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The busiest moving season in Japan and tips and advice on apartment moving

February and March is the busiest moving season in Japan as Japanese school year and hiring of new employees begin in April. Moving is Hikkoshi 引越し in Japanese, and the Hikkoshi moving is usually done by a professional moving company (Hikkoshi Gyousha 引越し業者) who will be at the busiest in March. If you are planning to move in this season, it is better to take a quick action and avoid preparing things at very last minutes.


Apartment moving in Japan

Apartments available in Japan are usually not furnished. There are furnished apartments in urban areas, but still not many. In most cases of apartment moving, all your belongings such as a bed or a refrigerator must be transported, and people usually ask a professional moving company for help. You can carry out without hiring a moving company, or by asking your friends for help, etc., but, consider time and money for having to do extra works such as providing protection sheets used in the curing of floors.

Hikkoshi is not easy...

Hikkoshi moving involves not only transferring your belongings but also various procedures that include sign-ups for utilities, Internet ISP as well as registration changes at a municipal office. If you move to a place in the same town where you are currently live in, things to do would be somewhat simpler, but there are still many things to do, after all.

In most cases, rental agreements for apartments in Japan require renewal every 2 years and the renewal fee costs a lot. You may feel like moving to another apartment rather than having to pay such money, but remember Hikkoshi also costs a lot and involves much trouble you have to go through.

Also, if you are a student or a worker who is planning to live in Japan temporarily, renting a room in a shared house will be much convenient.

How long will it take for Hikkoshi preparation?

For Hikkoshi preparation you will need at least one month. You should do things alongside, one after the other, so that you can finish by the moving date (Hikkoshibi 引越し日) in accordance with the lease contract expiration.

Things to do for Hikkoshi moving

In general, what you have to do for Hikkoshi moving are like the following.

1. Ask a moving company for a quote

Contact a moving company and ask someone to come for estimating the moving fee. The quote is free of charge and this is a secure way to get an exact cost quoted. If you want to ask a moving company only for transferring large items, for example, a refrigerator and a bed, requesting a quote online will be much easier. However, you should keep in mind that it may cost additional fees if you make input errors when sending a request form. (FYI, Moving companies have a legal obligation to submit quotes (Mitsumorisho) to customers)


2. Set the moving date and get started

Once you set up the moving date, you can take necessary actions; canceling (Kaiyaku 解約) / signing up (Shinki Keiyaku 新規契約) for utilities, telephone, Internet ISP, school change, etc., as well as registration changes at the municipal office. Don’t forget to notify the landlord or the realtor of the moving date and arrange the move-out inspection (Tachiai 立ち合い).


3. Dispose of unwanted belongings

Though small unwanted items can be collected as garbage, you should not discard a large volume of garbage at a garbage collection point all at once. To dispose of garbage, sort them by recyclables, combustibles, non-combustibles following the regulation in your town and discard little by little in several times.

For large garbage, such as furniture, bicycles, you are to discard them like one of these ways below;
(FYI. There is a regulation that moving companies are not allowed to discard such items for their customers. )

Bring and sell them to a recycle shop (リサイクルショップ)
Sell or give away on online classifieds
・ Contact a waste collection office in your town to ask for a pick up (Paid)

(In the case of Tokyo)
Contact the Large Sized Waste Reception Center (粗大ごみ受付センター http://sodai.tokyokankyo.or.jp/) and make a reservation online or by telephone.

Collecting fees are paid by purchasing tickets(labels) called Sodai-gomi Shori-ken粗大ごみ処理券, required for each waste. Buy the ticket(s) at a nearby convenience store and put it (them) on the garbage one by one.
Sodai-gomi Shori-ken 粗大ごみ処理券 Tickets are issued by each municipal district. Be sure and buy the ticket available to use in your town. eg. The ticket for district X can be used only within the district X.

On the designated day, leave the waste at the designated site (usually in front of your apartment).

Large-sized electric appliances including TV, refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners, are for recycling and cannot be collected by municipals according to the Home Appliance Recycling Law.

Contact the retail outlet you originally purchased the product from, and ask for disposal. Or, contact the Home Electric Appliance Reception Center (家電リサイクル受付センター https://www.tokyokankyo.jp/activity/data/kaden/) online or by telephone.


4. Start Packing

If you do packing by yourself, without using a packing service from a professional, you should not leave it till the last minute of the day you move out. Packing may be much time consuming than you expect. Besides, it must be done very carefully in order to avoid damage.


・Moving companies provide cardboard boxes ダンボール for you. (Ask them if the fee is included or excluded.)
・On each box write what is inside and where to place so you can tell the content. e..g: Dishes, Kitchen
・Start with packing items which you don’t use much in daily life.
・Fragile items should be wrapped up with cushioning materials (Kansho-zai 緩衝材)
・Do not put too many items in a box as the bottom may come out.
・Curtains or Futons should not be used to wrap glass items as you may lose both the items by breakage.

5. Plan the layout of your new apartment and prepare things you need right after you move in.

Heavy or large items, such as a refrigerator, a washing machine, should be set up at the same time when they are carried into the room.


6. Submit a moving-out notification to municipal office

In the case of moving to a place in the same municipal district, you are to submit a Moving notification ( Tenkyo-todoke 転居届) to the municipal office. In the case of relocating to another municipal district, a Moving-out notification (Tenshutsu-todoke 転出届) is submitted. Both Moving/Moving-out notification can be submitted from two weeks before the moving day.

If you move to a different district and submit the moving-out notification, a certificate of moving out (Tenshutsu Shoumeisho 転出証明書) will be issued for you. This certificate is required when submitting a Moving-in notification (Tennyu-todoke 転入届) to municipal office in the district you newly move in.

To submit a moving notification at the municipal office, you will need to bring certification cards (your health insurance card, long-term care insurance card, Individual Number Card, Passport, residence card, etc,). You may also need to bring your Inkan stamp. Required items differ depending on the district or the number of household members.


7. Let your next-door neighbors know that you are moving out

On a moving day, you may trouble neighbors with noise while carrying out furniture etc. Telling your neighbors about the moving in advance will help to avoid problems. If you have children, it is also better to give them enough time to say goodbye to their neighboring friends. It is always sad having to say sudden goodbye.

8. Get your fridge empty. Enjoy the last supper

It will be trouble if you leave food in your refrigerator when moving out. Get the refrigerator empty and clean off the frost and water on the inside, then turn it off at least by the evening on the day before moving.

9. Moving Day: Moving out your items from the apartment

Movers from the moving company will arrive on time as scheduled, in the Japanese way. The preparation including packing must have been done by the time.


Move-out inspection 立ち合い

After your items were all moved out, a move-out inspection is conducted together with the landlord or the realtor to find how much restoration (Genjo Kaifukuhi 現状回復費) is required. Though the deposit called (Shikikin 敷金) is supposed to be refund, clearing and repair fees are often deducted from the deposit in accordance with the inspection result. In the case that you are busy on the move-out day, you may make the appointment on the following day or later.

10. Moving Day: Moving your items into the new apartment

Stand by at the new apartment and wait for the truck to arrive. After the truck arrives, tell the movers where to put the items as you planned, then unpack boxes by yourself.


11. Complete required procedures

Though required procedures may vary depending on living situations, the following is generally included.

What required to do after moving in, mostly involves notification and registration procedures at the municipal office. Making a to-do list will be a help for preparation in order to avoid having to go to municipal office several times for each procedure.

Last updated: March 1 2017
This article is also available in Japanese

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