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Useful Information for International Visitors

Useful Information for International Visitors For our international exchange students and post-graduate international research/training fellows, this page provides you with information to help you get started in your life at Showa University and in Japan. We highly recommend that you read all of the information provided here before your arrival to Japan.

First Steps

For our visitors who will live in Japan for more than 90 days, it is important to register and sign-up for the basic service all citizens will need. The staff at the International Exchange Center will help you complete these steps during your first days here!

Resident Registration and Residence Card

At your port entry into Japan, foreign residents who live in Japan for 90 days or longer will receive a Residence Card ("zairyuu kahdo"; 在留カード). After you receive your residence card, you must register with it as a residence at the Shinagawa City office.
When you return to your home country, you must give back the Residence Card to the Japan Immigration Office at an international Airport.

Residence card
Residence card

National Health Insurance (NHI)

Foreign residents who live in Japan for 90 days or longer must purchase National Health Insurance (NHI). You can sign up for this insurance at the city office when you register. NHI covers 70% of medical and dental costs and it includes consultation with doctors/dentists, treatments, prescription drugs, and hospitalizations.
Useful link: Shinagawa City Office

Bank Account

To open an bank account at the Japan Post bank, you will need: 1) Passport, 2) Residence Card or National Health Insurance Card, 3) Hanko (Japanese personal seal, if you have one).

Bank Account

Orientation Packet

All students will receive this packet and an orientation upon arrival. However, we highly recommend that visitors download and read this packet before their arrival!
Orientation Packet for Exchange Students(4.92MB)
Orientation Packet for International Fellows(6.17MB)

Living Guide

Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) – Multilingual information resources covering life in Japan and what to do during a natural disaster (Website)

Mobile Phones

Unfortunately, it is very difficult for foreign visitors to make a typical subscription phone plan, because the standard length is 2 years (which is longer than the length of most visas). Instead, rental phones, prepaid phones, and SIM cards are the easiest ways to make phone calls in Japan for the average traveler. Here are some helpful links that provide more information:
mobile in japan

Free Wi-Fi/Internet

All of Showa University (dormitories, campuses, and hospitals) provide free internet/Wi-Fi access to international visitors. However, outside of Showa University it is relatively difficult to find a free Wi-Fi in Japan. Several of the train companies (include the Tokyo Metro) and individual stores have begun to provide free Wi-Fi, but the coverage is still very patchwork. The following information might be useful.

Japan Connected-Free Wi-Fi -- Free phone app that lets you find and access free Wi-Fi spots offered by contractors throughout japan (registration required)

Travel Japan Wi-Fi -- Another free phone app that lets you access free Wi-fi spots. Premium code, available at distribution centers throughout Japan, is required for full access.

FREE Wi-Fi Passport -- Free Wi-Fi service for 2 weeks provided by the SoftBank, a large Japanese Telecommunications company

U-Mobile Prepaid -- Not free, but Wi-Fi guaranteed throughout Japan. Pre-paid (7,15, or 30 days) SIM cards for data-use only; sold in vending machines in Narita Airport

  • Japan Connected-Free Wi-Fi
  • Travel Japan Wi-Fi
  • FREE Wi-Fi Passport


The Metropolitan City of Tokyo has a well-developed network of railways (JR and other private railways), subways and buses running in all directions. It can seem overwhelming at first, but after a few times, most visitors get used to using Tokyo’s transportation system. If you do get lost or confused, ask the nearest station worker ☺. If you want to get out of the city, regional trains and the Shinkansen (bullet train) are reliable and convenient. Here are also some helpful links:

Jorudan -- an ESSENTIAL website that provides the quickest and easiest train route between any two stations.

Tokyo Subway Map -- Downloadable maps of the Tokyo Metro Subway, available in several languages.

Tokyu Rail Way -- A private railway company that operates the local lines around Showa University’s Hatanodai and Senzoku campuses.

JR-East -- Information on purchasing, reading, and types of tickets (including Shinkansen) on East Japan Rail Way (JR-East), the main regional railway company connecting Tokyo to the rest of Japan.

Airport Limousine -- Limousine bus service to/from Haneda and Narita airport.

  • Jorudan
  • Tokyo Subway Map
    Tokyo Subway Map
  • Tokyu Rail Way
    Tokyu Rail Way
  • JR-East
  • Airport Limousine
    Airport Limousine

Pasmo/Suica (Daily necessities)

A prepaid card (such as JR’s SUICA or the PASMO) is a convenient way to get on the train because you do not have to use the ticket machine for each ride or worry about difficulties in transferring to a new line operated by a different railway company. In addition to using them on trains and buses, you can also use them to purchase goods and services from stores such as convenience stores that accept electronic money payments. Both of them function basically the same, so choose whichever one is most convenient to purchase.

Pasmo -- Tokyo Metro

Suica -- JR (Japan Railway)


Shopping and Sightseeing

There are many shopping opportunities located around Hatanodai as well as the wider Tokyo area. Please refer to the maps in your Orientation Packet for specific shops located nearby.
For ideas of places to see in and around Tokyo, please take a look at the links below, or ask us at the International Exchange Center. We have tour books available as well as a lot of personal recommendations.

Japan Guide -– Website focusing on sightseeing in Japan and living information

Metropolis -- Japan’s #1 English magazine

Time Out:Tokyo -- Another popular English magazine about events and activities in Tokyo

  • Japan Guide
    Japan Guide
  • Metropolis
  • Time Out:Tokyo
    Time Out:Tokyo

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