Newborn baby paperwork in Tokyo

We recently had a baby in Tokyo, and in this post I’ll share our experience with the required paperwork (mostly in chronological order).

Our situation for reference:

  • my wife is Japanese, thus our baby is also Japanese, so the baby doesn’t need residence card and visa
  • we live in Tokyo, and some of these programs are provided by the Tokyo prefecture (but other prefecture might have similar programs)
  • I work for a Japanese company as a fulltime employee (会社員), and they provides my health insurance
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What to check before buying a land in Tokyo

We are currently at the final steps of buying a land in Tokyo, so in this post I’ll share the information we checked when considering a given land. In an earlier post I looked at comparing the data on cities of Tokyo, which gives a good high level view, while this post will look at data-sources that are useful when looking at a specific land.

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Comparing cities to live in: Musashino vs Mitaka vs Koganei

We decided to build our own house in Tokyo. We narrowed down our area to the following stations on the Chuo line: Mitaka (Mitaka City), Musashi-sakai (Musashino City), Musashi-Koganei (Koganei City). We also considered Kichijoji, but it was way out of budget (also it gets very crowded on weekends), and Higashi-Koganei (the station between Musashi-sakai and Musashi-Koganei), but currently it lacks the shops and amenities that we got used to. It is being actively developed, so it might get there in the next 5-10 years, but it’s also between two pretty well developed stations, so chain stores might pass on opening their stores there (e.g. both neighboring stations have Ito-Yokado shopping malls, making it unlikely that there would be one in Higashi-Koganei in the future).

Choosing where to live is one of the truly life-altering decisions, especially for our children (as it affects which school they go to, their friends and also influences their career). While big part of this can’t be foreseen, I decided to take a look at the data available to compare these cities. I believe the same data is published for most cities in Japan, so even if you are looking at other places, this post might be able to help you make your own comparison.

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Japanese alias name (通称名, tsūshōmei)

Japan allows foreigners to register a legal alias (通称名, tsūshōmei) and use it as their name in some situations. In this post I’ll describe why and how I did this, and what it changed for my everyday life.

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My Tokyo travel recommendations

I often get asked by friends visiting Tokyo what they must see/eat/experience, so in this post I’ll summarize my top recommendations. This doesn’t aim to include all the cool places, but rather highlight some of the less known parts of Tokyo that I really like.

All photos were taken by me in this post.

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Medical expense tax deduction in Japan (医療費控除)

In Japan if one pays more than 100,000 yen of medical expenses in a calendar year, they can deduct it from their pre-tax income (usually leading to an income tax refund). In this post I’ll attempt to summarize the rules of this.

As with all my posts, this is not tax advice and do your own research before making any decision. Also if you find any inaccuracy or mistake, please leave a comment at the end, so that I can correct it.

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Home loan tax deductions in Japan (as of 2024)

Japan has a system that provides income tax deduction for people with a home mortgage in the first years of the mortgage (住宅ローン減税). The rules have changed in the past, and which rules apply depends on when one bought/built their home. In this post I’ll attempt to summarize the rules applicable to a home acquired in 2024. As with all my posts, this is not tax advice and do your own research before making any decision. Also if you find any inaccuracy or mistake, please leave a comment at the end, so that I can correct it.

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Why I decided to speak my language, Hungarian to our kids and raise them multilingual

We are expecting our first child very soon, so we have been thinking and discussing which language we want to speak to them. In this post I’ll go through some of the things we considered and how we arrived to a conclusion.

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Thoughts on handling money in a relationship

One of the common causes of divorce is money problems, so it’s important to be mindful about it. Here are my thoughts on one possible way of doing it.

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A look at life insurance in Japan

I’m starting a family, so I’ve been recently thinking about life insurance to ensure they won’t have financial hardship if I pass early. In this article I’ll review what I found. Please remember that I’m not a professional, and none of this is financial or tax advice. As always, do your own research.

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Investing plans with the upcoming new NISA

From 2024, Japan’s tax-free investment system, NISA, is getting a major overhaul. Investments made within the system are tax-free (no dividend and capital gain tax), with the only major limitation on yearly and lifetime contribution limits, and that a third of the limits can only be used for mutual funds. This is not a retirement scheme, and there is no penalty for selling early. In this post I will review how I plan to invest from 2024.

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Adding Furusato nozei to e-Tax

How to indicate furusato nozei when filing taxes online. (To learn about furusato nozei, see Furusato nozei - end to end guide.)

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Furusato nozei - end to end guide

What is furusato nozei, a bit of history, and how you can do it end to end. This won’t be short, but I try my best to provide the full picture with all the details. While I do my best to keep this information accurate, if you find any inaccuracies, please let me know.

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Thoughts on the future of the real estate market of Tokyo

This is a continuation of my previous post on buying vs renting in Tokyo

The future resale price of a property depends on demand: are there going to be people willing and able to purchase it? Let’s look into the forecasts affecting this. I will try my best to use official (government) statistics and forecasts, even if these are a few years outdated.

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Thoughts on renting vs buying in Tokyo

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about buying either a house or an apartment (mansion), or whether renting makes more sense for now. The primary aim of this post is to collect my thoughts, and record the decision so that I can revisit it in the future. It might also help others considering the same question, but that’s not the main intention (e.g. I will focus exclusively on my use-case and not cover other locations or sizes).

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All-World ETFs for NISA

My go-to investment is the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (VT) that includes stocks in close to all companies of the world, so as long as the world economy does well, it goes up. Being a US-based security the dividends are subject to a 10% tax withholding in the US (regardless of me not having to file US taxes). This is not an issue for regular investments, as Japan levies a 20% tax on dividends and due to the tax treaty with the US I can deduct the already paid 10% and only pay the other 10% in Japan (I’m using Interactive Brokers, so I’m doing this myself when filing my taxes).

However I also started doing NISA recently, which is tax-exempt, so I don’t need to pay taxes in Japan on neither the capital gains nor the dividends. But this does not affect the 10% dividend tax levied in the US. So I set out to find a comparable investment that is domiciled outside the US.

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Shared bank account for non-married couples in Japan

The internet wisdom seems to agree that shared accounts (or joint accounts) are illegal and impossible in Japan. As a workaround some banks will issue a second card in the name of the spouse (e.g. SMBC), however that’s generally only available for married couples.

So if you live with a partner, but not married, you are out of luck? Not entirely.

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Online party games for a multi-lingual family

My partner is Japanese, and speaks English, while my family is Hungarian and speak varying levels of English. This Christmas we had an online board game/party game session, and I got to pick the games.

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Video for a Japanese learning podcast

This week I got to help out with a video for a Japanese learning podcast episode by Momoko sensei. I like taking photos, especially to capture life in Japan, so I was very happy for this opportunity to show them to the world. Most of the photos in the video are mine, except the ones at the purikura section. Enjoy!

Times Car Share

Even though Japan has amazing public transportation, sometimes having a car can make things so much better, like going for a day trip to the countryside or picking up someone at the station. This gets even more important as you leave Tokyo: for example Kyoto’s public transportation is mostly buses that can be significantly delayed due to traffic, and they are slower than cycling (due to stopping all the time). Moreover (especially on the weekend) they might only come once every 30 minutes, so you usually end up waiting at the bus stop for quite a while. Traditional car rentals are great for day trips, but get rather complicated and expensive for short trips.

The solution for this situation is car sharing: essentially a self-service car rental with support for very short rentals. I have been using Times Car Share, but other big players in the Japanese market are Orix and careco with very similar service and prices. At the end of the day it probably comes down to which one has a station close to where you live.

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PayPay - pay with your phone

Japan is famous for it’s love for cash and the people are very reluctant to use anything else. The government even had a 2-5% cashback program on most cashless payments in 2019-2020 to change this. Even after this, credit cards are often not accepted, especially at smaller shops or restaurants. On the other hand Japan has a handful of barcode-based mobile payment solutions: PayPay, LinePay, auPay, RakutenPay, FamiPay, MerPay etc., out of which PayPay seems to be the most widely accepted (in my experience).

Promo photo of the PayPay app from

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Coke ON - buy from vending machines with your phone

Japan is full of drink vending machines:

Vending machines in rural Tochigi

However I don’t like coins. The vending machines at the train stations usually accept Suica, but elsewhere they are mostly cash only. Or that’s what I thought.

Meet Coke ON, the fun and reasonable (🤨) Coca-Cola official app, which lets you buy drinks from selected vending machines using your phone, paying with credit card, PayPay or LinePay. Moreover you get stamps for each purchase, that gets you a free drink after 15 stamps.

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Getting a .jp domain

I have a super common family name in Hungary: Szabo. It means tailor, and appr. 2% of Hungarians have this family name (203,126 out of 9,730,000). Thus,,,,,, etc. are mostly taken. However I recently checked and was available! Following a Tokyo Cheapo guide I found Star Domain and bought the domain there for 2560 yen/year. (Star Domain has a referral program, so if you use this link, I might earn a little money.)

I already had hosting elsewhere, so I only needed the domain and Star Domain has a pretty straightforward DNS configurator. I read that only people in Japan can register .jp domains, so I expected some verification, but only my phone number was checked and after I paid for the domain, I could use it immediately.

Most part of the site is text based, so Google Translate makes it possible to use it without knowing too much Japanese.

Times Car TCP test

I’ve been using Times Car Share for almost half a year now, and totally love it. I’ll write a separate post about it, but yesterday I took their online quiz for some extra TCP points. As I was googleing some of the questions, I found an older set of questions, so I decided to share the latest ones.

I still think that you should try to complete the quiz alone, as it is used to ensure you are aware of how to use the service properly, but if you failed or just want to double check some answers, here they are.

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