Thursday, May 26, 2011

Renewal of the Alien Registration System

I was under the impression that aliens came from outer space, so when I came to Japan and received my “Certificate of Alien Registration,” I felt—how else can I put it—alienated. I’m sure many of you can relate! However, bills have been passed to abolish the Alien Registration Act and amend the Basic Resident Registration Law to register foreign residents (staying in Japan for more than 90 days) the same way Japanese nationals are registered. We shall be aliens no more!

Once these laws take effect, the Alien Registration counter at local municipalities will be removed and foreign residents will instead register at the same counter as Japanese people. Instead of a “Certificate of Alien Registration” issued from the local municipality, a “Residence (Zairyu) Card” will be issued to applicable foreigners at the port or airport when they enter Japan. One benefit we gain from this change is that re-entry permits will no longer be required when re-entering Japan after going home or abroad. Another is that if there is any change in personal information, resident status, or period of stay, you will only have to notify the Regional Immigration Bureau and no longer need to notify the local municipality as well. Also, Japanese and non-Japanese members of the same household will no longer be on separate registries, and certified copies of the residence record (juminhyo) will list all members of such a household.

A specific date for these changes to take effect has not yet been set, but it will most likely be around July 2012. For more information, please refer to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications website:

TV Renewal – Digitalising the airwaves

Transition from analogue TV to digital has been coming for some time now, and on July 24, all analogue transmissions will be terminated, which means you’ll be left with static if you don’t take the following steps and go digital!

The reason for the switch is apparently to spare up radio waves (up to 33%) for better communications and allow new technologies to be utilised. New cars could be equipped with frequency emitters to warn of potential accidents, and larger bandwidth means that telecommunications can exchange larger amounts of data for videos etc.

To go about getting digital transmission, there are two main methods.
1 – buy a digital compatible TV
2 – install a digital tuner to your analogue TV.

Buying a new digital compatible TV may set you back around 40,000 to 600,000 yen, and a tuner can be bought from about 10,000 yen. Also you may want to make sure your building has had a UHF antenna installed. On either machine, a “B-CAS Card” will need to be inserted in order for digital data to be decrypted and viewed. These will come with a new TV or tuner.

Whether this would be a good excuse to get yourself a new TV, or rid yourself of Japanese television forever, times are catching up with the old cathode tube.

An English guide to the procedures can be found here:

Sightseeing Renewal

The end of the hit NHK TV series Ryomaden also marked the end of the “Deaihaku” pavilion near the south entrance of Kochi Station. This pavilion, together with three other satellite pavilions attracted over 920 thousand visitors last year! Kochi is not letting the fine wooden construction go to waste and is currently renovating the pavilion to make a comeback on July 9 with new displays and new name “Ryoma Furusato Haku.” The main attraction will be a life-sized replica of Ryoma Sakamoto’s house used in the filming of Ryomaden. Souvenir shop and travel information center “Tosa Terrace” next door has already opened again since February 5. Have a look some time!

Regulation on smoking while walking in Kochi City

Smoking whilst walking is an annoyance to some and potentially dangerous because it can risk injuring passers-by. To prevent such injuries and to protect health of its residents, Kochi City enacted the “Prohibition of Smoking While Walking Act” on February 1, 2011.

Renewals in the fast lane

As we all know, Kochi can be a bit behind sometimes when it comes to transport. However, the people behind the grand plans of renewing Kochi’s roads have made some groundbreaking progress of late, with the opening of 2 new sections of the proposed expressway extensions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Renew your body with spring vegetables

Spring has come and you may have noticed spring vegetables lined up at supermarkets and groceries. Spring vegetables such as bamboo shoots, spring cabbage, taranome shoots, new onions, asparagus, and beans have a fresh green color and lovely scents that bring spring to our tables.

Spring is here! Renew your soul!

In this season of new leaves and rebirth, consider going on a trip to cleanse your soul.

You may know that there is the 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Shikoku. They are popular among all ages. The warmer weather makes springtime a popular time for making a pilgrimage. There are many temples in Kochi, from No. 24 in the east to 39 in the west. It can be hard to know where to begin, but you can start with a visit to your nearest temple (map: right).

 If you wish to get some positive energy for the new season, let me introduce you to some of the so-called “Power Spots”. Tosa Shrine (Ikku, Kochi City) is not only famous for the god of success in business, but it has also been the guardian deity of Tosa since it was founded in the year 460.