How to Pay your Utility Bills in Japan

Nobody likes paying bills, but paying your bills in a foreign country can be pretty scary. That’s why, the first time I got (what I thought was) a utilities bill in the mail, I frantically called my boyfriend, Ryosuke, to have it explain it.

Paying for anything in Japan can be a little confusing. Most restaurants or shops don’t accept credit cards. I have to pay for my apartment by an automatic bank transfer each month; I have my land-lady’s bank routing and account number. In fact, the dorms at ICU also make you pay by automatic bank transfer (in a very confusing fashion, several of my friends have already started to freak out about it a little bit).

So I couldn’t imagine what kind of horrors accompanied paying my electric, gas, and water bills.

But it turns out that my fears were unfounded. Paying utility bills is remarkably easy in Japan.

How to Pay your Bills in Japan

1. Wait for the 検針票(kenshinhyou) to arrive in the mail for each utility. This isn’t actually the bill, though, so watch out. You cannot pay this. Instead, the Kenshinhyou is a “notice of payment” or a receipt that shows you, for instance in my water kenshinhyou, exactly how much water I spent. They typically arrive at different times, somewhere around the middle of the month – over the span of about a week.

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For instance, these are my three Kenshinkyou’s that I got in the mail (I send this picture to Ryosuke, so he could figure out when I had to pay by). I used 664¥ worth of gas, 1,481¥ worth of electricity, and 1,111¥ worth of water. So in total, about 40 dollars, which isn’t horrible.

2. Wait for the actual bill to arrive in the mail. Now that you know how much you have to pay, wait about a week (sometimes a little more) for the actual bills to arrive by post.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t have to pay my gas bill (about 8 dollars) because they said it was too low. With gas, they compound your fee until it reaches over 1,500¥ worth of gas.

3. Once all your bills have arrive, got to any convenience store, (such as 7-11, Lawsons, Family Mart, etc) to pay. As far as I can tell, any conbini works just fine.

4. Take your bills to the register and pay. You can also buy food. For instance, this time we also got some BBQ potato chips for our How I Met Your Mother marathon tonight. They will stamp your bill, rip off part of it to keep, and give you the other half as proof of purchase.

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(what they gave me after I paid)

See? Wasn’t that easy? If only I could actually pay for my apartment the same way…

 

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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

14 Comments on How to Pay your Utility Bills in Japan

  1. Virginia // 10 April, 2015 at 7:02 pm //

    Hello, thank you so much to share this with us. I can say I don’t understand how pay this. I received the same papers but when I went to the conbini they told me that it was not possible for me to pay.

  2. Ariel F. Lind // 2 November, 2014 at 12:38 am //

    I’m very sorry about the url title. I neglected to see what the picture’s source was called, and for that I am very, very sorry. Lesson learned: pay more attention. Despite the…er…interesting url, I hope you still find the image amusing. I’m really curious about if apartments like that really exist…I hope there are some in America!

    Once again, I’m so sorry about the url.

  3. Ariel F. Lind // 2 November, 2014 at 12:33 am //

    You know, you recently reminded me of a picture I saw when on Bing (yes, I use Bing…) Images while doing research on Tokyo apartments. I typed in “amazing tokyo apartments”–with the same logic that one types in “epic videogames” knowing full well they may not be able to afford them…but hey, it’s fun ^u^–and I found this picture…

    http://www.foundshit.com/pictures/design/reversible-apartments-01.jpg

    So now, I’m wondering if you’ve ever seen an apartment building like this? Does Japan really have apartment buildings like this? If so, that is so cool.

    • Those are actually some pretty famous apartments (they’re SUPER expensive to live in, though, or so I’ve heard). I actually used to live about a 10 min bike ride away from them, so I often passed them on the way to the supermarket.

      You probably won’t find such awesome apartments if you move to Japan and live in a regular place, though.

  4. Wow this seems easy! I love your blogs! It makes me feel a little less stressed about moving to Japan in the future. Keep up your awesome writing!

    • Thank you so much :)

      I think I got really stressed out when I first got to Japan (apartment hunting, etc) – but once you get the hang of it, it’s really “easy” to live in Tokyo.

  5. Thank you for this post! Quick question: when you take your bill to the cashier, will they accept credit cards for payment?

    • No, they usually don’t. You have to pay by cash :(
      HOWEVER, if you pay at at 7-11, all stores have an ATM that accepts foreign credit/debit cards (with a 1-2 dollar charge). That’s how I paid all my bills/got spending money.

  6. Hey, thanks for this great post! I was confused by the kenshinhyou.

  7. I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day!

  8. That’s easier than here. I actually had to call the electric company because I hadn’t seen a bill and we were already half way through the second month. How many people call to complain that their bill hasn’t arrived yet? :-)

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