Predeparture FAQs

  • Arrival

    Which international airport is closest to Kyoto?
    Kansai International (KIX), located in Osaka Bay, about 80km (50 miles) from Kyoto.
    How can I get from the airport to the dorm?
    We recommend using a shuttle taxi van service door to door, from airport to dorm. There are two companies, Yasaka (which gives student discount) and MK. You need to make a reservation (available online).
    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.)
    If your plane diverts to Tokyo (a very rare possibility in summer typhoon season), take the Narita Express to Shinagawa, then Shinkansen (“Bullet Train”) to Kyoto, then subway, as above.
  • Dorms

    Where will I be staying?
    New students are usually allocated a single room in one of our international dorms. You will be advised of your dorm location, room number and address before you arrive. (See our Accommodation page for more details). The dorms are close enough to campus to walk or ride a bicycle to class.
    What is provided in dorm rooms?
    A bed, desk, chair (in Kino-ryo), closet, and individually-controlled airconditioner (heating and cooling type).
    What other facilities are provided in the dorms?
    Dorms have showers, not baths. Domestic-type washing machines and dryers are provided free of charge (detergent not provided). The kitchens have refrigerators, stoves, toasters, and micro-waves. You will need to buy your own utensils etc. (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. SEIKA has two convenience stores on campus, and 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.
  • Communications

    Is Internet 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.
    Can I get a cell phone?
    Yes, you can buy one here, but contracts are mostly for 2 years. If you bring a smart-phone from overseas, you can rent a data-only SIM card cheaply (900 yen per month) after arrival.
  • 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.

    SEIKA has an ATM on campus, but among international cards it accepts only American Express and Diners Club International.

    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.

    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 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 Seven Eleven store close by SEIKA and the dorms, in Hataeda.

    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). Exchange rates are standardized daily in Japan – you get the same deal anywhere.
    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 after receiving your Alien Registration card (gaikokujin torokusho), which takes at least a month to process. However, the post office account does not accept overseas transfers, so it is only useful if you bring a large amount of money that you want to keep safely. 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 other living/studying expenses etc.
  • Health Insurance

    Can I join Japan's National Health scheme??
    Yes, in fact you are required to join. With this very reasonably-priced national health cover (less than 2,000 yen per month), you pay only 30% of a medical or dental bill.
  • Transportation

    What transportation is available in Kyoto?
    Kyoto has 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 a free Shuttle Bus to the Kokusai-kaikan subway station Mon-Sat.
    Can I ride a bicycle in Kyoto?
    Absolutely. Bicycles are very commonly used here, and some sidewalks have bike lanes. Since the city is relatively flat, bikes are an excellent way to explore Kyoto – except during rainy season (June/July).
  • Other Logistics

    Is Japan's electrical system world-compatible?
    Japan operates on 110 volt, 60Hz (western Japan). Basically compatible with most US and European 100-volt appliances, though you may need a converter plug.
    Is there anything I should consider bringing to Japan?
    Familiar general medications, health care products etc, as required. (Even aspirin and Vitamin C are expensive here). If you need prescription medications, it may be best to bring them with you. But to avoid possible delay in Customs on arrival, they should be in original packages or clearly labeled. Bring warm clothing for winter. Non-lace-up (slip-on, velcro-fastened or zipped) shoes or boots are convenient.