For all Non-reappointing JETs:
  • Please refrain from contacting your successor directly UNTIL your contracting organization has contacted him/her first. 
  • In the meantime, please don't wait until the last minute to fill out the Essential Information for Incoming JETs and prepare other documents/pictures/packets for your successor.  These can really help to ensure a smooth transition for the new JETs!
  • Here is a link to the Leaver's Guide.
Tax Talk for American JETs:
  • 1st year JETs:  The deadline for turning in your 4868 form is June 17.  
  • 2nd-5th year JETs:  The deadline for turning in your 1040, 2555-EZ, and Foreign Earned Income Statement is June 17.  
  • Check out the tax guides here.  A few corrections have been made.  Those are explained further down the page.

Summer YOKA: Call for Submissions
This is a call for 1) submissions for the Summer edition of The YOKA, and 2) a designer to format and design the look of the Summer YOKA.  This YOKA will be sent to all incoming JETs as well, so if you want to pass on some advice or thoughts, this is your chance! 
Please send contributions to the PAs by Monday, July 1.  Or, if you are interested in designing the YOKA please email the PAs by Monday, July 1.  

Tax Guide Corrections
There were some parts of the tax guide that were misleading.  I've corrected them and posted the new version here.  

Tax Guide for 2-5yr American JETs
2555-EZ, line 16
If the number you entered on line 15 is 1.000, the figure on line 16 should be 95,100.00.

Tax Guide for 1st yr American JETs
I changed the amount on line 17 of the 2555-EZ to $14,922.72 from $26,952.72. These are just arbitrary numbers, but the important thing to keep in mind is that you only report the income you earned IN JAPAN in 2012 on line 17 of the 2555-EZ. You write your JET net salary (#3 on the foreign earned income statement example shown in the GIH) AND and money you earned BEFORE JET in 2012 on line 7 of the 1040. 
Please, contain your excitement.  


Learn more about each area in the prefecture. 

Also check out this guide to Kuma-ben in English.  The grammar is very similar to Kumamoto-ben. 

Looking for something to do?  Check out this fantastic list of recommendations by Kumamoto City JET Chris Ott.  Thank you Chris! 

Kumamoto Prefecture records the level of PM 2.5 throughout the prefecture and gives hourly updates on their website:

Getting your Japanese Driver's License
If you spend more than one year in Japan, you cannot drive legally without a Japanese Driver's License.  Even if your International License has not yet expired, you have one year from the original date on your Japanese visa to convert your foreign license into a Japanese one.
Converting a foreign license is a long and tedious process, but with some patience and a little luck it can be done relatively painlessly. Everyone must collect the required documents beforehand, spend several hours completing paperwork at the Menkyo [License] Center, and take an eye test, which costs ¥2400. An additional fee of ¥2050 is collected with each license conversion. JETs with American, South African, Indian, Jamaican, Singaporean or Chinese licenses also need to take a written test and a driving test.  

STEP 1 -  Check that your home country’s license meets certain specific criteria.
It must sa
y “date of issue” or “issue date.”  The date of issue must be at least three months prior to your arrival in Japan.

If your home license uses a different term to refer to the date you received your license or if it does not include this information at all, you will need to obtain a letter from the licensing center in your home country (state/province) stating the date when your license was issued.

If you renewed your license within three months of coming to Japan, you will need to obtain a driving record or letter from the licensing center in your home country (State/Province) stating the date when your first driver’s license was issued.

If you received a license for the very first time within three months of coming to Japan, you will not be able to convert to a Japanese license and will need to obtain a Japanese license from the start (i.e. by attending driving school) in order to drive in Japan.

STEP 2 -  You will need to get your home country’s license officially translated into Japanese.
can only be done at your country’s consulate or the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF). In Kumamoto, it’s easiest to go with JAF. The translation costs ¥3000 and you can get it by mail or in person at the JAF office. Either way, download the application form

By mail (takes one week): send the application form, copy of home license (front and back, in color, and blown up so it is easy to read), and the ¥3000 fee plus ¥380 return postage by genkin kakitome (registered mail for cash) from any post office to the following address:

6-30-30 Nagaminehigashi, Higashi-ku, Kumamoto-shi  〒861-8038

〒861-8038  熊本市東区長嶺東 6-30-30

In person (takes about an hour): take the application form, your home license, and the 3000 fee to the JAF office. It is located where Dai 1 Kuko Dori (#1 Rd to the Airport) passes under the Kyushu Express way.

If you had to get a letter from your home licensing center, you will likely need to pay to get that translated, as well. Call JAF (096-380-9200) to inquire about the process and fees. JAF can only do certain translations, so you might have to go through your consulate.

STEP 3 -  You will also need to prove that you were physically present in the country where the license was issued for more than 3 months after it was issued.
Ideally, this can be done by looking at the stamps in your passport. You may be asked to make a list of the trips you’ve taken and show the page numbers of the stamps that match each border crossing. Make the list in advance to save time. However, if there is an exit or entry stamp missing - many countries do not stamp passports these days – your passport alone will not be sufficient. The simplest way for most people to prove they were present in their home country is to provide university transcripts or a reference letter from a previous employer with dates that show you were there for 3 months. Though the Menkyo Center prefers an original, it is possible to use a photocopy of your transcripts or a reference letter from your JET application if it has an official stamp of authentication (genponshoumei (原本証明) in Japanese) from your Contracting Organization.  Finally, if you use a reference letter, this must also be translated into Japanese (doesn’t have to be an official translation, though).
STEP 4 - Make an appointment and go take the test!
The menkyo center can only take 2-3 non-Japanese residents a day, so make sure to ask your tantosha to call and make an appointment for you.  
The number is 096-233-0116.  Make sure your tantosha has your passport and foreign license in hand when she/he calls, as the menkyo center will ask for the date of issue and date of expiry on both items.  

Applications for transferring licenses are only accepted between 9:30AM and 11:00AM Monday – Friday. The license transfer process is called 外国免許切替(がいこくめんきょきりかえ) in Japanese.  Reservations can be made up to 3 months before your international driver's permit is set to expire. 

When you go to the Menkyo Center, bring the following documents and items:

- Passport

- University Transcripts or Letter of Reference (original or authenticated photocopy) showing that you lived in the country for at least 3 months at some point after you received your license

- Valid Foreign Drivers License

- JAF Translation of Foreign Drivers License

- [An International License is not required, but if you have one it’s not a bad idea to bring it.]

- Residence Card

- Residence Record (住民票) (available at your town office)

- Inkan

- 2 Passport photos (or they can be taken at a booth at the Menkyo Center when you get there)

- Fee money: ¥2200 (if you are applying for an ordinary, Class 1 automobile license.  The application fee for moped licenses is ¥1500.  The application fee for a motorcycle license is ¥3050.)  plus ¥2400 (and ¥700 for the photo booth if necessary)
NOTES:  Everything related to the procedure is conducted in Japanese.  If you do not understand and speak Japanese, you need to bring someone to interpret for you. (In general, a 3kyu level ability or higher will suffice).  

The driving test for motorcycles is only conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  

You cannot take more than one driving test in one day.   

The Menkyo Center is in Kikuyo Town, just north of Kumamoto City.  It is on the same road as the Prefectural Athletic Park (Park Dome/KKWing). Buses leave from platform 14 of the Kotsu Center (main bus terminal) at 8:37, 9:13, 9:32, 10:05, and 10:40. They should say “driver’s license center” on the front.  When you arrive at the center, go up the stairs/escalator to the second floor and turn left. The office is on the left, down a small hallway just before the last set of help/payment windows.


According to the menkyo center, it takes an average of 3-4 times for the average non-Japanese resident to pass the practical driving test.  The practical test is difficult because they are very particular about certain things. To improve your chances of passing on the first try, we STRONGLY recommend going to a driving school to take a few lessons.  You can reserve 50 min. slots with an instructor at a driving school who will sit with you in the car and give you advice while you drive around the course.   Spending some time and money before taking the test at a driving school will not only improve you chances of passing on the first try, it will also save you money in the long run, and potentially save you days of nenkyu as well. 

Toyofuku Driving School (豊福自動車学校、第2教習所), located near the menkyo center, is a good place to practice.  They charge 5,700 yen for 50 minutes, and are open 8:00-17:00 on weekdays, and 8:00-16:00 on sundays.  They are closed saturdays.  Reservations are required, so ask you tantosha to help you:  096-388-0509.  

There are other driving schools that offer similar services throughout the prefecture, so if you live far from the menkyo center check with your tantosha to see if there is a driving school nearby.  Good luck!

・If you have been to a good English-speaking doctor, please email the PAs about it.

・Good luck with the new semester of classes! 

Important upcoming dates:

・Starting in October - New ES/JHS ALT School Visits  
Upcoming Events:

・September 5 - Taco Night, 7PM at Tortacos, Kumamoto City
・September 26 & 27 - Ashikita Beach Party, Otachimisaki Park, Ashikita, check-in starts at 4PM
Area Guide


Copyright held in the year posted by individual contributors.  All rights are reserved by holders. Unless otherwise noted in postings, all content is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.  Any events advertised here are listed as a courtesy only. As such, information here is subject to change. This is a public forum and KumamotoJET accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, advertising, or comments made in posts past, present or future. In addition, KumamotoJET will not be held liable for any problems or expenses that are the results of any information contained within this website. Furthermore, KumamotoJET will take no responsibility for any accidents, injuries, or medical conditions acquired in attendance of events advertised here. If there is an error, offensive comment or if you require further information, please contact the site administrator.