National Health Insurance Premium

July 12, 2017

All residents in Japan can (required to?) obtain national health insurance, whereas you only pay 30% of all medical fees. It’s a benefit from the government, so it’s pretty simple.

Your premiums differ depending on your prior year’s income. How do they know? There’s a form they mail your registered address around February/March, and you have to fill it up to say how much you’ve earned. As students, we pay the minimum amount, which is around JPY1,300 yen.

Now, what if you forgot to fill up this form?

They charge you the maximum amount, which is around JPY4,500 yen. Oopsie.

But Japan is nice – they know that they have highly unaware, blissful foreigners who don’t even read the mail from the ward office (basically your location’s government office). So you can just go to your ward, and have it corrected. No late charges, no interest, no nothing. But you’ll have to pay your arrears, I think.

This is how I had mine updated – I’m in Koto Ward. (to know your ward, look at your address. The one with -ku on it is the name of your ward. In my case, TIEC is in Koto-ku, so Koto Ward it is)


How to get there

At Tozai Line, Toyocho station, take exit 1. Turn right and walk for around 5-10 minutes (300 meters ish)
At the Ward Office

The entrance is in the second floor, and an information center (with English speakers) is at the entrance.

At the entrance (second floor), go to station 8. In front of the section is a number queue machine. Take a number.

She’ll basically ask you if you worked last year (I think that’s what she said), so I simply said I am a student. She then asked if at worked part time (baito in Japanese) and I said no. She then filled up a tax declaration form, told me to pay a couple of slips (the insurance slips) then made me go up the fifth floor to submit the tax declaration form.

This is the form she filled up. She just asked for my Residence ID and did everything.

I went up to fifth floor, took a queue number (again), and once in the counter, filled up my address, name, birthday and phone number. Oh, and I had to write “student” in one of the boxes.

I was also asked for a hanko (seal), and since I don’t have one, we settled for a fingerprint. He processed some stuff in his computer, returned my tax declaration form, then told me to go home.

Done in 30 minutes!

Of course, the part that took longer was the lady in Station 8. The thing is, she was asking me to pay the three slips which is around JPY14k. So I was confused – was it because I was late in those months? I’m supposed to pay JPY1.4k per month, so imagine having to pay JPY14k for three months! So I kept on saying no, I’m a student!!! She then took an iPad, called a translator from somewhere online, then explained that those are for the whole year. Whew!

Zurich, baby!


May 2, 2017

As the last part of our touristic programme, we stopped at Zurich and had about an hour to explore by foot. The city was quiet, not crowded, and as with St. Gallen, expensive.

I can hear Taylor Swift’s Blank Space in my head. Hello, next victim.
It seems that the chairs outside the restaurants/cafes are indeed a thing in Europe. These, in particular, are worth sharing. These have fur in them. Fur.
Where are we meeting? At the restaurant. Can you imagine how much time and effort it took to name this place?

The Swiss Alps’ Santis


May 2, 2017

To kick off the the conference’s touristic programme, our bus went to the mountain near St. Gallen – Mt. Santis! Probably the most beautify alpine mountain I’ve ever seen (and that includes Mt. Fuji)

Our bus went up a semi-deserted road and passed through these beautiful houses surrounded by snow.
We then took the cable car up to the top of the mountain.
Hello, Swiss Alps!

Abbey of St. Gallen


May 1, 2017

An abbey and a church that is more than a thousand years old, this is one of the key landmarks of St. Gallen. The city started by a man named Gallus, who tripped on a root on his way from the famous lake nearby and deemed such tripping as a sign that he should live there.

It was a pretty nice walk, and I loved the feel of the place. It’s like a peaceful, original version of the 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

I started walking from were I was staying, and the entire neighborhood looked like they were part of a grand theme.
I was walking across the old city, and there were plenty of cafes. Oh, and it had plenty of snow. It wasn’t snowing when I was there. It was raining. and I was freezing. 😦
Then voila! The beacon of chocolate shines bright to my tired eyes!
I stayed in the cafe for at least an hour, enjoying the famed Swiss chocolate and some pastries. I think I paid CHF15ish. Tsk tsk. That’s pretty steep.
After my coffee, I decided to spend the rest of the time inside the church (where it is warm)
The church was pretty huge, of course.
and here’s the abbey right outside.

Schiphol Airport

May 1, 2017

With the exception of the offloading issue, this European airport is a delight. I so loved ING’s campaign of ____, here I come. I initially saw this, not knowing it was a campaign. But it was so fitting. The next week was filled with culture shock!


On my way back, I saw it again. This time, with Tokyo, here I come! Which I found funny ‘coz I AM going to Tokyo.


They had plenty of food, and since I’m a Diners card holder, I was able to maximize the benefits of having that credit card.

Schiphol Airport has plenty of shops and stalls to choose from. I thought that I bought a cheap set of perfume at EUR50 for two bottles, but my classmate said they weren’t cheap. But my fellow flier bought one bottle at CHF90 in Zurich Airport. Well, it’s all relative.

Seeing this reminded me that I AM in the land of tulips! Oh, I wish I could have gone out!

and just some quick comments about Zurich airport – they have plenty of Toblerones! Well, as expected from the motherland of Toblerone:


Huge toblerone. My boot for scale.


April 1, 2017

The things one finds in tripadvisor. This one was not on my list, but I had so much free time I had to scroll for ideas. One that interested me was the FREE robot show. So off I went.

The Robosquare is in now way cutting edge technology. But it’s pretty good for those who are out for a stroll. 🙂