Sapporo Life Orientation for Foreign Residents NEW
We hold a life orientation for foreign residents living in Sapporo. (This orientation will be held in spring and fall.)
Would you like to meet up with Sapporo citizens while getting helpful tips for living in Sapporo and having fun?
"How can I call an ambulance?"
"What should I prepare for an earthquake?"
"I want to know what the rules are to separate the garbage!"
Staff and volunteers of SICPF will present you with helpful living information both in simple Japanese and English.
- Although this orientation focuses especially on newcomers who have just started living in Sapporo, anyone will be welcome if you want to talk about Sapporo life with other citizens.
Sapporo Life Orientation for Foreign Residents <2023・Fall>
Dates：2023/10/7 (Sat) 11:00-1:00
Language： Simple Japanese, English
Place：Sapporo International Communication Plaza(MN Bldg., Kita 1 Nishi 3-3, Chuo-ku)MAP
Target： Foreign residents living in Sapporo（especially those who have just moved into Sapporo）
Fee：Free of charge
Application: We accept online applications via following link
Renting a house or apartment
When renting housing in Japan you may encounter unique business practices and living rules.
- Living and Work Guidebook for Foreigners: Housing(Immigration Services Agency of Japan)
Rental housing in Japan
Private rental housing
Private rental housing (chintai jutaku) refers to houses, apartments and other condominium units for rent. Most rent is prepaid every month. Some housing requires extra fees such as maintenance fees and common area fees in addition to rent, which are paid together with the rent. Those who wish to live in rental housing can find a place through a real estate agent (a business introducing houses and apartments).
- Apartment Search Guidebook (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and Japan Property Management Association)
- Guide for renting foreigners(Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and Japan Property Management Association), Japanese
- Assistance with facilitating occupancy by non-Japanese nationals(Japan Property Management Association)
Hokkaido government registers real estate agents and organizations that proactively help foreign nationals rent private housing as Hokkaido Foreign Resident Supporters.
Hokkaido Foreign Resident Supporter System (Hokkaido government)
Public subsidized housing
These housing units are provided by the City of Sapporo, Hokkaido government or the Urban Renaissance (UR) Agency. Applicants must meet certain criteria to move in. See the following webpages for information on the necessary criteria and vacancies.
- City of Sapporo (city housing): Sapporo Housing Management Corporation,Japanese
*City housing (City of Sapporo)
- Hokkaido government (prefectural housing): Hokkaido Housing Management CorporationJapanese
- Urban Renaissance Agency (UR rental housing): Hokkaido Housing Management Center
Sapporo International Student Center
This is a dormitory for international students owned by the City of Sapporo.
Address: 5-35 Toyohira 6-jo 6-chome, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo
Sapporo International Student Center
Lifeline utilities (water, electricity, gas)
To apply for or stop water service, submit an application by phone, by fax, or online. (To stop water service, an application must be submitted by at least five days in advance.)
When you apply for or stop water service (Sapporo Waterworks Bureau)
Paying your water bills (Sapporo Waterworks Bureau)Notifications, applications, inquiries: Waterworks Bureau Telephone Service Center, TEL: 011-211-7770
In case of problems (Sapporo Waterworks Bureau)
If your water does not run or does not stop, contact the relevant Water Distribution Management Section or the Telephone Service Center of the Waterworks Bureau.
Late-night, holiday, and after-hours contact:
Waterworks Bureau Telephone Service Center, TEL: 011-211-7770
During winter in Sapporo, tap water sometimes freezes and water pipes burst. If this happens, your residence may flood or cause problems for residents downstairs, and you may be liable to pay significant damages in addition to the cost of repairs.
Accordingly, when the temperature is forecast to fall below –4°C, when you will not be using tap water for many hours (e.g., because you go to sleep or you will be away on a trip), and when the temperature is below freezing for the entire day, be sure to turn off the main water valve and open the taps to drain water remaining in the pipes. Ask your landlord how to do this upon moving in. If a water pipe is frozen and water won’t come out, or if the pipe bursts, contact a designated water service installation works contractor for repair service.
Late-night, holiday, and after-hours contact:
Waterworks Bureau Telephone Service Center, TEL: 011-211-7770
Applying for electrical service
To turn on the electricity, find the electric breaker switch panel (usually located near the front door or the lavatory) and flip the breaker switches up. After confirming that electricity is being supplied, fill out the application postcard attached to the breaker (e.g., with your name and address and the date you started using electricity), and post it. If you cannot find the application postcard, contact a local power company office.
Electric breaker switch panel
Hokuden Contract Center(Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Inc.), Japanese
Other electricity retailers
List of registered electricity retailers(Agency for Natural Resources and Energy), Japanese
Paying your electricity bills
Electricity is charged every month. Bills can be paid automatically using the account transfer systems provided by financial institutions, by using the payment slip to settle the amount at a financial institution or convenience store, or by credit card.
Changes in electric service contract and payment methodHokkaido Electric Power Co., Inc.), Japanese
Two types of gas are used in Sapporo: city gas provided through underground pipes, and LP gas (liquefied petroleum/propane gas) provided from compressed gas cylinders. Gas appliances vary by gas type, and using an incompatible type may result in fires and other hazards. Be sure to confirm what type of gas is used by asking your landlord or real estate agent.
To apply for gas service, contact a gas retailer before your move-in date and tell them your name, address, telephone number, the date you will need to start using gas, the desired time for service personnel to pay you a visit for installation, the model of your gas stove and method of payment. A service representative will visit the residence on the appointed date and time, and open the main valve.
- Kita Gas (Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd.) Customer Center(Japanese, English)
TEL：0570-008800 or 011-792-8110
- Online application (Japanese)
Other gas retailers
List of registered gas retailers(Agency for Natural Resources and Energy), Japanese
LP gas (propane gas)
LP gas (propane gas) is provided by many companies. If you live in a residence where propane gas is used, please contact the relevant company after asking your landlord or real estate agent for the relevant name and phone number.
Paying your gas bill
Gas is charged every month. Bills can be paid automatically using the account transfer systems provided by financial institutions. Alternatively, payment can be made at financial institutions, convenience stores or Kita Gas service offices, or by credit card.
Paying basic rates
Waterworks, electricity, and gas services require a payment of monthly rates (kihon ryokin) regardless of whether you use the services. If you contact your provider to temporarily stop such services when you leave for a long period of time, the bills may become significantly cheaper. Please contact your service providers for further information.
How to dispose of waste
Waste disposal rules
- Waste to be collected for a fee must be placed in the designated disposal bags, and waste to be collected free of charge must be placed in transparent or semitransparent bags. (Designated disposal bags are available for purchase at shops in the city, including supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, and do-it-yourself stores.)
- The waste put in the disposal bags must be placed at the gomi station (waste collection point) by 8:30 a.m. on the designated collection days, which vary by district.
- If you are unsure of waste collection days in the district where you live, check with the Sapporo Waste Segregation App, the Garbage & Waste Sorting Guide, or the Sapporo City Call Center.
Bulky waste is collected individually (a charge applies, telephone application required).
Designated disposal bag
- Sapporo Waste Segregation App (City of Sapporo)
This app (available in Japanese, English, traditional/simplifed Chinese, and Korean) allows users an easy way to look up waste collection days and proper sorting and disposal methods from a smartphone or tablet device.
- Garbage & Waste Sorting Guide (City of Sapporo)The Sapporo International Communication Plaza Foundation distributes brochures on waste sorting and disposal (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese) published by the City of Sapporo. These can also be viewed on the city’s website.
- Household Waste Collection Calendar (City of Sapporo) This district-specific calendar shows waste collection days. Its foreign language version is in Chinese, Korean, and Russian.
- How to dispose of household waste (City of Sapporo)
- Bulky waste (City of Sapporo)
- Disposal of large amounts of waste generated by a move or the like (City of Sapporo)
Usually, bank counters are open from 9:00 to 15:00 on weekdays and closed on weekends and national holidays.
Opening an account
To open an account, you will need a valid form of identification (e.g., passport, Residence Card), a personal seal*, My Number Notification Card and the like. For details, ask each bank. Some banks require a certain period of stay in Japan for foreign nationals to open an account. For details, contact the bank at which you would like to open an account.
*In Japan, people use a personal seal (inkan or hanko), carved with their given or family name, in place of a signature to authenticate documents. Some banks accept a signature in place of a personal seal.
You can remit money to another party’s bank account securely through a procedure at a bank. When you transfer money this way, you will need the name, address and telephone number of the recipient, as well as his or her bank name, branch name, type of account and account number.
You can also send money to overseas banks; ask at your local bank for details.
Using and operating automatic teller machines (ATM)
You can use your cash card at an ATM to withdraw and deposit cash, remit money and check your balance. Instructions on how to operate the ATM are provided on the display of the machine. These are usually in Japanese, but some ATMs provide English guidance. Many ATMs can also be used on Sundays and national holidays. Using an ATM on Sundays, national holidays or during nighttime hours may incur service charges.
Withdrawing cash using cards issued overseas
Cash can be withdrawn at ATMs using cash cards and credit cards issued overseas. Overseas cash/credit cards can also be used to withdraw cash at ATMs in some convenience stores. Some banks and post offices offer foreign currency exchange services.
- Living in Japan: How to Open a Bank Account and Send Moneybrochure in different languages (Financial Services Agency)
- Flier and communication board regarding opening of a bank account and the likein different languages (Japanese Bankers Association)
Mobile phone contract
You can sign a mobile phone contract at a mobile phone operator’s shop, a home appliance store and the like. When signing a contract, your identification must be verified. To verify your identification, you must present official documents (identification documents) that include your name, date of birth, and current address to the mobile phone operator or provide a copy of such information by mail or online. For details, contact each mobile phone operator.
The following is a list of valid identification documents:
- Residence Card;
- Driver’s license;
- My Number Card; or
- Passport (only when it states your current address).
If you are underage, your identification document and a consent letter from your parents or guardian are required.
For a bill payment, you need to prepare a credit card, a cash card for a Japanese bank or a bankbook for a Japanese bank.
Some mobile phone operators provide multilingual information online and at stores.
Warnings about signing up for and using mobile phone services
- There are malicious brokers who offer to enter into a mobile phone contract for you but use your identification information for criminal purposes.
- If you ask somebody to make a contract for you, check it yourself as well.
- It is prohibited by law to transfer a contracted mobile phone without the consent of the mobile phone operator. If you break this law, you will be prosecuted.
You may want to buy a SIM card in Japan to use your smartphone. SIM cards can be purchased at home appliance stores or via the internet. However, since there are various types of SIM cards in Japan, be sure to choose one that best suits your needs.
Chonaikai (community associations)
A chonaikai is a community association organized by local residents for the purpose of promoting mutual assistance and friendship in the neighborhood. Membership is optional. Associations are operated on a membership fee system, which varies by group. To find out about the enrollment method and membership fee, ask at the respective association. If you do not know the contact details for the association, inquire at the Liaison Center in your neighborhood or the Community Promotion Section of the ward office.
Sapporo International Citizen Partners (Sapporo International Communication Plaza Foundation)
The Sapporo International Communication Plaza Foundation (SICPF) widely recruits and accepts registration of foreign citizens who wish to utilize their own experience and cultural background to help make Sapporo an international and intercultural city. SICPF provides information to registrants or dispatches registrants to organizations that need the cooperation of foreigners and that request dispatch services.
Post office services
Post offices and mailboxes can be identified by the red ‘〒’ postal symbol.
- Domestic mail services(Japan Post Co., Ltd.)
- Domestic postal chargess (Japan Post Co., Ltd.), Japanese, English
- Postage price simulator(Japan Post Co., Ltd.), Japanese
Note: Special delivery
Urgent mail can be sent via special delivery, or sokutatsu, for an additional charge. This service can be requested at post office counters.
- International mail services (Japan Post Co., Ltd.)
- International postal charges (Japan Post Co., Ltd.)
- Express Mail Service (EMS)(Japan Post Co., Ltd.), Japanese, English
This international mail service is the fastest way to send items weighing 30 kg or less. Shipments can be tracked through the internet.
Home delivery service
In addition to post offices, there are companies that provide domestic and international parcel delivery services called takuhai-bin. Some convenience stores make arrangements with those companies and also accept parcels.
If a parcel cannot be delivered because you are out
If a courier cannot deliver mail or takuhai-bin parcels for which the recipient’s signature or personal seal is required because of absence, a non-delivery slip will be left. Call the number on the slip to request that the mail or parcel be delivered between specific hours on a particular date.
- Living and Work Guidebook for Foreigners: Daily rules and customs(Immigration Services Agency of Japan)
Joining events and seminars
Sapporo International Communication Plaza Foundation (SICPF) offers various kinds of seminars and events.
Information about events and seminars can be found on the SICPF website (International Community Bureau, ”Seminar/Event Info" page) and on facebook.
If you sign up for the Multilingual Newsletter service, you will receive information about seminars and events by email.
Sapporo International Citizen Partners (International Volunteer Network)
To help make Sapporo an international multicultural city, theSapporo International Communication Plaza Foundation (SICPF) recruits and registers foreign residents who wish to use their own experiences and cultural backgrounds, and dispatches registrants based on requests from organizations that require the cooperation of foreign nationals.
"M Square", located in the Sapporo International Communication Plaza, provides information related to daily life as well as sightseeing brochures.
Also, there is a bulletin board named "Message Board" so that the citizens can post information related to cross-cultural exchange.
※To prevent the spread of COVID-19, M Square is opened with limited operations.
Sapporo has distinct seasonal changes characterized by a refreshing summer climate and heavy snowfall in winter. Sapporo is the world’s only metropolis with a population of over one million that has an annual average snowfall of six meters.
In Sapporo, winter is a fun season full of events, including the Sapporo White Illumination and the Sapporo Snow Festival, as well as outdoor activity opportunities such as skiing and snowboarding. However, some weather conditions may cause icy roads, where you can easily slip and fall, and heavy snowfall that may leave vehicles stranded. Accordingly, you should check information on snow removal and other information necessary to lead a comfortable winter life.
- Winter life and snow removal(City of Sapporo)
- Snow removal needs index for the next morning(City of Sapporo)
- Winter rules and manners in Sapporo(City of Sapporo)
- Walk Smart website(Winter Life Promotion Council)
- Snow removal tips website(Winter Life Promotion Council), Japanese
- Winter Driving Preparedness (Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism), Japanese, Enlgish, Chinese
- Take Extra Care on Slippery Winter Roads(Hokkaido Prefectural Police)
- Freezing water pipes