Predeparture FAQs

  • Calendar

    What are the semester dates for 2016?
    See our Schedule page.
  • Arrival

    Where's the nearest international airport?
    Kansai International (KIX), in Osaka Bay, about 80km (50 miles) from Kyoto.
    Which airline is best?
    Difficult question. One very important consideration is how much baggage you are allowed. Ask!!! Cheap flights may have a 20kg limit (seriously!) which means you will find yourself spending much more on shipping stuff home at the end of your visit.
    How do I get to the dorm?
    We recommend using a shuttle taxi van service door to door, airport to dorm. It costs 3,000 yen including student discount. We can make a reservation for you (essential) if you let us know your airline, flight number, and arrival date and time at least 4 days before your arrival.
    What if my plane is delayed, or diverted?
    The shuttle companies monitor incoming flights, so if there is a delay, they will try to reschedule you on a later shuttle. If you can't take the shuttle, the alternative is an express train (the Haruka), from KIX to Kyoto Station. From there, take the subway north to Kokusai-kaikan, then a taxi. (See our SEIKA Access page for more details.)
    Even if you have a shuttle reservation, please print out and carry our access instructions, and access map, just in case of an unexpected change of plan.(The access map also helps you to find our office after you arrive, for orientation).
  • Dorms

    ※The following information is for 2016. As the university will launch a new dormitory in 2017, the information below will be updated soon.

    Where will I be staying?
    Accommodation is provided at SEIKA's International Student Houses for our first-year ryugakusei, exchange students, and incoming exchange groups. (Due to space limitations, research students can't stay in the dorms, but are assisted on arrival to find other suitable accommodation).
    When do I need to pay rent?
    Please pay your full semester's rent within the first week after arrival, or within one month at the latest. Pay in cash (sorry, no credit card facility), at the Accounts Office, on the 4th floor of the Administration Building.
    What other expenses will I have to pay?
    A comprehensive compulsory insurance cover for damage or accident. It will cost 5,180 yen per semester for spring semester [fall semester is 5,220 yen / one year is 10,400 yen]. Exchange students and research students are expected to pay at the Accounts Office on arrival. Also, exchange students need to pay futon rental charge of approximately 10,800 yen per semester(16,200 yen for one year, including tax). It is also paid on arrival.
    What is provided in my dorm room?
    We provide a bed and desk in Western-style rooms (Kino-ryo), and fresh sheets, futons, blanket, pillow, and pillow-case (rented, as mentioned above). We don't supply towels, so please bring or buy your own. All rooms have individually-controlled air conditioners for both heating and cooling.
    What other facilities are provided in the dorms?
    All dorms have showers, not baths. Domestic-type washing machines and dryers are provided for do-it-yourself laundry, free of charge (please provide washing powder). The kitchens have refrigerators, stoves, toasters, and micro-waves. You will need to buy your own utensils. (Easy to find at homeware shops and even 100yen stores).
    Is there a meal plan at the dorm?
    Sorry, no. The dorms are self-catered only, with shared kitchens.
    Is there a cafeteria on campus?
    Yes. It provides cheap but good food Mondays through Saturdays, is closed Sundays. There's also a Coffee Lounge in the same building. There are two convenience stores on campus, and Seika also has a restaurant, Reata, just off campus.
    Are the dorms co-ed?
    No – SEIKA’s dorms are NOT co-ed. Men are not allowed in the women's dorm (except in the downstairs lounge, until 10pm) and women visitors are not allowed in the men's dorm at any time. These rules are strictly enforced.
    Is there a curfew?
    No. The main doors are kept locked, for security, but residents have their own keys.
    Can my friend visit and stay with me in the dorm?
    Same-gender friends (or family members) may stay in your room with you for up to 10 days, if you apply for permission in advance. Rooms may not be sub-let or lent to anyone else.
    Can I stay after the end of term?
    You are welcome to stay up until the last week of August in first semester (we need a few days for cleaning before the next students arrive from Sept. 1st), or until the end of March in second semester, but if you do stay on, you will need to pay rent for periods of one full month – sorry, Seika regulations don't allow us to prorate rent for a period of less than one month.
  • Communications

    Is Internet access available?
    Yes! The dorms have Ethernet cable connections in each room, so you can go online free of charge. To use this service, you need to bring your own laptop. Each student receives a free account on SEIKA’s server, with wireless access in many parts of campus (password required). Laptop computers are loaned out by the Johokan (Media Center) for use within the building only.
    How about phone access?
    The International Office has a few prepaid-type mobile phones that are loaned to incoming women exchange students. This semester however we will have less phones than students, so first come, first served. Please don't borrow one unless you intend to use it. Students are responsible for all service costs. If you bring a smart-phone, you can rent a data-only SIM card cheaply (900 yen per month) after arrival.
    How do international students make phone calls to their home country?
    Mobile rates are expensive. Rechargeable international phone cards are available that give good 24-hour rates from public phones.
    The most popular and practical alternative is to bring a laptop, set up to enable free Skype calls.
  • Weather

    What's the weather like in Kyoto?
    First semester: Spring begins with spectacular cherry blossom, then there's some rain, and the hills become green again. Expect humidity to increase in June, leading to tsuyu, rainy season. By mid-July, it's HOT. Second semester: From September, the heat fades and rice-fields turn from green to gold, with harvest time around the equinox. Fall color moves down from the top of Mt Hiei, reaching full brilliance in November, as frosts begin. By later December, there's a chance of snow. Weather gets colder in January, with occasional heavy snow in February and into March.
  • Money

    Can I use my credit card in Japan?
    Yes — if it's listed below. Japan used to be mainly a cash society, but credit cards are becoming more widely used now. Make sure that you tell your bank that you plan to make withdrawals overseas, or they may block your card. You should also ask whether they impose a daily limit on overseas withdrawals.

    Japanese banks' ATMs that accept major international credit cards can be found throughout Japan, and at branches of Citibank, including one with 24-hr ATM access in central downtown Kyoto (Shijo-Karasuma).

    Post office branch ATMs accept VISA, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus, American Express, Diners Club International, 9am thru 5pm, Monday-Friday; major post offices are also open on Saturdays, main post offices (e.g. at Kyoto Station) 24 hour access.
    Seven Eleven Convenience Stores in Japan, as of July 2007, all offer 24-hour access to cash with foreign credit or debit cards (VISA/PLUS, MasterCard/Cirrus, American Express, JCB, China Union Pay ); PIN # required. Language options for ATM screen and receipts: English, Korean, Chinese, and Portuguese.There is a 7/11 close by Seika/dorms, in Hataeda.

    Please note that some ATMs limit cash withdrawals to 30,000 yen per day. It's generally perfectly safe to carry cash in Japan. Purse-snatching, mugging, or pocket-picking are virtually unknown here. If you drop your wallet or purse, it is very likely to be handed in to a police box, contents untouched.
    Where can I change money?
    There's a money exchange booth right beside the arrivals gate at Kansai International Airport (KIX).
    Can I open a bank account in Japan and transfer money to it?
    Due to new banking regulations, you have to be able to prove you have been living in Japan for 6 months before you can open a bank account.

    You can open a Post Office Savings (Yuucho) account. All post offices have Yuucho ATMs, and the SEIKA Family Mart convenience store ATM accepts Yuucho cards (and Citibank).

    Instead of transferring money, we suggest simply enabling money to be paid into an account in your home country, which you can access by using your credit card here in Japan, as described above.
    Is Japan expensive?
    Yes and no. Japan has a reputation as one of the world's most expensive places to live, but Kyoto has a long history as a university town, so many restaurants and shops (including big 100yen stores) target budget-conscious students. Seika's cafeteria is very economical, too...
    What can I expect to spend per month?
    We advise budgeting between 40 and 50 thousand yen per month for food, transportation and art materials/museum entrance fees etc. That is not including accommodation, since that is paid in advance for the semester.
  • Health Insurance

    Can I join Japan's National Health scheme??
    Yes. International students are required to join Japan's National Health Insurance

    The NHI covers usual medical costs including doctor's, hospital, and dental fees for necessary treatment (accident or sickness): 70% of the expense for medical treatment is covered by the NHI, so you only pay 30% of the official bill.
    * To join the NHI, you sign up at the ward office (immediately after applying for your alien card).
    * The premium is about 1,800 yen per month, paid by monthly installments at a bank or post office. (This is the minimum fee, based on your not having received any income in Japan in the previous year).
    * Coverage begins immediately on joining, but you need to join the NHI before receiving medical treatment. It's also essential to cancel the cover before you leave Japan, or you will continue to be billed.
  • Transportation

    What transportation is available in Kyoto?
    as a comprehensive system of buses, subways, and public and private railway lines. All operate with renowned Japanese efficiency & reliability, and are clean & safe.  SEIKA has its own station on the Eiden railway line, about 20 minutes from the city center (service until nearly midnight), and operates regular and frequent free shuttle buses to the Kokusai-kaikan subway station Mon-Sat.
    Can I get a bicycle?
    Some bicycles have been left by previous exchange students. Fairly cheap second-hand bikes are available at bicycle shops in northern Kyoto. You could also rent one for 3,000 yen per month. Since the city is mostly flat, bikes are the best way to explore Kyoto, except during rainy season (June/July).
  • Other Logistics

    What is Japan's electrical system?
    110 volt, 60Hz (in western Japan). It's basically compatible with most US and European 100-volt appliances, though you may need to find a converter plug. Video camera rechargers and laptops etc are often compatible with any world voltage.
    Is there anything I should consider bringing to Japan?
    • Familiar general medications, health care products etc, as required. Even aspirin and Vitamin C are outrageously expensive here. If you use alternative herbal medications like Erinacea etc, bring them -- they are very hard to find in Japan! Roll-on deodorant if you use it. Cold treatment, if you think you may need it. If you need prescription medications, it may be best to bring them with you.
    But to avoid possible delay in Customs on arrival, prescription medications should be in original packages or properly labelled. (Japan is extremely cautious about drugs. Sniffer dogs check all incoming bags). Even herbal tobacco may be suspect and result in a tense delay.

    • Non-lace-up footwear – such as slip-on, velcro-fastened or zipped shoes/boots – makes life much easier, as you often take shoes off & put them on again.

    • Kyoto guidebook: Lonely Planet Guide to Kyoto is highly recommended, very useful to pre-read too.

    • Cheap snack food: we suggest bringing nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, health bars, the kind of snack food that keeps up your energy on field trips. This stuff is not so commonly available in Japan and is absurdly expensive in tiny packages!