My first few days in the city is set for the boring legal works to be considered as a registered Alien or registered resident of Nishinomiya. Good thing that most documents were filled up by Aki-san, Katsube-san and Katsura-sensei or else I will be in deep trouble. All documents are in Japanese and my knowledge of the written language is close to zilch.
(Some of the information I doodled for my own privacy :p )
Alien Registration Card – for any foreigners staying more than 90 days in Japan, they are required to acquire an Alien Registration Card. It is a must for any gaijin! Seasonally, police officers will randomly request foreigners for this identification. And if you are caught without this card, you will face some serious problems. And of course, even though you legitimately entered their country, you are required to bring this card with you all the time.
The initial process takes about an hour or less, it took us around 2 hours because there were 7 of us. The processing of the card itself will take about a month before release. For now, I carry my green Alien Registration Certificate and my claim form everywhere I go (well, not everywhere).
National Health Insurance – Another must if you wish to stay for a long time. You can either have your own travel insurance, like Blue Cross, or in my case, I got myself a National Health Insurance for several reasons. The condition for the use of this card is 70% of the total bill will be shouldered by this said insurance while 30% will be your own expense. Not the best deal but not bad as well, this insurance only costs around 18K yen, roughly 9K pesos.
The card will be given immediately after application.
Hanko – Hanko is your own personal seal, much like a signature but in Japanese characters. Mine is my first name. It is not really necessary for foreigners to have one. Our usual signature is accepted. However in some instances, having your ownhanko is perceived to be a more formal agreement or consent. I was so excited to use mine during the Alien Registration application, however, the man assisting me insisted he do it himself. Bleh :p But it’s super cool to have one still. Hehe.
Bank Account – I opened my own bank account. I don’t really trust banks, but the hell, everyone opened one! At least I can legitimately say that I am part of the Japanese economy, other than being a consumer. This will make transferring money (as if!) easier. I can try to save too (try is the operative word) :p Here is an image of my passbook (old school!) :p
Fire Insurance – Other than the usual National Health Insurance, my apartment as Japanese society requires has it own fire insurance. This will, somehow, shoulder some of the potential natural hazards or accidental events that my apartment may encounter. This somehow covers some of the liabilities, unless the insurance won’t cover it. Yay! I hope nothing will ever happen to the apartment 🙂
Now, this next part is some proof that I am now part of the foreign international student community. Obviously, not every foreigner is required to have one. It depends on what’s the purpose of your stay.
My Student ID – If I could have known that they will use the photos I sent them as my ID picture, I could have produced a better one. Heh. I look like a boy in this picture. Partnered with a blue blazer and blue polo shirt, I look like a boy! Bleh! Good thing I don’t need to wear them everyday. Hihi. The ID looks oddly cheap for Japan. I would expect a more computerized, not hand-written, PVC (ehem! excuse friendly activists!) and not laminated ID. Oh well, at least I’m minimizing toxics pollution. Hehehe.
Library Card – See! This one is better, although still hand-written like my ID. It also have the school name and logo in it! How come?
Cultural Pass – As a student, I am (almost) free to enter museums, galleries and cultural sites within Hyogo Prefecture. Yey! I just need to show them my cultural pass and my student ID. Can’t wait to go around and learn more about the Japanese culture!
I am suppose to get a mobile phone as well (to complete the Japanese experience), but the plans are so confusing and rarely can I find a customer service assistant that can speak English. So I can’t really understand the whole deal. I opted not to get one since I am mostly online and good thing I have Chikka account. I can send SMS using this software in the Philippines free of charge. I hope I won’t be having communication problems here though :p
So there, now I am really part of the Japanese society. I am now a Registered Alien, with adequate health and fire insurance, I set up my own bank account, I have my school identification. I am set to become a full blown gaijin grad student! Yehey!