visit the doctor or bought medicine because the rest of 70% are on Goverment. But there’s also people who choose private insurance instead the NHI one where you have to pay 100% by yourself and then get reimbursed to the insurance company. Pick one that will meet your need.

GETTING HANKO

• Hanko

In Japan, Hanko (or sometimes also called Inkan) are autograph/signature subtitute for official document. You will need it for Bank stuff and signing contract/agreement. When you firstly getting to the shop, they will ask your last name in Japanese and count how much letter it has. I’ve got 4 letter for my last name, so the craftman will count it as = 4 x the cost for crave the Hanko. And then they will ask you which material you’d like for the Hanko/Inkan body. On the Hanko shop I went, they have plastic, wood, and bamboo. I go to the very basic plastic one because I don’t think I will sign for any big contract like house loan or car installment (You need some kind of the ‘fancier’ Hanko if you’re going to sign that kind of document).

GETTING BANK ACCOUNT & MOBILE PHONE

• Bank Account

Bank staff usually not speak english, so I’m very lucky to have Sabrina helped me when I set up my Bank Account for the first time. You need to have your official Katakana also your home address written by yourself in Japanese for some documents. I didn’t prepared for that but I pass because I can imitate it easily (THANKS GOD FOR ILLUSTRATOR HANDS).

• Mobile Phone

Network in Japan is a bit different with other countries, so you have to check it first if you can use your phone in Japan. In my case, my phone can’t make it on Japan network (rolling my eyes), so I need to get a new one. I’m so lucky that I can get the phone for free just by sign up a data plan, and then change to the cheaper plan on the next month (My provider officer are the one who suggest this. Don’t blame me, I’m not cheating! lol).

GROCERIES

Where to buy groceries

You can use google maps to find some local supermarket near your house, but usually there’s also a supermarket close or next to the station like Tokyu Store. The price are a bit competitive you need to figure it out by yourself which supermarket have the best price for you.

In Tokyo there’s a halal supermarket called Al-Falah in Ikebukuro. My Basket also bring halal food at some of their branch. You can also go to vegetarian store like Natural House if you’re looking for vegetarian food. But in general, you can easily finding fish and seafood at any supermarket in Japan. So, except you have major allergy with fish and seafood, actually eating in Japan are not that hard.

For cleaning stuff like detergent, fabric softener, fabric spray, you can have more choice + getting a better price or some special offer on the local drugstore rather than supermarket.

If there’s a place called Don Quijote near you, besides groceries stuff you can also bought cooking utentils and house equipment right there (like frying pan, wooden spatula, steam iron, etc). Basically it’s a discount store that selling everything.

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