Nobody likes paying bills, but paying your bills in a foreign country can be pretty scary. That’s why, the first time I got (what I thought was) a utilities bill in the mail, I frantically called my boyfriend, Ryosuke, to have it explain it.
Paying for anything in Japan can be a little confusing. Most restaurants or shops don’t accept credit cards. I have to pay for my apartment by an automatic bank transfer each month; I have my land-lady’s bank routing and account number. In fact, the dorms at ICU also make you pay by automatic bank transfer (in a very confusing fashion, several of my friends have already started to freak out about it a little bit).
So I couldn’t imagine what kind of horrors accompanied paying my electric, gas, and water bills.
But it turns out that my fears were unfounded. Paying utility bills is remarkably easy in Japan.
Paying Bills in Japan
1. Wait for the 検針票(kenshinhyou) to arrive in the mail for each utility. This isn’t actually the bill, though, so watch out. You cannot pay this. Instead, the Kenshinhyou is a “notice of payment” or a receipt that shows you, for instance in my water kenshinhyou, exactly how much water I spent. They typically arrive at different times, somewhere around the middle of the month – over the span of about a week.
But like I said before, the Kenshinkyou is not actually a bill. You can’t pay it. For instance, these are my three Kenshinkyou’s that I got in the mail (I send this picture to Ryosuke, so he could figure out when I had to pay by). I used 664¥ worth of gas, 1,481¥ worth of electricity, and 1,111¥ worth of water. So in total, about 40 dollars, which isn’t horrible.
2. Wait for the actual bill to arrive in the mail. Now that you know how much you have to pay, wait about a week (sometimes a little more) for the actual bills to arrive by post.
Interestingly enough, I didn’t have to pay my gas bill (about 8 dollars) because they said it was too low. With gas, they compound your fee until it reaches over 1,500¥ worth of gas. So theoretically, I might not get charged next month either – if I take really short showers and don’t use hot water at all. Hmmmm…
3. Once all your bills have arrive, got to the convenience store, 7-11, to pay. You can also pay at Lawson’s or most other convenience stores, but I like to use 7-11 for everything. It’s close and it’s reliable.
4. Take your bills to the register and pay. You can also buy food. For instance, this time we also got some BBQ potato chips for our How I Met Your Mother marathon tonight. They will stamp your bill, rip off part of it to keep, and give you the other half as proof of purchase.
(what they gave me after I paid)
See? Wasn’t that easy? If only I could actually pay for my apartment the same way…
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