Hiroshima is located in the west of Japan, situated in the Chugoku region alongside the Seto Inland Sea on the main island of Honshu. The area is known for its mountains, sea, and all the beauty and bounty both geographic areas provide. Hiroshima prefecture has over 2 million residents, half of whom live in the City of Hiroshima.
Ladies Clinic/Child Health=Yellow
It is Sunday and your schedule book is wide open… what to do? Lucky you are living in Kobe and there are a lot of options for you!
Kobe has boasted an aquatic museum since 1957 and today Aqualife Park is one of the largest in Japan. Over the years the presentation has developed into a bit of fish displays, a bit of aquatic theater and a bit of a theme park. The country’s first underwater tunnel was constructed in 2007 to enhance viewing of the marine wildlife. Special tanks enable the curious to touch sea turtles, fish and small sharks. The park amphitheater hosts dolphin shows and sea otter feedings. For the kids, a small amusement park serves up an electric train, a merry-go-round and a carousel.
There are only three designated Chinatowns in Japan and Kobe’s dates to 1868 when the country opened its ports to foreign ships and immigrants for the first time, including Chinese. Like most of the world’s Chinatowns, this is mostly a tourist confection for your Sunday stroll as you check in on over 100 Chinese restaurants and souvenir shops; street food is readily available. There are three ornate gates that mark the boundaries of Chinatown: Chang’an Gate in the east, Xi’an Gate to the west, and Nanlou Gate from the south. There is also a temple dedicated to the Han Dynasty warlord Guan Yu that is open for exploration.
These two seemingly disparate attractions share a building in the heart of Meriken Park but the connection soon reveals itself once inside. Shozo Kawasaki built a shipyard in 1896 for the purpose of launching ocean-going ships. The company was soon producing other means of locomotion as well, including Japan’s first metal aircraft in 1918. The first motorbike came along in 1954, called the Meihatsu. It wasn’t much but Kawasaki was soon churning out some of the world’s fastest motorcycles, including the ZZR-110, the fastest production bike anywhere for a period in the 1990s. These exhibits are for history buffs, gearheads and just admirers of beautiful machines.
A top choice for a family Sunday outing, the Kobe City Oji Zoo is the only place in Japan where you can see both a koala bear and a giant panda bear. There are 850 or so animals representing 150 species from all the world’s habitats. Suwako, a female elephant born in 1943, is Japan’s oldest pachyderm. There are plenty of cuddly animals to caress in the petting zoo and young children can board a train and ride a ferris wheel. At the Animal Science Pavilion, there are demonstrations, films and shows to help learn about the creatures.
Tucked into the shadow of the Rokko mountain range, this city district is where most of the foreign merchants and diplomats made their homes in the late 19th century when the Port of Kobe first welcomed outside trade. The newcomers constructed exuberant homes, known locally as Ijinkan. You can simply walk the pleasant neighborhood streets gazing at the mix of Western-style and Eastern-style mansions or tour some of the homes that operate as museums. There is also a diverse collection of eateries and boutiques to cap off a lazy Kobe Sunday.
As one of the three biggest Chinatowns in Japan, Kobe’s Nankinmachi Chinese New Year celebration is an experience you shouldn’t miss. The New Year Spring Festival, ‘Shunsetsu,’ has been held at Kobe Nankinmachi since 1987, and it is one of the port city’s liveliest events of the year. For around a week in February, the whole Chinatown area is bustling with activity and celebrations to ring in the new year. Whether you’re into parades, ritual dances, martial arts, acrobatics, or even just some authentic Chinese cuisine, there is certainly something for everyone during the festival.
This year, the date of the Chinese New Year is Monday, February 8th, but various performances and parades will also be happening throughout the days leading up to the 8th, so feel free to get started early! On the 8th, the celebration truly begins at 10:30 a.m. with a prayer for safety, and then the opening ceremony kicks the festival off at 11:00 a.m. After that, it’s full celebratory mode for Nankinmachi. Various cultural performances occur throughout the day at the center pavilion, which will be the main stage for the festival. Some performances include: lion dances, T’ai-chi, traditional music, and face-changing acrobatics.
The real highlight of the festival, however, is the historical personnage parade, where locals dress up in makeup and clothes from the Beijing Opera. The presentation of these colorful characters and their intricate floats occurs after the opening ceremony on February 8th. Don’t worry if you miss the first presentation, though, as the parade occurs once more in the evening of the same day starting between 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. The colorful parade passes through Nankinmachi and then moves on to Motomachi shopping street and Sannomiya center street, so there will be ample space to secure a good view of the presentation.
One of the most exciting aspects of this festival is how long it lasts. Things don’t calm down after the official day is over. Instead, the celebration continues with a new vitality in the days following. Throughout the week of February 9-11, prepare to get your fill of more traditional Chinese performances and experiences lasting from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Many local cultural exchange programs participate in the event, and they provide truly authentic performances. Don’t worry, if you get tired from an afternoon of lively shows, you can always take a break in one of Nankinmachi’s 100 different Chinese food restaurants and shops.
On the final day of the festival, February 11th, a lion dance marks the conclusion of the New Year’s events for 2016. The dance will be performed by two separate groups in the evening of the 11th. With multiple days and various events scheduled, Kobe’s Chinatown is a perfect place to get into the spirit of the Chinese New Year. Be sure to head over to Nankinmachi during the week of February 8th to experience any part of this exciting display of Chinese history and tradition.
Where: Nankinmachi a five minute walk south of JR Motomachi Station, Samaemachi-dori/Motomachi-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe (Google map)
When: Official New Year – February 8, 2016. Festivities begin February 5, 2016 and last until February 11, 2016. (Dates subject to change due to weather).
Telephone: 078-332-2896 (Nankinmachi Shopping District Promotion Association)
Official Website (Japanese): www.nankinmachi.or.jp/
Reference Website (English): www.jnto.go.jp/eng/…
By Ogiyoshisan (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Peace Memorial Park stands as a silent appeal for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and a plea for world peace. This part of Hiroshima was a bustling center of commerce for 240 years beginning in 1603 with a steady stream of goods arriving by boat on the Ōta River. In the Meiji era that took root in 1868 this urban district morphed into the political guts of the prosperous city. The Prefectural Office was built here and City Hall as well.
All that ended on August 6, 1945 when the world’s first atomic bomb was exploded directly over the Nakajima District.
By the summer of 1945 Germany and its European Allies had been defeated but Japan fought on. American leaders calculated that the only way to bring the war to an end in the Pacific was to invade the Japanese homeland at the cost of tens of thousands of Allied lives. The alternative was the A-bomb, untested in actual warfare.
Hiroshima was chosen as the target instead of Tokyo since the city had not yet been bombed so the damage caused by an atomic strike could easily be measured for its effects. Also, Hiroshima was populated with a high degree of intact military targets such as factories and concentrations of troops. The lives of an estimated 6,500 people in the blast zone of the Nakajima District were exterminated instantly; the war was over in days.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law was passed on August 5, 1949, the four-year anniversary of the destruction. The law stipulated that rather than being rebuilt, the Nakajima District would be forever more “peace memorial facilities.” Peace Memorial Park, created by Kenzo Tange who won a design competition, opened in 1954.
The grounds feature more than 50 monuments and memorials in the form of bridges and fountains and statuary. The A-Bomb Dome contains the wire framework of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall that was constructed in 1915. The atomic blast detonated almost directly overhead vaporized the building and all the people inside but the straight angle left some walls standing. The framework of the dome-shaped building has been preserved as the city’s most poignant symbol of the explosion.
On the south edge of Peace Memorial Park are a short parade of buildings that include the East Building and Main Building of the Peace Memorial Museum and the International Conference Center Hiroshima. The museum (a descriptive leaflet is available in ten languages) presents the history of Hiroshima and remembers the fateful bombing in exhibits, statistics and newsreel footage in this solemn site. The theme of the exhibitions is the city’s recovery and steps that are necessary for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.
Peace Memorial Park is open anytime to study and contemplate the monuments. Spring is a popular time to visit when the grounds are awash in cherry blossoms. The museum closes at 17:00 in the winter and 18:00 most of the rest of the year. Guided tours are given regularly for both the park and the museum.
By Rdsmith4 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
It does not take long living in Japan to get the feeling you are in the presence of our new robot overlords: vending machines. You encounter the retail dispensers everywhere. Ride the subway? There’s a vending machine. Take a walk in the park? There’s a vending machine. Go to the top of Mt. Fuji? There’s a vending machine.
Coin-operated vending machines were first seen in London, England in the 1880s and it did not take long for the technology to spread to Japan where cigarette dispensers have been reported from 1888. Today the country boasts over five million vending machines, about one for every 23 people which is by far the highest per capita rate of vending machines anywhere in the world.
The main reason that vending machines thrive in Japan is the low crime rate. The machines are almost never vandalized and that means they can be placed in remote areas with every expectation of securely conducting commerce for their operators. Everywhere in Japan becomes a retail opportunity. These machines are also a force for good. During the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 there were so many vending machines that they were able to provide on-site disaster relief to stricken areas. With a quick re-programming, the machines supplied over 100,000 free drinks.
So what can you find in all these vending machines? About half of Japan’s automatic vendors are dispensing drinks. But not just the familiar sodas. There are hot drinks as well. And sake and beer and cups of noodles and corn soup and drip-brewed coffee and…well, the list is almost endless. The fun is in the discovery. Here are just a few things you will find in the machines in your travels around Japan.
Fresh Produce. There are sealed packages of sliced fruits and vegetables but that is easy. There is also a machine that grows fresh lettuce under fluorescent lighting ready to be plucked for your dining table for a few yen coins. The machine has 60 heads of fresh lettuce ready every day.
Live Lobsters. Speaking of fresh, you can find a vending machine to give you access to a pool of live lobsters for 100 yen. A giant mechanical claw will pick out your dinner using directional buttons.
Clothing. Never fear for being caught without a necktie in Japan. You can get one from a vending machine. Socks and other sundries can be had as well. And to keep your clothes from getting wet, plop a few coins in the machine and get an umbrella.
Toys. Boxed toys such as cars and trucks and blocks are readily available from vending machines.
There is so much on offer from vending machines in Japan that you may have trouble making up your mind. The country’s engineers have you covered. There are even machines that will choose your beverage for you. Using a face recognition sensor the machine determines your gender and age – with 70 percent accuracy – and then delivers an appropriate beverage for the weather and time of day from a database loaded with consumer behavior buying traits. Welcome, our new overlords.
By Schellack at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Which is the best lord? Lord of the Flies? Lord of the Rings? Or Lord of the Dance? Silly question, I know, because it is obviously dance. There is nothing quite like putting on your dancing shoes and strutting your stuff, is there? Even if, like me, you have very little ‘stuff’ to strut.
If you, your spouse or children haven’t shaken a money maker or got down on it for some time, it could be that you are itching to get back into it, but feeling a little ring rusty. Or maybe you are just looking for something a bit different to do around Nagoya? If this is the case, why not try out one of these dance classes in and around Nagoya?
Started in 2006, Nagoya Swings is one of Aichi’s largest groups dedicated to the ballroom dance known as swing. They hold monthly workshops for dancers of all skill levels. While their primary focus is on the East Coast style of swing dancing, they also offer lessons in others such as Blues, Charleston and the Lindy Hop. They also host a number of dance parties throughout the year such as their Halloween and Christmas events. Their Nagoya Swings Live series is a great chance for dancers, rookie and veteran alike, to try out their moves to live music from local and touring bands. To celebrate their 10 year anniversary, they’ve got a lot of fun events and interesting workshops planned.
Closely related in genre to the Nagoya Swings guys are Lindy Hop in Aichi. Based in Kariya (just three stops from Nagoya on the JR Tokaido line), they focus mainly on Lindy Hop as well as Charleston with a bit of East Coast Swing and Balboa thrown in. Meeting at least three times a month including lessons, events and shindigs, it is open to absolutely anyone who wants to dance. There is no member system, meaning that whoever wants to – ahem – hop by is more than welcome. If you want to check it out, then why not head over for their next big event on March 20th, 2016.
If you are looking for something a little bit more along the lines of formal dance classes there is Studio Zoo in Sakae. In business for more than 20 years they claim (a little vaingloriously, perhaps) to be the pioneers of Nagoya’s dance movement, however with that kind of longevity they must be on to something. With all manner of dance genres to choose from, including modern dance and hip hop, there are many lessons for all age ranges conducted in English (and even French) with instructors who have studied around the world. In fact all classes – even with Japanese speaking instructors – are multilingual with directions and counts in English, so anyone can joinin the fun.
Or perhaps you want to get really serious about things. Avex Dance Master in Meieki are providers of official Japanese Street Dance Association (JSDA) lessons for not just lovers of dance, but those who see it with a view of advancing to a professional level. With classes for adults as well as children they offer a comprehensive curriculum from beginner to advanced level. Forms that are most extensively covered are hip hop and jazz, with five different courses to choose from. There is a free trial lesson, though it is conducted in Japanese.
‘Noh’ is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century, and the music and dance is quite instrumental to how it is performed. It’s safe to say that, should you take this course in Noh Odori (Noh dance) you’ll be one of the very few of your peers who can do it. While this isn’t a regular course – rather a two hour cultural experience – it would certainly be
a feather in your cap a bone in your beautifully decorated hand fan.
There are other dance classes available in and around Nagoya. Japan Info Swap contacted these below, however at the time of going to print they had not responded to enquiries as to whether there were English language classes. If you are interested feel free to contact them yourselves, and perhaps you will have better luck.
Image: facebook.com "photo" by Nagoya Swings (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) – Modified
If you’ve spent some time in Japan, you’ve probably come across more than a few of those small, round, brightly colored dolls that sit on shelves and stare at you from one or two white eyes. A bit unsettling at first, these legless, armless, “daruma” dolls are quite charming when their significance is considered. daruma dolls, also known as dharma dolls, are modeled after the founder of Zen Buddhism, and they have become coveted talismans of good luck in Japanese households. In addition to being good luck charms, the dolls also serve as reminders to remain steadfast and determined in pursuit of your goals. Their round, hollow design allows for these dolls to rock back upright if they happen to be knocked over; a physical embodiment of the famous proverb, “fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
Like many Japanese traditions involving good fortune, daruma dolls have their own exclusive, annual, celebratory event. In the early months of each year, daruma festivals are held in multiple cities across Japan, where people can buy their dolls for the new year. Traditionally, the dolls are sold with two white eyes, and once purchased, one of the eyes is painted black, and a wish or goal is inscribed on the backside of the doll. Until the goal is attained, the unfinished doll sits as a patient reminder to stay focused on the mission you set out to complete. Once that goal has been accomplished, at some point in the following year, the owner of the doll can finally complete the figure by filling in the second eye. Many Japanese households keep the dolls in their family shrines so that their goals and wishes can be reflected on daily.
The Mihara Shinmei-ichi Daruma Festival, in Hiroshima, is one of the largest festivals in Japan celebrating this tradition. For three days in February, the area surrounding Mihara station is crowded with 500 food stands and daruma doll shops, and the festival comes alive with activity. Thousands of people peruse the market stalls, trying out some notoriously-tasty Japanese festival food while they search for their perfect daruma doll. Besides the traditional doll styles, visitors can also purchase some modern variations in different shapes, colors, and even characters. Overlooking the main gate of the festival is the nation’s biggest daruma doll, weighing in at over 200 kilograms, that is kept on display throughout the event.
If you’re looking for something to do around Hiroshima in February, the Mihara Shinmei-ichi festival is an exciting option. The event is free to attend and offers fun activities to enjoy, such as karaoke competitions, haunted houses, and a market selling plants and shrubs in addition to the food and daruma dolls. Head over to the area north of Mihara station between February 12-14 and celebrate this traditional symbol of good luck and achieving your goals!
When: February 9,10,11, 2019
Where: The North side of Mihara station, 1-1-1 Shiromachi, Mihara-shi, Hiroshima-ken (Google map)
Reference Website (English): http://gethiroshima.com/event/mihara-daruma-festival/
Photo by Brücke-Osteuropa (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
To begin with the most basic, there are two major emergency numbers in Nagoya, Japan. Dialing 110 will connect you with the police, while 119 will connect you with the fire department in case of emergency, fire, injury or illness. If you need immediate emergency assistance, that is the way to get it. Emergency services suggest that you practice dialing emergency numbers before you need them. In a stressful situation, you will lose a lot of your coordination, and dialing will become difficult, let alone remembering the number in Nagoya. For your personal protection and safety, it is a good idea to pre-program those numbers into your phone and label them clearly as FIRE and POLICE. It may sound silly, but it will save you precious time when you, or someone else, really need it.
There are more English speaking doctors in private practice, clinics and large hospitals in Nagoya than you might think, but health care systems vary among countries, so even though your doctor speaks English it is a good idea to visit the clinic or hospital in your area prior to having an illness. This will give you a chance to check out the medical facilities in advance, get familiar with the registration process, and meet your doctor before the flu turns you into, well, a much less pleasant and patient person.
Notes Regarding This List:
Maps Outside Nagoya City
Ladies Clinic/Child Health=Yellow
The list below is dated. Our most accurate information is contained in the map above.
Specialization: General Practice (Internist, surgeon, obgyn,
pediatrician, ophthalmologist )
Address: 2-9 Taemi-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya
Location: Yagoto Nisseki Station on the Meijyo line
Hours: M-Sat 08:00-11:00
Appointment: Not Required
Specialization: General Practice (surgeon, internist, ophthalmologist, obgyn, dermatologist)
Address: 500-1 Ibobara, Jusui-cho, Toyota-shi
Location: Josui Station on the Toyota line, 5min by bus
Hours: M-F and 1st and 3rd SAT of the month: 8:00 ~ 11:30
Appointment: Not Required
Address: 5-8 Tanabedori, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya, Aichi
Location: 5 minute walk from Mizuho Undojo Higashi station on the Meijyo line
Hours: M-SAT 9:00-12:00 16: 19:00 W/SAT AM Only
Specialization: ENT (Ears Nose and Throat)
Address: 2-1310 Mukaigaoka, Tenpaku-ku, Nagoya
Location: Hirabari (Tsurumai line）
Hours: M-SAT 9:00-11:30 17: 19:30 W/SAT AM Only
Appointment: Not Required
Specialization: Pediatrics, Internal medicine, Surgery, Vaccination, Overseas Travel Clinic
Address: Nagoya-shi, Atsuta-ku, Kanayama-cho 1-503 Towa Kanayama Bldg. 6F
Location: Near Kanayama Station
Hours: M- FRI 8:30 to 12:00 / SAT -SUN 9:00 to 12:30 M- FRI 15:00 to 19:00 / SAT -SUN variable (Closed Thursdays and Sunday afternoons )
Specialization: Pediatrics, Allergy, Vaccinations
Address: Nagoya-shi, Naka-ku, Shinsakae 1-3 Hinomaru Nagoya Bldg. 3F
Location: Near Kanayama Station
Hours: M- SAT 9:15 to 12:30 /15:45 to 17:15 / SAT -SUN (Closed Sundays and Thursday and Saturday Afternoons )
Address: Nakamura Ku, Meieki Minami, 1-17-25 Astor Building 6F
Location: Near Nagoya Station
Hours: M,T, TH, F 10:00-1:00 14:00-18:00 (closed weekends and Wednesdays)
Address: Meitetsu Kanayama Dai 1 Bldg. 3F, 25-1 Namiyosecho, Atsuta-ku, Nagoya
Location: Kanayama Station on the Meijyo line.
Hours: T-SAT 10:00-12:00 13:00-17:00
Address: 468 – 0056, Nagoya, Aichi Tenpaku District Shimada 2-811
Location: Near Tenpaku Ward Office
Hours: 09:00-12:00 16:00-19:00 Closed Thursday & Saturday afternoons, Sundays, and public holidays
Address: 1-1417 Shin Bunkyodai, Meito-ku, Nagoya
Location: 15 min walk from Kamiyashiro Station on the Higashiyama Line.
Hours: MTW, F 9:30 – 12:30 14:30 – 19:30 S 14:30 – 19:30
Address: 7-5-10 Fujiyama-dai, Kasugai
Location: 10 min walk from JR Kozoji Station
Hours: MTW, F 9:30 – 12:00 14:00 – 19:00 S 14:30 – 19:30
Appointment: Not Required
Address: 462-0843 Nagoya, Kitaku, 田幡2-5-12
Location: Kurokawa Station on the Meijyo Line
Telephone: (052) 912-8418
Hours: MTW, F 9:00 – 13:00 15:00 – 19:00 S 9:00 – 13:00 15:00 – 17:00
Appointment: Not Required
Address: 460-0008 Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi, Naka-ku, Nishiki, 3 Chome−24−24 11 Floor
Location: Sakae Station on the Hisyaodori and Meijyo Lines (above the Outback!)
Hours: MTWTF AM 10:00 – PM 1：00、PM 2：00 – PM 7：00, S AM 9：30 – PM 1：00、PM 2：00 – PM 4：00
Please note that this list is supplied for reference only. This list does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of the providers.
Ladies Clinic/Child Health=Yellow
A Japanese rental contract will usually stipulate that the lessee is to enroll in an insurance policy. Despite being one of the world’s biggest markets for insurance, the selection and range of insurance products available in Japan is actually quite limited. Home insurance policies tend to include a degree of coverage for a wide variety of eventualities, but often lack the ability to customize often found in other countries. The cost of a policy is typically in the region of JPY 20,000 to JPY 40,000 for two years, but can be higher depending on the value of home contents to be insured.
The cost of an insurance policy is primarily determined by the amount of coverage that is required for home contents. Rather than setting the amount based on your own estimate of the value of your belongings, it is necessary to choose from a range of predetermined values. As a default this type of insurance only includes a limited amount of coverage for valuables such as jewelry, artwork and collectibles (usually up to JPY 300,000 per item), but it can be possible to register such items when making the policy in order to be eligible for greater coverage. Portable items such as mobile phones, cameras and bicycles are usually exempt from coverage.
If you opt to include earthquake insurance, this will cover between 30% and 50% of the amount that was set for the home contents. Therefore if you have selected JPY 5,000,000 as the amount of coverage for your home contents, the amount of coverage for damage to your belongings sustained in an earthquake will a maximum of JPY 2,500,000. The reason for this difference is that earthquake insurance is guaranteed by the government, which has calculated that this is all that can realistically be covered in the event of a major earthquake.
This covers liability incurred towards the landlord for damage caused to the property either deliberately or through negligence on the part of the tenant or a person related to the tenant. An example would be a fire caused by an unattended pan on the stove. Depending on the policy this is either a fixed amount or can be adjusted in line with the perceived value of the property.
This covers losses and injury caused unintentionally to third parties both in and outside the rental premises (with the exception of accidents involving a motor vehicle). This could be used if you are required to pay compensation in the event of an accident while riding a bicycle, or if a child causes injury to another person or their property while playing. Having insurance which includes this type of coverage is highly recommended. If you are involved in an accident whereby someone is injured and there is a suggestion that you were at fault, you will very likely need to pay some compensation to help cover medical costs.
While companies will often take out insurance to cover their own potential liabilities as the lessee (in cases where the contract is signed by the company), this will not always include adequate coverage for home contents, nor will it necessarily include any personal liability coverage. In such a case you are advised to take out some insurance separately to cover your own needs. Relo Japan can help you with this.
Japan has three main mobile communication networks, NTT Docomo, KDDI/au and Softbank, and the majority of newcomers to the country will find themselves making a contract with one of these companies. They follow each other very closely in terms of plans and prices, with Softbank being the most popular among the foreign community due partly to its greater focus on providing customer service in English.
A typical mobile phone contract in Japan includes unlimited domestic calls and a fixed amount of high-speed data as chosen by the customer. The phones themselves are often heavily subsidized, as a result of which the cost to the customer of the phone itself can be very low depending on the model (provided that the contract is not terminated too early).
To give an example, a 64 GB iPhone 6S on a plan with unlimited domestic calls and 5GB of data costs around JPY 9,500 per month, of which only about JPY 1,500 is payment for the phone once the relevant discount is applied. It should be noted, however, that the iPhone is the most heavily subsidized phone, while the discount offered on some other popular devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy, is often considerably smaller. There can, however, be large variations between the different networks, so it pays to shop around if you want a particular phone.
Contracts are normally for a period of two years and renew automatically. With the exception of a transition window of one month between contracts, it is necessary to pay a fee of around JPY 10,000 per line when cancelling a contract, as well as the remaining unpaid monthly installments for the handset (which are, by the way, no longer subject to a discount).
Terminating a contract for a 64GB iPhone 6S after twelve months, for example, would cost in the region of JPY 60,000, although the phone itself is yours to keep. A welcome change that recently came into effect means that carriers have to unlock devices if so requested by a customer who has been using the phone in question for at least six months. This means that it is now possible to take your phone with you when you leave Japan and continue to use it.
In general the answer to this is no, but it depends on which phone you plan to get. If it is a heavily subsidized phone like an iPhone and you plan to make a contract with one of the big three networks rather than using one of the cheaper SIM-only services, then we do not recommend buying a new one before relocating for the simple reason that you will end up paying significantly more overall by doing so.
In addition, care needs to be taken to ensure that any phone you bring with you can actually be used in Japan, as some of the frequencies used here are not commonly used elsewhere, and phones not specifically designed for use in Japan may not be able to receive all of the frequencies required to be fully functional. Generally, any iPhone 6 or 6S is compatible with the frequencies used in Japan, and many earlier models can also be used here.
In the case of Android phones, however, things become more complicated, and many models sold overseas will only be partially functional due to lack of compatibility with all of the necessary frequencies.