Thursday, October 10, 2013

Things to do before leaving Japan

Terminating services and dying to pay them is never easy in Japan... but if you must leave, here is a detailed account of my experience:

1) Cancelling utilities (water, gas and electricity)
They can come on your last day (only weekdays and half a Saturday) to tell you how much you owe them and pay cash on the spot. Otherwise you can also request them to deduct from your bank account if you had already setup automatic payment deduction. Gas will be stopped immediately but water and electricity will continue to run.
★Call 1-2 weeks ahead of time.

2) Selling off furniture
Bulky trash, called "soudai gomi", is always troublesome to get rid off because you have to pay for their disposal. This includes bulky furniture and large futon. My friend's tip is to cut them up  or dismantle them into smaller pieces to reduce cost or free if you can squeeze into smaller bags. Alternatively, you can contact recycle shops like what I did to see if they can remove everything without paying them. Of course if you live close to schools like me, selling to new students is always better than to recycle shops.
★Start listing and selling 2 weeks ahead of time.

3) Giving away things.
There are many things you might use till the last day or maybe not towards the last day. It's always better to ask some friends who would come to accept your "leftovers" like detergent, soap, toilet paper, towels, etc...
★Prepare 2 weeks ahead of time and ask friends to come down on your last day to help clear your leftovers if you don't want to just trash them away.

4) Shipping things back home.
My post office was a pain in the ass and Yamato Kuroneko opposite them wasn't anyway better. For example, when I wanted to ship skincare, the Japan post office wanted me to list each item exactly, like toner, moisturizer, etc. and even wanted me to list the prices for each item. I had to tell them  I bought them in sets and the guy reluctantly allowed me to just put in an estimate. However, when I went to them for the second time, they told me that they could not ship my skincare because most of them contain alcohol and they are forbidden by Singapore customs! I had to argue that they allowed me to post the other time and they became so confused that they simply rejected my shipping.. ... ... So I went to Kuroneko, and unfortunately, they told me that they are weak in global logistics and could not accept my parcel if it contains skincare because of the alcohol content. Ok, that's really crazy but fyi, my mum received the skincare parcel within 5 working days although the post told me that it will take 2 weeks. Another ridiculous instance was when I listed my item as "toy" and the lady asked me to specify what toy. I replied that it was a Daruma, so she told me to write "Doll (Daruma)"... ...
★Try to ship at big post offices like the one in Shinjuku because other post offices behave like countryside and weak in dealing with complex shipment like personal effects. Cheapest is by sea via Japan post although it will take 1-2 months. I used both SAL (2 weeks) and EMS for very important items. You can find out the charges and duration here:

5) Cancelling residency card and national health insurance.
Head down to the municipal ward to cancel your residency. Then the insurance department will tell you how much you owe them. I had to pay for the entire month of October so they gave me an envelope to return the card at the airport's post office. Strangely, I think you can just leave Japan and not pay anything. The amazing trust in Japanese society...
★Can be done anytime or a few days before you leave Japan.

6) Cancelling Flets broadband internet.
It's weird but the broadband provider and the internet providers are different and you have to cancel each one by yourself!? (Japanese system is not as automated, centralised nor efficient) I tried to cancel my Yahoo BB on the day I had to leave via the internet, thinking it will terminate immediately. But instead, the website say that they will mail me a postcard...  -___-;; Luckily there was an option to leave a new address so I left my friend's address. What if I just closed my bank account and left the country? ... Once again, the amazing trust they give despite making the termination and payment process so inefficient and troublesome.
★Cancel 2 weeks earlier so they can mail you the envelop to return the modem and mail you the mysterious postcard... (I wonder why they don't just terminate and accept credit card payment, oh wait, it's Japan...)

7) Cancelling mobile phone.
I went to Softbank near my place to cancel and waited for 15mins for processing. Then I was told that I needed to wait for another 30mins-1 hour for the payment invoice to be generated from their central system. Wow... there I was dying to give them my money but they won't take it! Then I went to the Softbank retail at Narita airport and was told that because I had already setup automatic monthly payment deduction from my bank account, they might double charge me next month if I pay them in cash now. It is evident that their finance system is not well-integrated and centrally controlled. Hmm... once again, I could have just closed my bank account and left :/
★Terminate on the day that you're leaving. It will take 30mins-1 hour to terminate an account and generate an invoice so you can pay them. "Amazingly fast".


  1. Well...the big conclusion is that Japandoes not know anything about centralizing business and making it easier ofr the customer...and the great tip...cancel the bank account and run, I bet may do the trick :D

  2. that's why nobody leaves Japan. :D

  3. I think the thing I'm worried about the most - IF I ever leave Japan - is sending stuff back home.
    You have NO idea how much stuff has piled up after 6 years of living in Japan! ^^;;; ...
    Uh, oh! T___T

    1. I'm also a woman, believe me, I know!!!
      You gotta do sea shipment or find a company to ship your stuff back I think.
      But hey, your next stop could be somewhere closer :P

  4. Been following your comic but 1st time commenting.. shipping might be a pain but don't blame them.. pain in the beginning declaring it may be better than pain at the end trying to clear it from Singapore customs. Trust me, it can be verry painful..

    1. I had shipped things back home and to other countries. It doesn't have to be this precise and I had no problems with Singapore customs. They usually call if there's any problems or ask me to pay tax because I ordered something too expensive.

      But hey, thank you very much for following my comics! :D

  5. Ha, You forgot to mention about parole termination, in the case if You are on probation before judgement, and sitting on parole. That could take half year and lot of money for lawyers.

    What did You do with Kopi and Teh? Did You left them on the street? I can adopt them then.

    Glad that You left that country easy without big issues.

    ewww ...

    1. I can't afford to send Kopi and Teh to America XD

      Yes thank you, I left the country without any big problem.
      But now I don't have a room in Singapore and gotta wait for my sister's place to be ready at the end of the year :S

    2. He-he, I could imagine how Your parents are happy with You and all Your's dogs and cats. And, You does not have a room, does it mean that Kopi and Teh are living in corridor? on the balcony? in the kitchen? in the bathroom 8?

      Did You start job hunting?

      BTW, I beleive, the fact that You do not have a room is a good reason to start travelling. Wanna visit Ammeriko?


    3. They live in my mind XD

      I haven't start job hunting because I will be flying again next week! XD
      Haha... yes traveling before I can move to my sis's apartment.

      I want to visit Amerika too but it's too expensive! :P

  6. WOW! Thanks for this. I'm navigating my way through this logistical nightmare now... Be lucky you don't have more years invested into Japan then have to shut things down like me... I had to spend 2 hours at the ward office to get my move-out notice processed, then had to beg the Tax Division to let me pay my taxes through my bank account because I don't have the balance for the year's taxes right now... *sigh*

    1. Hey a reader from FB actually said that his friend didn't pay tax and after a few years, the reader went to Japan and volunteered to help him pay the taxes, only to find out that the tax authority had determined it was impossible to get back the $ and written them off already...

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