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Guide for New Students at Hokkaido University


Part A: Tips for Newcomer

  • Things to do after arriving in Japan

  • Things to bring

  • Expenses

Part B. Additional Non-academic Information

  • Japanese language courses

  • International Student Center

  • Daily life

  • Accomodation

  • Registration as foreign resident

  • Procedure for bringing your family to Japan

  • Phone and mobile phone

  • Accessibility in Sapporo

  • Banking

  • Health Administration Center

  • Health Insurance

  • Travel Time

  • Car Rental

  • Air Tickets

  • Buses and Trains

  • Flea markets

PART A: Tips for Newcomer

Things to do after arriving in Japan

  • Meet with your advisor

  • Arrange for your accommodation (In case that you cannot get accommodation in a university dormitory, you should be able to find private apartment easily)

  • Open a bank account

  • Apply for alien registration card at the ward office

  • Apply for national health insurance at the ward office

  • Buy or ask from your friends things that you immediately need (just buy the urgent thing such as bed or blanket, its also good idea to visit flea market)

Things to Bring

  • Bring things for your daily use, personal documents and study materials etc.

  • The winter in Sapporo is very cold so please bring warm cloths while you can buy those things here also after your arrival. Comment: The students will arrive in October (not winter yet) it may be more advisable for them to buy winter clothes here. There’s also no guarantee that what they will bring will provide enough protection against cold. I think what they need to bring is for immediate use during the autumn (10-20C).

  • Those awarded with Japanese Government’s Scholarships will receive their first month scholarship a little delayed, usually in the middle of November for those coming in October so please bring enough money to cover expenses for this duration.

  • Please don’t bring the things that are prohibited in Japan as mentioned in the guidebook.

  • Please don’t bring beddings and blankets as you can buy those things here upon your arrival, you will find many options like 1st hand shops, 2nd hand shop, flea markets etc.

  • Bring materials concerning your research (especially books in English, English version software etc).

  • Do not forget to bring informational materials about Nepal if possible.


  • Probably you have already been informed that you will be provided with Monbusho scholarship. The total amount of scholarship is 184,000 yen (about $1,500). This amount is expected to be enough to defray all your expenses.

  • Your expenses obviously will depend on your marital status as well as your own lifestyle. The matter concern hereafter is for a single person.

  • The immediate expenses upon your arrival vary depending on whether you will be allocated a University accommodation or not. If you will be allocated a dormitory accommodation, it will considerably relieve you of many things, otherwise you will need to rent an apartment. You are supposed to be informed regarding the same within a couple of weeks before your departure.

  • The rent depends on the location, living space and other facilities, e.g. heating system (central, gas or kerosene), attached or common toilet & bathroom etc. It is significant to note that apartments near Hokkaido University are rather more expensive. The total cost to be paid for an apartment including all charges is approximately within the range of 35,000-50,000 yen.

  • At the beginning, deposit amount equal to the basic rent of one month as well as advance for a month should be paid. Moreover if you will be provided by an agent’s service for this process, you should pay an extra charge for the same. This means you should pay the amount approximately 60,000-100,000 yen.

  • Besides, you should buy some necessary goods for your initial settlement, for which you will need some amount.

  • Your first scholarship will be delayed due to some formal process (probably until second week of November), hence you should have some amount for your living expenses for this time duration, $1,000-$1,500 shall be enough for such purpose.

  • If you’ll be allocated a University accommodation, then you will get a room after your arrival. There’s no need to pay anything right upon checking in.

  • As far as the expense for foodstuff is concerned, it depends on you. There are several cafeterias inside Hokkaido University, where cost is considerably lower than outside. You can also prepare your food by yourself. The expenses may be within the range of 40,000-60,000 yen.

  • According to our experience, the amount of your scholarship is quite enough for your residence here and, thus, you do not need any support from your home.


PART B. Additional Non-academic Information

  • The university accommodation is provided for only one year. You can apply for the same every September and March.

  • During summer you can ride bicycle, however during winter it becomes inconvenient and even dangerous. So please consider this in deciding the location of your apartment.

  • Japan is a country with a high cost of living. Nonetheless, there are things you could find here that are not so expensive, particularly during occasional sales and flea markets. You will be provided with such information after your arrival here.

Japanese Language Courses: Even if you are attending study program in the English, you will need Japanese language for daily life. The best place to learn Japanese language and to meet foreign friends is the International Student Center (Ryuugakusei Center), which is located in the southern end of the university, you can see the campus map of Hokkaido University at

You can pick the necessary documents and registration forms for your Japanese language classes directly from the International Student Center. There are also other Japanese courses organized by Japanese volunteers. For details, see leaflets and advertisements accessible in the International Student Center. “What’s on in Sapporo” or “Handbook for Daily Life” handed out in the moment of registration in the ward office.

International Student Center: For general problems, the best place to contact is the International Students Center, where you can find people in charge like Professor Hiroshi Kanagawa, Professor Michio Yoneyama and Professor Michiko Seki.

Daily life: If you want to enjoy life in Japan and have more Japanese friends you can get useful information from the monthly brochure, "What's on in Sapporo" or “Xena”. You can also read from the information boards in the International Students Center or Sapporo International Information Plaza near the Clock Tower.

Accommodations: If you are not allocated the University accommodation, you can find the apartments from many housing agencies in Sapporo. The first agency that you should go is the university CO-OP, which can provide various kinds of apartment with cheaper commission fee. Examples of the agencies are JOG, BIG, etc.

There is also a good accommodation for foreign students in Toyohira Dormitory (Gakuen-mae). If they do not have any vacant room, they will help you find one in the city.

For the way to choose the location of the house consider following points:

  • Windows should face to the south (minami-muki) because your room will not be so cold in winter and not so hot in summer.

  • For easy going out in the winter, the house should be near the subway station (but it certainly makes your apartment more expensive).

  • Because of Sapporo winter it is better to choose concrete building rather than wooden one. Many old wooden houses in Japan have practically no insulation.

  • It is good to ask the owner of the apartment about a toyu stove. Toyu (kerosene) is incomparably cheaper than gas heating, hence more commonly used in Japanese households.  However some landlords ban this type of heating because of risk of fire.

  • Moreover, for the reason of comfort in winter it is better to have neighboring apartments on your sides and above you. It is warmer. Because of snow in winter it is also better to occupy a room on higher level than the first floor.

For the rental payment (yachin), you can also pay by transferring money to the owner’s account via ATM.

When you move, you have to inform the ward office and the bank where you have an account so as to make sure that mails addressed to your previous address will be rerouted to your new address. Drop by at any post office to fill-up the form for the change of mailing address.

Registration as foreign resident: As a person who will be staying in Japan more than 90 days (your visa status is "college student" and is valid for 2 years) you have to register at the ward office of the area where you live. This means that first you ought to have your own address in Japan. So after you have moved into the university accommodation or a rented a private apartment, go to the relevant district ward office to apply for your Alien Registration card. At the same place you can also apply for your Health Insurance; your tutor will help you to manage everything. You will be given a temporary document and will have to collect the Alien Registration Card during a certain period. Since you do not always carry your passport, the card is your most important document in Japan. You should carry this card all the time and show the same in many circumstances.

You will be asked by the Academic Affairs Office to pronounce your name so that they can write it down in katakana correctly. Keep a copy of your correct name in katana with you. You should at least practice to write your name in katakana and pay attention to have the same name written in all your documents, bank accounts, etc. Transcriptions made by many (too many) different persons often vary and it is troublesome to make corrections once everything is done.

Procedure for bringing your family to Japan: You will need some documents to get the Certificate of Eligibility to bring your family as dependent to Japan as follow:

  1. Alien registration card (this can be done parallel to the eligibility form procedure)

  2. Proof of your ability to support your family (a letter from university that shows you are receiving MONBUKAGAKUSHO scholarship).

  3. Certificate of university registration from the academic affairs office in the first floor.

  4. Proof of relationship (in English and your own language if different)

  5. Two photos (3 x 4cm) of your family members that you plan to bring to Japan.

Immigration office is located along Odori Street, Nishi (West) 11

Phone and mobile phone (keitai-denwa): If you want to have a landline, you should buy a line from NTT. It is cheaper to buy a used line (e.g. from a graduating student). Most of the students however use mobile phones since it seems to be a better option in their case.

There are many discount promotions from various mobile phone companies. You should buy your mobile phone unit at the mobile phone shop because in other places the mobile phone itself may not bet free (depending on the model).

There are many pre-paid international call cards with relatively cheap rates available at convenience stores and elsewhere. The rates differ from company to company and depend on which country you are calling. You should ask your senior for more information.

Accessibility in Sapporo:

  • It is easy to travel around Sapporo, since there are three subway lines in Sapporo, JR lines.

  • Except in winter, most Hokkaido University students use bicycles in their daily life.

  • Sapporo is a city where almost everything is nearby. Sometimes you need nothing more than a short walk.


  • There are not so many banks that Sapporo people use; they are Hokkaido Bank (Hokkaido-ginkou) and North Pacific Bank (Hokuyo Bank). For Hokkaido Bank, it is easy to open an account because they do not need your inkan or hanko (name seal).

  • Bank accounts in Japan are permanent. You do not need to close them when you leave.

  • You should also open the post-office’s account in case of traveling outside of Hokkaido because it is easy to find post-office’s ATM.

  • Japanese banks are opened for over the counter services from 9am to 3:00pm. (Post offices work generally till 5:00pm, but transfer of money is not accepted after 3pm.)

Health Administration Center: If you have any concern about your health, please contact the Health Administration Center. The university provides a physical check-up (free of change) for all students every year (April to June) at the Health Administration Center. The date for physical check-ups is assigned by the faculty and will be announced in advance. Subsequent to the physical examination, a health certificate will be issued if necessary. The certificate is necessary when you apply for the postgraduate program, scholarships, and for entering the dormitories etc. However, it will not be issued to students who missed regular physical checkup without legitimate reason.

Also if you submit your medical bill, after going to a doctor or hospital, attached to an application form to the office, you can get back up to about 80% of your bill.

Health Insurance:

  • When you go to a clinic or a hospital, you should bring your health insurance card (hoken) with you because the medical fees here are very expensive. You can save 70% of total medical fee when you show your health insurance.

  • Once you have your own address, your tutor will take you to the ward office to apply for your alien registration card and also health insurance card.

  • You can also join Hokkaido University Student Health Insurance Union. You just need to pay a membership fee and your medical expenses at the University’s Health Administration Center (concerning Internal Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery, Dentistry, Mental Counseling) as well as costs of your medicines will be paid for by the union.

Travel Time: Aside from studying, you can also enjoy many activities during your stay in Sapporo. Different seasons bring different activities, which will delight you all year round.

  • In autumn, you can enjoy the changing color of the leaves from green to red (kouyou) in campus and everywhere in Hokkaido.

  • In winter, you can cheer up your life with the winter sports. There are many big and famous ski area (ski-jou) such as, Kokusai, Rusutsu, Furano, etc.

  • In spring, there are many places to view Sakura (cherry-blossom).

  • In summer, you can enjoy many activities in Hokkaido such as rafting, hiking, mountain climbing, etc. Many flowers bloom such as lavender and sunflower in this reason.

If you want to enjoy your holiday or weekend you can get useful information on the notice board of ISC or Ryuugakusei center. Some organization, e.g. "House Friendship" often organizes tours and trips for foreign students for free or with minimal charge, while organization like HIPPO family organizes "home stay", etc.

In Hokkaido University campus, you can see beautiful nature in every season. If you plan to travel outside Japan, be sure to get a re-entry visa from the Sapporo Immigration Bureau first.

Car Rental: There are many rental car companies, which you can see from the CO-OP (seikyou) at Clark Kaikan. They have special offers for students. When you go to rent a car, you should ask about the insurance (hoken) covered by the company. Because some companies give you a cheaper price but the insurance is not all covered and you have to pay some amount in case of accident.

Air Tickets: You can also check the prices of airtickets at seikyou (CO-OP). There are many ticketing companies in Sapporo, too. Some ads are published in “Xena” – free English magazine which you can pick up at various places in Sapporo including International Student Center.

Buses and Trains: Generally buses are a little cheaper than trains, but trains are faster. To save time and accommodation cost, taking an overnight buses (e.g. from Sapporo to Hakodate) is sometimes a good alternative.

As a student you are eligible to discount tickets for JR trains. Student rate is 20% cheaper than normal fare but distance should be longer than 100 km. Before your planned travel you should take a certificate of your student status (from the automatic machine in the main lobby) and give it – showing also your student ID - to a cashier when buying a ticket. A certificate is needed for each purchase.

Flea markets: In Sapporo like in many other places all over Japan, there are numerous organized flea markets selling second-hand stuffs. Almost every Sunday there is some flea market somewhere in Sapporo. The most popular ones are in Nakajima-Koen (Park) and in winter, in Tsu-domu.

In October, "Hokkaido Woman Association" organizes a bazaar at Ryuugakusei Center. From there you can get very cheap dishes (some dishes are given free of charge), kitchen wares and home appliances, etc. You can get more information from Ryuugakusei Center.

Besides these information’s, you can find more information about life and study in Hokkaido University is the “Handbook For International Students”. You can find the same information in the universities website.

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Note: These tips were originally prepared by EGPSEE students, later it was modified for new comer Nepalese students.

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