Top tips for moving to Tokyo

21 Sep 2011

Moving to Japan’s capital and largest city can be exciting, but it might also be challenging to settle in because of the language barrier. This week, our guide offers information that can help make your relocation to Tokyo a more seamless one.




Getting a long-stay visa for Japan can take a while, but a short cut would be to first obtain a “Certificate of Eligibility” (COE) from the immigration bureau of the region you intend to settle in. You may do so with the help of the company or office you will be working for, through relatives in Japan, or by hiring the help of a local lawyer. It takes anything from one to three months for this document to be processed but after that, it’s only another week to get the visa. Bring the COE to your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate along with your passport, the application form and a photograph to get the visa, which will be valid for 6 months to 3 years depending on the circumstances of your stay. Upon receiving the visa, you have to enter Japan within a three-month time frame.

This visa is different from a tourist visa, which is much easier to apply and usually valid for three months. 

For more information, visit




Relocation and moving companies

  • Tokyo Worldwide Agency Relocation

With a broad range of services, this company offers an orientation package, house-hunting package, settling-down package, as well as additional options such as car rental support and airport pickup. Services can also be customised. If you are unsure of what package fits your relocation needs, contact +81 3 6273 0183 for a free consultation. For further information, visit

  • Tokyo Orientations

This organisation assists relocating expatriate families with a slew of services, including a pre-move packet, furniture lease and purchase, pre-school and international school visits, a housing locator, settling-in services, after-arrival information packet, as well as ongoing support programmes and assistance. Visit or call +81 3 6821 7010.


Supermarkets with imported foodstuff

  •  Nissin World Delicatessen

Located near Hiroo Station and open 365 days a year from 0900 to 2100, this international supermarket is known for its wide selection of meat. Its Meat Rush section offers chilled meat from the US, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as ham and sausages. It also has a “World Wide Wine” floor, which is dedicated to fine drops from different parts of the world. For more information, visit

Location: 2-34-2 Higashi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo


  • National Azabu

This store features a wide selection of seafood, fresh meat, vegetables, confectionaries, and wines. For added convenience, online shopping and delivery to selected areas as well as English-speaking staff to take your orders are also available. If you expect to need to do a lot of shopping for a long period of time, it might be worth considering the Point Card membership for special prices and privileges. To find out more, visit

Location: 4-5-2 Minami Azabu, Minato-Ku,Tokyo



Medical services

  •   Tokyo Midtown Medical Centre

An outpatient care centre located in the heart of Tokyo’s Roppongi district, this facility offers services such as health checks, dermatology, and ophthalmology, among others. Health reports can be furnished in English. Visit

Location: Midtown Tower 6F, Akasaka 9-7-1, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 107-6206

  •   Tokyo British Clinic

Located a short walk away from Ebisu and Daikanyma stations, the clinic provides 24-hour coverage and house calls. Consultations with a native English-speaking doctor can be requested. Visit

Location: Daikanyama Y Bldg. 2F 2-13-7 Ebisu-Nishi Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0021 


Educational Facilities

  • Tokyo International School (TIS)

Students at TIS are guided through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) and Middle Years Programme (INMYP). The school adopts a 21st century education model, where students learn within a project-based curriculum. Every student also has access to computers and iPads. Visit, or call +81 3 5484 1160.  

  •  NIC International College in Japan 

The college offers an English curriculum and general college courses. Activities run by the college include summer programmes in the US and UK. Visit, or call +81 3 5379 5551.  


Domestic help / housekeeping

  • Chez Vous

The domestic staffing consultancy offers a line-up of services that include housekeeping, babysitting, full-time placement, house cleaning, handyman service, and others such as balcony and garden cleaning.  The agency’s main clients include expatriate families, company executives, single professionals and working couples. Visit for more information.


Driving license

International driver’s license can be converted to a Japanese licence. Foreign drivers who seek to drive in Japan for more than 12 months have to obtain a Japanese driver’s licence. To convert a valid foreign driver’s license, a Japanese translation of the license must be obtained from the native country’s Japanese embassy or the Japan Automobile Federation ( Applicants have to be 18 years or older.

Tiffany Sandrasageran

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