Yamanashi, affectionately known by all as 'The Nash', is the 41st most populous out of the 47 Japanese prefectures (that translates to not very populous), and the 32nd largest prefecture ranked by area (that’s squarely average). It’s located to the Southeast of Tokyo, and is bordered by the south by Shizuoka Prefecture, the East by Kanagawa, Saitama, and Tokyo Prefectures, and the North and West by Nagano Prefecture. We’re also home to the best view of the lovely Mt. Fuji, and don’t let Shizuokans tell you otherwise!
While we’re not really well known (even Japanese people have trouble placing us at times), don’t let the low-name brand value get you down! We have a small, tight-knit community with a lot to offer! And if you can’t find a local group for your specific hobby, say, 'Dinosaur Boxing,' we’re sure you can find one in Tokyo. Kofu station is a 1.5 hour express train ride or a 2 hour bus ride from Shinjuku! So enjoy living large in the inaka countryside, but feel free quench your thirst for big-city living on the weekends!
Of course we have tons to do in Yamanashi as well. From indoor activities like shopping or movie watching at Aeon mall to outdoor activites like hiking, skiing, or snowboarding there's a little bit here for everyone! Just don't forget to get some Houtou during the winter months to help warm you up!
The Primary Seasons of Yamanashi.
The main transportation in prefecture is by car so get your International Driver's Permit ready before your arrival! That being said, if you live in the Kofu Basin area you might be able to get around fine via bus or Train just fine.
We very famously do NOT have a Shinkansen, YET. Legend has it they've been working on a super secret tunnel through the mountains using super secret mag lev technology. Word's still out on it ever opening but reports say it might open in 2027. If you don't want to wait that long the Kaiji and Azusa express trains make trips from Shinjuku back into the prefecture very quick, and just as comfortable as a bullet train.
Major stations along the Chuo Line that the express trains stop at are Otsuki, Enzan, Yamanashi-shi, Kofu, and Nirasaki. Also, with express busses to anywhere in Japan leaving from Kofu Station every day, we hope you can enjoy your adventures in and around Yamanashi, as well as Japan, without breaking the bank!
Yamanashi also makes a nice central location for road trips where you can take either the IC (may be cheaper with an ETC card), or super-scenic-awesome local roads to the north or south of Japan. If you are down for a nice road trip rural conbinis usually allow overnight parking in their parking lots or you can plan some nice camping or hotel stays. Whatever floats your boat!
Driving in a foreign country can feel daunting when you first get here. Don't let it get you down though, it isn't quite as hard as it looks. You might find, like many of us, it's a pretty simple switch if you can just figure out the difference between your pesky blinker and whipers...
As far as getting a driver's license in Japan goes it can change a lot between prefectures. There's a high chance that your BOE will actually help with the driver's license switch but in the case that they don't the YETI council and friends have helped make a driving guide to help you out. Feel free to print it from the link out below!
|United States of America||We recommend checking out the Kumamoto JET Website for Tax questions. They upload a detailed Tax Guide for each year. If you've forgotten to pay your taxes the last couple years or weren't sure how to do it, it isn't too late to go ahead and submit your tax returns. Just fill out the forms and send them in as soon as possible.|
So you made it to Yamanashi! Welcome to the ‘Nash-tiest prefecture this side of Fuji or really anywhere. You’re in your new apartment and…wait a second…there’s nothing here! Or wait a second! There’s a bunch of stuff left by the ghosts of predecessors past and some of it looks a little sketchy. Or hang on just a daggum minute! You have some pretty okay stuff, but you’re not really feeling it and would like to have things that YOU chose. Where can you go to buy these hallowed trinkets? No fear, my friends, for Yamanashi has many an awesome recycle shop (thrift store) and home goods store. Of course if you've got time and are looking for the most money for your old items nothing is stopping you from throwing some pictures into the YETI facebook group where our local recycle-holics lie in wait! Who knows maybe you can find a sick deal from a fellow Yetizen yourself!
Your best bet for buying or selling cheap stuff in Yamanashi is through your local Off Chain store! Each one deals in separate items but between all of them you'll be hard pressed not to find nice gently used items at your price point.
If the Off Chain Stores don't quite have what you are looking for, don't forget to check out some other shops such as Mandai Shoten (honestly worth a look regardless of if you are shopping for something or not), or Gorillaz which both offer great deals on hobby items and general appliances that you might not find elsewhere
All of these are “home goods” stores. In Western countries, we often have one big store with home goods and groceries combined together (think WalMart or Target-type places). Here in Japan, stores are usually separated into “grocery stores/supermarkets” and “home goods stores.” (think Home Depot, for all you Americans). Home goods can carry snacks, drinks, and some basic food items, though. These are the places to find cleaning supplies, trash bags, light bulbs, lace doilies, futons, electronics, toilet paper, kitchen stuff, etc. Basically, you need to clean your house cause it’s gross? HOMES GOODS STORE! You need to buy a fresh new futon and some cute-ass flower sheets? HOME GOODS STORE! You need a couch to sit on but not actually purchase? HOME GOODS STORE. Nitori is on the higher end of these stores, but it’s also quite affordable. Think slightly cheaper IKEA-style stuff. And they have furniture. That will make you throw up from the price for now but later, when you’ll have money, it might not! And they deliver! Just remember to consider how you might go about getting rid of said item if you need to leave.
100 yen stores are basically life. Who doesn’t love going into a 100 yen store and coming out with things you never knew you needed until you saw them? You don’t even LIKE kitchen sponges, but they were 100 YEN! And they’re in the shapes of sea creatures! AND THEY LOVE YOU!!! If you can’t find something at a home goods store or if it’s more than what you want to pay, check a 100 yen store. Yes, the quality can be cheaper, but it’s usually decent. 100 yen stores also carry lots of seasonal and holiday items, which can be good for home décor or that English board you plan to start someday.
This store deserves a category of its own! Although you might lose your mind once you enter Donki! This is the super-awesome and kind of literally insane store in Isawa-onsen on Route 20 near the Round One arcade or the new MEGA DONKI on route 20 near Showa. Smelling of roasted sweet potatos year-round, Don Quixote is a grocery store, a home goods store, an electronic store, a drugstore, and a “that’s a weird but I still want it” store. Which is the entire store itself. They have everything you will probably ever need in life for decent prices. Also, they have the BEST selection of Japanese snacks, drinks, and booze. Whatever you need, you can find it at Don Quixote.
Additionally, we have two malls in Yamanashi. The most central is Aeon Mall (home to Toho Cinemas, the only movie theatre in ALL of Yamanashi) in Kofu-Showa. It was expanded in late 2017 so it has a ton of new stores plus all of the great old ones! The other mall is Laza Walk in Kai City. Smaller but with a Uniqlo and a KFC and easily accessible from the station. Both malls have stores for home goods as well as clothing and groceries. Apita Shopping Centers host Apita grocery stores. The Apita Center near Aeon Mall even has a DAISO, a McDonald’s, and a Starbucks all in the same buildings. What better way to spend the day?
Don’t worry about finding things for your apartment. There are plenty of places in Yamanashi for you to buy things. You can find stuff to suit many tastes and budgets. There’s always the YETI Facebook page where people often sell things they don’t want or need. Feel free to post your own things there! Also, in the fall, we will be having a YETI Yardsale, where Yamanashi senpais will be selling their wares for cheap prices. Happy apartment’ing!
The top three banks in Japan are Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan Post, and Mizuho Bank. In Yamanashi, our main bank is the Yamanashi Chuo Bank. Your contracting organization will usually take you within your first few days to your local branch to make a bank account, and you usually don’t get to choose which bank you set up with. Your account will most likely be a basic savings style account. You’ll receive a cash card to use at the ATMs/cash points to withdraw cash, as well as a bank book after signing up. Your cashcard may look like a debit card, but it does not work like a debit card (sad)! This bankbook may seem old fashioned, but it is very important and very useful! You can insert your bank book into any regular old ATM, and it will update your bankbook with all of your transactions since the last time you updated it. Even if last time was three years ago! You can also do money transfers (りみ), deposits(けれ), and withdrawals (きし) via ATMs. This may sound strange, but be sure to check your local Chuugin’s ATM service hours. Japanese ATMs apparently have families to go home to, and can close as early as 6pm. You can still withdraw and make deposits at local convenience store ATMs, but a ¥208 service fee will be charged.
Additionally, Sony Bank recently made headlines in making banking more accessible for foreigners. While it's a relatively new bank it is worth checking out as they have many features that you might be hard pressed finding at other banks.
We recommend keeping your bank account in your home country while you’re in Japan. Most of us with debts back home have to send money every so often, and it’s easier to have that bank account already in place. If you haven’t already, check to see if your bank can receive overseas wire transfers ()and if they charge a fee ()to receive the money. Certain banks, like Military banks, often have no wire transfer charges, so it may be better to use a trusted family member’s or friend’s account instead. Online banking is a great way to manage your accounts back home. You can sign up for TransferWise or GoRemit, which are services that will send your money to your home country’s account for a fee. As of 2016, you need your “My Number” card to send money, so remember to ask your supervisor about it. For a fee, you can easily send money home whenever you want. You can also send money through Japan Post Bank. Beware, however, that JP Bank has detailed forms to fill out for this every time you do it, their fees are slightly higher, and the money takes longer to get to your account. They also close at 4:30pm, so you’ll have to take some time off to go to the bank.
Your CO or supervisor should take you to get a phone or SIM card soon after your arrival. The big-name phone companies are AU, SoftBank, and Docomo. However, there are also cheaper options available through stores like BicCamera, Y!Mobile, Sakura Mobile, etc. However, you need to keep the following things in mind before you decide to commit to a two-year phone contract.
You may find that the best option for you is to pick up a secondhand phone from a local hardoff and to use an MVNO carrier. There are a lot of options so don't feel pressured to pay an exorbitant amount on phone data.
Talk to your pred, ALTs living in your area, or your supervisor/neighbors about what companies they use for internet. Though it will probably be some combination of NTT, Flets Hikari and Asahi. Alas, you will have to sign a new contract with your internet network and service providers under your own name. They will provide you with a modem. If you can, you can buy a router off of your pred (if you have one). If not, most electronics stores like BicCamera, K’s Denki, Yamada Denki, etc. have them available for around ¥5000 and up. It’s also possible to set up your internet through an electronics store, though you might not have one nearby. It takes a few weeks after arrival to set up the internet in your apartment, so be prepared to wait. It also requires several phone calls, in Japanese, to set up. So get your supervisor or a local Nihongo master to help you if you aren’t confident on the phone in Japanese just yet. BBApply.com is a service offered in English that can guide you through the process.