Sapporo Life Orientation for Foreign Residents 

We hold Sapporo Life Orientation for Foreign Residents in spring and fall every year.

"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!"

Helpful living information will be presented both in simple Japanese and English. 

There will time for participants to interact each other and Sapporo Clock Tower Tour after the orientation.

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 <2024・Spring> 

Dates:April 13, 2024  (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: Please sigh up from the form.  



Renting a house or apartment

When renting housing in Japan you may encounter unique business practices and living rules.

 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).

Hokkaido government registers real estate agents and organizations that proactively help foreign nationals rent private housing as Hokkaido Foreign Resident Supporters.

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.

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

TEL: 011-817-3615

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

Be careful of freezing water pipes

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.

Waterworks Bureau

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
TEL: 0120-12-6565

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.

City gas

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.

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.

Waste disposal

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.
iphone Android


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.

Remitting money

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.


Mobile phones/smartphones

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.

SIM cards

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.


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.

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. 

Gathering information

Sapporo City’s official LINE

Once you register Sapporo City’s official LINE, you will obtain various information, from important announcements including disaster information to events information on your interested feilds.

[Languages (Auto-translation)] English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Tagalog, Nepali

[How to use] 

① Register as a LINE friend.
②Select “受信設定Reception Settings” from “お役立ち Useful info” at the bottom of the chat screen
③Select a language from “言語設定 Language Settings”
④Continue to select the ward you live in, interested feilds and so on.

“Koho Sapporo”

You can read Sapporo City’s monthly PR magazine “Koho Sapporo” in various languages using the e-book service “Catalog Pocket”. There is also a voice reading service for various languages.

[Languages] Japanese, English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean, Thai, Portuguese, Spanish, Indonesian, Vietnamese

M Square

"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.

Sapporo Municipal Central Library

Sapporo Municipal Central Library has a collection of books and picture books in English and Chinese, and anyone residing in Sapporo City may borrow them for free.

Please see the website of Sapporo Municipal Central Library for details.

Winter life

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.