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How about help from the Japan Legal Support Center (or “Hoterasu”) ?

At the Japan Legal Support Center (also known as “Hoterasu”), foreign residents in Japan can get access to the following services:

  • Information regarding various procedures and methods to solve legal problems.
  • For people with a low source of income (and a recognized status of residence), it is possible to consult with a lawyer for free, or one can pay the consulting fees at a later time. Interpreters are also available.
  • Besides phone consultations, it is also possible to have meetings in person (although only in Japanese)

Japan Legal Support Center - Ibaraki Branch

Address: Ibaraki-Ken, Mito-Shi, Omachi 3-4-36 omachi Biru 3rd floor

Phone: 050-3383-5390 (Weekdays btw 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.)

All-Japan Contact Information (Japanese and English both OK)

0570-078374 (Weekdays btw 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. / on Saturday btw 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.)

Communication series
  • Kon’nichiwa, Arigato
    Sayonara, arigato……these words are fundamental to daily life in Japan . You will find a big difference in people’s reaction between the case when those words are used and that when not. Please try to master some basic Japanese.
  • Money will solve……
    Some people, who break the rules and regulations, often think that “money will solve the problem.” Unlike some countries, here in Japan , it might not be that simple.
  • Non-verbal communication
    For Japanese people, words are not always the whole message. Compared to the western world, Japanese people use non-verbal cues like body language, personal space, eye contact, silence, intuition, and mood in different ways.
    No matter how you say something in English or in Japanese, the message may be misunderstood because of some of these factors. Also, some words, such as yes and no, have different meanings depending on the circumstances.
    In Japan , non-verbal cues have a very important role in creating a trusting relationship. Let’s compare some non-verbal and verbal cues with what we are used to from back home.
  • Silence
    There is an old English saying “Silence is Golden”, and this may well apply to the Japanese people. Some westerners may feel uncomfortable with the length of pauses used by Japanese people. It is believed that it is better to say nothing than say something that will offend another or cause them to lose face. Also, silence is used to fully consider what is being saying.
  • Indirectness
    Similar to the reason for lengthy silences, sometimes Japanese people will be indirect to cover theirs or your embarrassment. This is to maintain group harmony. Saying a direct “no” is uncommon. For example, if they disagree with something, instead of saying “no”, they may say “it could be difficult” or "we will think about it," and leave it up to you to make the link in your own time.
  • Yes and No
    “Yes” doesn’t always mean “yes” and as mentioned previously, “no” might be said in a different way. In conversation you will often here Japanese people saying “Yes, yes”. It is often that they acknowledge what you are saying, but not necessarily agreeing. Nodding can mean a similar thing. Care should be taken to understand what this “yes” really refers to.
  • Facial Expressions
    Most Japanese people have an impassive expression when speaking or listening. Frowning while someone is speaking is interpreted as a sign of disagreement.
    In direct opposition to the western way of thinking, direct eye contact is considered rude or aggressive. Japanese people are taught to look at someone’s neck or tie instead.
  • Personal Space
    Japanese tend to keep a greater personal space than westerners, but when it comes to crowded trains there are no holds bared. Touching and kissing in public are no-no’s.
  • Bowing
    Handshaking is becoming more popular, but a simple bow is the common way to greet someone. The depth of a bow will differ with social status, but an easy rule of thumb is to bow the same depth as the person you are greeting.
  • Inappropriate laughter and smiles
    Japanese people sometimes seem to laugh and smile at times when Westerners may not. Laughter is often used to cover feelings such as nervousness, shock, embarrassment, confusion and disapproval.
  • Sleeping
    In Japan , attendance is more important than actual participation. It is common to see students sleeping in class or even politicians sleeping in the national diet.
  • Hand gestures
    Westerners love using their hand to talk and express themselves, but this is not so common in Japan . There are however some hand signals that have slightly different meaning in Japan . For example, a signal that looks like “shooing away” actually means “come here”. Fanning one hand in front of your face means “no” or “no thank you”.
  • Sitting and standing
    Japanese people don’t tend to cross their legs when sitting or put their hands in their pockets as it is considered lazy. Its also rude to show the soles of your shoes or feet. When sitting on a chair, have both feet on the ground.


Table Manner

Here are some general rules and recommendations when you eat with Japanese people.

  • “Itadakimasu” and “Gochis?sama”
    The first one focuses on your gratitude when receiving the meal.
    The second emphasizes how great the meal was. A bow is also well appreciated.

  • Drinking
    When served a drink, it is common sense to serve back. When being served, hold your glass with both hands and thank with a slight bow of the head. When your glass is full, immediately (but carefully) put it on the table and hint you are going to serve back. Serve with both hands. Receiving and offering with both hands is showing how much you care about the whole thing.

  • Do not
    - Speak with food in your mouth
    - Pass food around with chopsticks or plant your chopsticks in your food (both refer to rituals following the death of an individual)
    - Eat before the most important people in the room has not given the “go”.
    - Assume. If you do not know, ask. OR, try hesitantly.

  • It is OK
    - Not to eat something you do not like. Just say “Chotto…” right after the name of the food you are given
    - To produce a sound when having a soup or ramen etc…
    - To mimic people around you and ask for their guidance.

School Life and Children's Parents
School life on compulsory education starts in April in Japan, different from most other countries. When your child reaches six years old as of April 1, you will most probably receive a notice on his/her entrance into a school, physical checkup and meeting for guidance of school life and requirements concerned. If you find any questions school entrance, please have a contact with the Board of Education in your city.
Typical expenses and the events, in which parents of boys and girls are involved, are described as follows.

(1) When your child begins to go to school, you pay a membership fees and become a member of Parent-Teacher Association(PTA). Kodomo-kai (Children Association)is organized to assist students in all scope of life, and sometimes it collects old newspapers, magazines for making funds for activities like trip, summer festivals, etc.

(2) Textbooks only are provided free of charge, and you need to pay for school lunch, a sweat suit, etc.

(3) School events
 ・Physical checkup: In March, you receive a notice of physical checkup and intelligence test.
 ・Entrance ceremony:In April, students go to school, accompanied by their parents.
 ・Homeroom teacher’s visit: In May, a homeroom teacher comes to pupil’s home to see his/her parents. This is a chance for parents to collect information of theirchild at school and exchange opinion with a teacher.
 ・School field day: In September, the program for field day often includes the games in which parents play with students and sometimes each other among themselves.
 ・Outing: In October, a few members of parents may be requested to accompany children.
 ・Crossing supervisor: In many cases schoolchildren walk to school in a group and their parents are required to work as a crossing supervisor. Frequency of this role depends on the group of your child.
 ・A part of maintenance work, like weeding the playground, is requested on some occasions.

Wedding ceremony and reception (Kankon-sosai)
  • Wedding ceremonies are performed in principle on special ceremonial sites. It is common to hold receptions in a reception hall of a fancy hotel or a wedding hall.
  • From Japanese to Western style, ways of celebrating are many. The parties concerned decide on the form and course of the celebration.
  • Only people who were sent out an invitation can attend (there are not enough seats at the venue usually so not all members of the newly-wed can be present)
  • Formal attire is the norm. Women are expected to avoid white clothing (in order not to steal the bride’s thunder)
  • One should be aware of “congratulatory gifts” or Sh?gi. One presents the couple with money to express his/her congratulations. The money is given at the front desk. The amount of money one is expected to give differs according to the type of relationship with the couple and with age (for example, a friend from university will give around 30.000 yen.) New, crispy bills are more appreciated than used ones.
  • When one comes from a very remote place to attend the ceremony the bride (or groom, or parents of the bride or the groom) can sometimes give back up to half the travel expenses incurred.
  • The matchmaker, or Nako-Udo is a go-between that assists in arranging meetings for possible marriage between two persons. In case of a “love-based marriage” (Ren-ai-Kekkon) it is not rare to have a hierarchical superior perform this task. Nowadays, marriages without matchmakers are becoming more common.
  • Before the wedding the parties concerned used to gather altogether and exchange betrothal gifts or Yuin? (the man giving a wedding ring to the woman and the woman giving a wrist watch to the man.) but recently all this has been simplified into a simple meal/dinner. During this ceremony, both families get connected and exchange gifts. The family of the groom usually gives the bride’s family money and good-luck talismans. It is a private ritual between both families but by so doing they both agree on a single promise “We are getting married.”
  • In Japan, people still at the new couple this way very strongly: the woman, as bride, enters her husband’s home. The law lets the couple decide which name they will be using for their family but the male’s name is, by tradition, more used than the woman’s.


  • The Japanese funeral ceremony can be split into 3 major steps. The wake (Ts?ya), a funeral service (Kokubetsu-Shiki), and a Buddhist memorial service (H?y?-Kuy?). One wears a memorial dress/attire (Mofuku) for all 3 of them. Even the necktie should be black. Women dress modestly. If anything they can wear a pearl necklace that should not be too shiny.
  • Bereaved families mourn an entire year, meaning that they do not participate in any celebration nor do they send any greeting card to anyone.
  • Money (Ok?den) is offered to the departed soul. The amount of money given differs according to the relationship one used to have with the deceased. Amounts usually start from 30.000 yen and should not be given with new bills.
  • From ancient and especially in the mythology, it has been believed that salt holds purification properties. As a consequence, someone is in charge of throwing salt in the deceased’s house before entering it on the way back from the funeral service.
  • During the Ts?ya, the night preceding the funeral service, relatives and friends gather and talk together all night long about the deceased.
  • During the Kokubetsu-Shiki, people attending the ceremony pray for happiness in the next world by burning incense at the altar, while listening to sutras chanted by a monk. The coffin (Hitsugi) is then carried to a crematorium by hearse (Reiky?sha.)
  • H?y?-Kuy? can differ from regions and sects but it is frequent to mourn 7 days, then 49 days, 100 days and a year after someone’s death.


  • Obon refers to a Japanese event during which one pays respect to the soul of their ancestors on July 15th. Today, more and more areas celebrate Obon in the midst of August.
  • The burning-off the fields (Nobi) is called Mukaebi (Welcoming fire your returning spirits.) and is performed in front of the main entrance of one’s home. In some places in the countryside, the tradition of going to the grave to welcome the spirit of the departed is still on. After welcoming the soul of one’s ancestors, a monk is usually invited over to chant some sutras and provide a Buddhist service.
  • The send-off fire on the end on Obon (16th) is called Okuribi. The spirit of one’s ancestor goes back to “the other world” (the “other bank or shore”, the pure land as imagined by the Buddha)
  • It is an established practice for a large majority of Japanese people to pay a visit to the cemetery. This also means a national leave just like year-end holidays and the long holidays of the Golden Week in April-May. This creates an opportunity for many people to go back to their hometown and to enjoy some vacation.

Ohigan (Days of spring and autumn equinox and their immediate preceding and following days)

  • It is an event during which one celebrates the soul of his/her ancestors
  • During Ohigan, there is nothing as formal as during Obon. Generally people just pay a family visit to the cemetery.
  • Families clean the gravestone as well as its circumference, pay tribute by burning some incense, make offerings such as sweets. Then just before joining hands to pray, one sprinkles the gravestone from its top with a bucket full of water.