Friday, July 25, 2008

Online Map and Road Navigation

While surfing the information about Furano (the famous city for flower farms)....

Finally I got the English version of tourist spots map in Hokkaido .

And also Rest Spot for driver called 道の駅 (michi no eki)

For those who don't have car navigator, don't worry here is the solution

Enjoy your summer..

[Malay] Beribadat di Perantauan

Sila lawati pautan berikut sebagai panduan menunaikan ibadat di perantauan atau ketika bermusafir seperti permasalahan puasa, sembahyang dan sebagainya..

Thursday, July 24, 2008

rental car

Wanna get away from hectic life? Let's drive!

I found this link is useful for car rental --
and the important thing is "It is in English!!"..yeah! fit me!

Generally, they offer cheaper price than at the on-the-station-rental.
But make sure to make reservation 2,3 days before the actual rental day.

I once rented a latest version of Nissan Bluebird Slyphy for about 5,000 yen per day. The normal price is actually around 9,000 yen per day. Save a BIT, huh! :D
It was really nice and I am satisfied with the service.

Try it out!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

beware of these HARAM-related kanji

beware of the following kanji/writing in what you eat (will be updated)

strictly forbidden

豚 (buta) pig
酒 (sake) japanese alcohol

ポーク (pooku) pork
ラード (raado) lard *fat from pork
ハム (hamu) ham *pork slice
ベーコン (beekon) bacon
アルコール (arukooru) alkohol
ラム (ramu) ram *a kind of alcoholic product which is widely used in ice-cream
ワイン (wain) wine
ビール (biiru) beer
ウイスキー (uisukii) whiskey

depending on their original constituents or otherwise stated

動物 (doubutsu) animal
肉 (niku) meat
牛 (ushi) cow *BUT 牛乳 (gyuunyuu) means cow milk :)
鶏 (tori) chicken/bird
鳥 (tori) chicken/bird
乳化剤 (nyuukazai) emulsifier

チキン (chikin) chicken
コンソメ (konsome) consomme
ショートニング (shooteningu) shortening
ゼラチン (zerachin) gelatin
レシチン (reshichin) lecithin

** sometimes word 大豆 (daizu - soy bean) or 植物 (shokubutsu - plant) is written in a bracket next to food chemicals such as emulsifier, shortening, gelatin and lecithin which shows that those are synthesized from plant sources. In that case, they are safe to be consumed.

useful link--> halal list by kmii


Getting Japan Driving License

*I followed the procedures as a Malaysian in Sapporo, different citizenship or place might follow the different procedures.
** please bring together someone who can speak Japanese to reduce problems.

Step 1 - JPJ confirmation letter. [For Malaysian]

If you have renewed your driving license once, please ask JPJ to issue a letter which describes when your license was first issued. You will have to pay RM10 for the letter. (I asked my sister in Malaysia to do that and mailed me the letter)

Make sure that
- your license is still valid at the time you want to take the Japanese driving test.
- for the new driver, you obtained your first driving license 3 months in your country before coming to Japan.

** Some of my Malaysian friends did not apply for the JPJ lettter and still they passed the Step 3 below. So, it depends on your luck! Sometimes the officer does not request this document. But make sure that the issued or renewed date on your current license is 3 months prior to your arrival to Japan.

Step 2 - License Translation to Japanese.

Go to any Japan Automobile Federation.
For Sapporians, take the subway Touho line (blue line) to the last station named Fukuzumi. At the station, there will be the signboard to go to JAF, Sapporo Branch. Here you don't need someone to speak Japanese with the officer. You can go by your own.

Click JAF for the required documents for the translation.
Please bring together all your previous expired license slits (if you still have them) and the JPJ letter (from Step 1) to support you application.

The process takes about 30 minutes only.

Step 3 - Registering test. [In case of Teine Driving Test Center, Hokkaido]

Here is the place --> (in Japanese)

Go to counter 6 to register your test. Pass all the following documents to the officer.
a- your passport and your previous expired passport(s)
b- alien registration card
c- 1 photo (taken within 6 months)
d- the translation from JFA (from Step 2)

The officer will ask you to wait. In my case, she asked me to wait for an hour. After an hour, I went back to the counter again and she asked several questions about our driving experience and documentation. If you don't have complete supporting documents such as previous expired password(s), please be prepared to cheat :). But if you are could not convince the officer, you may have to involved your country embassy to support your application later on.

After the officer satisfied with the documents, she will askyou to pay about Y2,800 at cashier, taking vision test and return back to the counter.

For vision test, you are tested for 4 symbols (up, down, right, left) and colours (blue, red, yellow) which takes only 1 minute.

Then, she will bring you the test room. you will be asked 10 pictured-objective question which are extremely easy. But make sure you read the question properly. I think the pass point is 7/10. Mark "O" for correct answer and "X" for wrong answer.

She will tell you your result immediately. If you passed, you have to book for the driving test schedule. You can choose to have a test with Automatic Transmission (AT) or Manual Transmission (MT). If you choose MT, you can drive both AT and MT in Japan.

Step 3 process takes about 2 hours.

Step 4 - Training

I recommend you to try and practice at the test circuit. In Teine Driving Test Center, the circuit is open for Y1,000 per hour using your own car. The opening schedule is

6.00 am - 8 am (weekdays from April to October)
5.00 pm - 7 pm (weekdays whole year)

Step 5 - Be idiot

At first the test officer will explain you how to drive, where to give signal and so on theoretically on the map on his table. If you think your Japanese is not strong enough, please bring someone who can translate for you.

Then, he will bring you to the car. At first, he will drive and show several important points and place on the actual circuit.

Now, it is your turn to start the test. You can read other websites to get tips how to pass the test. But for me, I suggest that you are better to be the most idiot as you can. Exaggerate all of your action. Don't show your F1 driving skills and your confidence. Show him that you are always alert when driving.

When the test is over, the officer will comment your driving but does not telling the result yet. You have to go to counter 6 again to wait for the result.

If you passed, you have to pay another Y1,800 for getting the Japan driving license. The license will be ready in the same day. If you failed, please repeat Step 3 (without vision test and objective test). Yes! you have to pay again for the next driving test schedule.

Step 5 process takes about 5 hours.

Useful links
Japan Automotif Federation

ganbatte kudasai!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Importing/Bringing Medication into Japan for Personal Use

1 April, 2004

Compliance and Narcotics Division,
Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau,
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

  • An importer of medication (drug, quasi-drug, cosmetic or medical device) for business purposes needs a License from the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law.

  • There is no need for a License for individual's importing or bringing medication into Japan for personal use. An individual can import the following restricted quantities of medication without special procedures. Medication imported or brought into Japan for personal use must not be sold or given to others.

    1. Drug or Quasi-drug: Up to 2 months' supply

    • Poisonous drug, Powerful drug or Prescription Drug : Up to 1 month's supply
    • Drug or Quasi-drug for External Use (excluding Poisonous drug, Powerful drug or prescription
      drug) : Up to 24 pieces

      Note )
      Quasi-drug :

      Quasi-drug is a product that has restricted purpose of use,has a mild action on the human body, and is not categorized as a medical device.
      e.g.) hair tonics, bath preparations, etc.
      For external use :
      e.g.) ointments, eye drops etc.

    2. Cosmetic : Up to 24 pieces per item

    3. Medical Device (for home use only) : 1 set
    e.g.) Electric massager
Import Prohibited or RestrictedDrugs

  • Import of stimulants (Amphetamine, Metamphetamine, etc.) is prohibited by the Stimulants Control law.
  • An importer of Narcotics, Psychotropic drugs needs a license from the Director-General Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare under the Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Law.An contact point for the application of the Narcotics Control Department of the Bureau.
  • In accordance with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), import of drugs including the following substances is restricted.
    1. Rhinoceros horn
    2. Musk
    3. Tiger bones
    4. Fel Ursi etc.

Further Reference
  • If you need to bring more than the restricted quantity of medication into Japan for personal use, and you plan to arrive at one of the following airports, please contact the following Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare during business hours

    ( Monday to Friday, 09 : 30 to 17: 45 ) :
    • Tokyo (Narita) International Airport (Kantou-Shinetsu office)
      Phone : +81-48-740-0800
      Fax : +81-48-601-1336
    • Kansai International Airport (Kinki office)
      Phone : +81-6-6942-4096
      Fax : +81-6-6942-2472
    • Naha International Airport (Okinawa branch office)
      Phone : +81-98-854-2584
      Fax : +81-98-834-8978
  • Regarding Narcotics, Psychotropic drugs, Stimulants etc., please contact the following office by Facsimile :
    • Charge of Opium of Compliance and Narcotics Division, Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
      Fax : +81-3-3501-0034
  • Regarding CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)., please contact the following office :

    source : forwarded email through mailing list

Friday, July 11, 2008

monthly transportation pass (teiki - 定期)

I am currently living close to Gakuen Mae Station (学園前駅). The one way trip using subway to Kita 12 jou Station (北12条駅) costs me 240 Yen. If I use the route every day, the total cost will be about 10,000 Yen per month. Ee....takai yo! Yeah, there is the solution for regular user of Sapporo Transportation System (Bus, Subway, Train).

I bought a subway pass which cost me 5,760 Yen for a month. It would be slightly cheaper if one buy for 3 months pass. The pass price depends on the distance between two commuting points/terminal/station and also user category (worker, student, etc.)

Where to buy? at Odori subway station (also at specified stations, ask the subway staff)
Need to show identification card i.e. student card, alien registeration card
Bring cash money too

here is the website (in Japanese)
benri na...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

car disposal (haisha - 廃車)

I sent my previous 1991 Mitsubishi Minica for disposal at :

Sapporo Parts Rainbow House
Sapporo-shi Higashi-ku Kita 25 Jou Higashi 21 Choume 1-5
website (Japanese)


The person-in-charge is Sasaki-san. She is very helpful and nice. She was okay with my bad Japanese skill :D. I think as long as we have all the required documents, nothing to worry about.

Since its shaken will due in the next two months, I got the tonnage tax proportion back (about 2,500 Yen.
Due to miscommunication, I thought I have to pay 15,000 Yen for the disposal process.
BUT, actually the company gave me that amount for buying the scrap car and the amount of remaining tax proportion period of the shaken. I was really happy to get some money back. The paying price depends on the condition of the car.

The company will take care of all process, and terminate the tax record from the City Hall. In order to do that, just prepare the following items to be handed over:

1- Car Inspection Certificate (jidoushakensa shou -自動車検査証)- called shaken
2- Compulsory Insurance Receipt (jibaiseki hoken shoumeisho - 自賠責保険証明書)
3- Recycle Ticket (kaitai shoumeitou - 解体証明書等) - this ticket/receipt showed that the recyle fee for the car has been paid.
4- Stamp (inkan - 印鑑)
5- Stamp Registration Certificate (inkan touroku shoumeisho - 印鑑登録証明書)

The car can be brought in ourselves to the company or the company person can take them from our home. In either case, confirm with the company first.

When deregistration is completed, the company will send a notification postcard which shows that everything is settled.


p/s : really happy to get some money back..kaimono shimashou!!

International Food Store - Carot (キャロット)

I found Carot (キャロット) store is pretty amazing. They sell various international food ingredients where it is hardly to find it another stores/malls. Here you can find various Asian ingredients, dried condiments/spices, flour, frozen seafood (from outside Japan) , Western cheese etc. Just stop by and you will surprise with what they have.

Sapporo stores website (Japanese)

Chuo-ku Kita 9 Jou Nishi 21 Choume

Chuo-ku Minami 6 Jou Nishi 11 Choume

Toyohira-ku Nakajima 1 Jou 3 Choume

Higashi-ku Kita 26 Jou Higashi 8 Choume

Atsubetsu-ku Atsubetsu Chuo 3 Jou 4 Choume 6 Ban 2

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

feel sick..don"t know which hospital to go?

For Japanese non-speaking foreigners, it would be very difficult to deal with many procedures in Japan. If suddenly you feel sick, it might be difficult for you to explain your simptons and sickness to doctor. Beware that not all medical doctors can speak English. Thus, I recommend you to the Sapporo City General Hospital (Ichi Ritsu Sapporo Byouin - 市立札幌病院->Japanese website). There are volunteers in the hospital who can speak main world languages (English, Korean, French, Russian, Chinese etc). They will help you through the process from registration until you get your medicine prescription. When you enter the main entrance of the hospital, ask the Info counter person about the one who can speak your preferred language. For the female Muslim, you can request for a female doctor to treat you.

Location : Chuo-ku Kita 11 Nishi 13 Sapporo (札幌市中央区北11西13), near to Souen Train Station (桑園駅)and Souen AEON Jusco Mall.

Do not forget to bring you National Health Insurance card!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

MADO Japanese Free Lesson

There is a group of Japanese teacher volunteer in Sapporo which named themselves as MADO who provide free Japanese Lesson. Their website is here.

The lesson is held every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 1 to 5 pm except on specific National Holiday. The place is in Conference Room, 2nd Floor of Sapporo International House, just behind Gakuen Mae Subway Station (学園前駅)。

Today I joined the event for the first time. They assigned one volunteer to each student. The lesson can be customized according to the Japanese level of the student. It is a one to one lesson. Great! Even if one does not know anything, the teacher will teach patiently and very helpful. I was with Satou-sensei, a housewife. She is very very nice. We are in the same age..she is funny too :)

Do come and join the group, I hope I can improve my Japanese conversation skill. Ganbareyou!

Friday, July 4, 2008

shaken (車検) renewal

Shaken needs to be renewed every two years. My car which I got yesterday will due its shaken in two days. So I just bring it to Eneos petrol station at Kita 19 Nishi 4. Make sure the following documents are ready:
1- Inspection certificate (shakesho - 車検書)
2- Compulsory Insurance certificate (jibaiseki hoken - 自賠責保険) - get this from the previous owner
3- The latest yearly tax receipt (nouzei shoumeisho - 納税証明書) - get this from the previous owner. If he already paid the tax, and the recipt is lost, you have to pay extra charge about Yen3,000 to request for the new receipt)

The whole shaken price depends on your car engine transmission. For 2.0 cc class, the basic price is about Yen80,000. This does not include some part which might need to be repaired. You just give the car to the shop and they will handle everything. They will call you when the new shaken is ready. It takes about a day if you let the shop to handle it.

You can also renew the shaken by yourself. Since I don't know Japanese and my knowledge about car is nearly null, I just bring it to the shop.

*If your shaken period is going to finish, I suggest that you make a reservation at least one month earlier at the shaken shop/station. Some shop give a price reduction about Yen5,000 on the prior reservation.

medical check up (kenkou shindan - 健康診断)

For Hokudai students, there is free medical check up provided by Health Center in April. Only in April, so please watch out the date which will be announced at your faculty. I suggest you (I mean Hokudai students) should take this opportunity since later perhaps you may need the medical certificate for other purposes for example applying for academic course, job and moving to the new house where this certificate is one of the required documents.

I wrote this entry because I missed the chance and I need to give the medical certificate to my new house management. TPublish Postoday I went to on of the medical check up center. click here to its webpage (in Japanese). The location is at 5th Floor, Sapporo Erupu Plaza, Kita 8 Nishi 3. There are fluent English speaking nurses who can help you through the process. Don't worry, they are really nice. I made the following check up :
- blood pressure
- weight and height measurement
- hearing and sight test
- chest check
- urine test
- x-ray
which cost overall for about Yen2,200 (Next year I will for sure take the free medical check-up at Hokudai Health Center)
I also did blood type test which cost another Yen900 because I forgot what type of blood I have :)

The report will be ready in a week. ki wo tsukete!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Change Ownership

My friend want to give way his Toyota Corona 2.0 to me. So we have to transfer the ownership of the car.

MAKE SURE before you change the ownership,
1- the current owner MUST handover to you the following documents
- recycle fee receipt
- inspection certificate (shaken- 車検)
- compulsory insurance certificate (jibaiseki hoken - 自賠責保険)
2- the current owner give you the latest yearly tax receipt (nouzei shoumeisho - 納税証明書). The tax should be paid before the end of May every year. If he wants to give away the car to you on June, MAKE SURE he already paid the tax otherwise you will face BIG PROBLEM when you want to renew the shaken.)

In case you and the current owner want to do it yourself, make sure the following documents are ready :

From current owner
1- Alien Registeration card (gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho - 外国人登録証明書)
2-Current valid inspection certificate (shaken - 車検)
3- Stamp and Stamp certificate (inkan & inkan touroku shoumeisho - 印鑑 & 印鑑登録証明書)

From owner-to-be
1- Alien Registration card (gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho - 外国人登録証明書)
2- Stamp and Stamp certificate (inkan & inkan touroku shoumeisho - 印鑑 & 印鑑登録証明書)
3- Prepare some cash around Yen3,000
4- In case the car plate is not Sapporo (札幌) number, you need a new plate which cost around Yen2,000.
5- Parking certificate (shako shoumeisho - 車庫証明書)

Bring the documents to Sapporo Transport Office (unyu shikyoku 運輸支局) at Higashi-ku Kita 28 Nishi 1 (東区北28条西1丁目). Please bring some one who can speak Japanese to help you.

It takes only about 15 minutes to finish the process. You will receive shaken with your name on it. That's all.

*for Kei-car or yellow plate care, the process is quite different and at the different office.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

mosque and muslim society

In hokkaido, even the muslim community is really small, but we do have a strong relation between each other. Here is the web site of the community Hokkaido Islamic Society (HIS).

It is actually a small two-levels white building which is marked with "HIS" and マスジド. Among the activities are Arabic language, Quran recitation, Quran reading class for kids and Friday prayer (12.15 pm).

Address :
Sapporo-shi Kita-ku Kita 14 Jyou Nishi-3 Choume 7-Ban

updated June 18, 2008
I just found a list of mosque in Japan. click here
This includes Sapporo Mosque and Otaru Mosque in Hokkaido.
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