HOW TO: Print in Japan Without Owning a Printer

Japan, print, online, printer

My first months here in Japan I found myself needing to print things more often than I would have thought before arriving. I didn't have a printer (and still don't) and I would print things out at work when it was necessary to have something in paper form.

Sometimes though, it was a hassle. And I felt bad for using the printers at school for non-work related things. I wasn't really sure what other options I had.

Until one day when I was making copies at the 7-11 (convenience store) near my apartment. While going through the process of entering the information for my copies, I noticed a sign that said "net print" in katakana. Though I couldn't read everything at the time, it appeared that I could possibly print documents out here, at this machine, at my local 7-11.

I went home, typed in the URL and signed up for an account. Soon enough I was regularly printing my documents out at 7-11 with ease and didn't have to worry about doing it at work (although, let's be honest, I did on occasion. Especially when my co-workers were all in a meeting that I was not required to attend).

So, here are three places (that I'm aware of) you can print documents if you don't have a printer at home (I won't go into photos in this post, but you can also print photos at these places):

1. FedEx Kinko's - You can find these if you live in one of the following major cities: Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, or Kobe.

2. 7-11 - This convenience store has a "net print" (ネットプリント) service from Fuji Xerox. You upload a file to your account, go to a nearby store and print it out at the copy machine. This seems to be available in most, if not all, stores. Scroll down for a step-by-step guide on how to set up an account (a post is coming on how to upload and print the documents once you've set up an account). You can print pdfs from a USB drive also - but only PDFs and images, not docs (although it's usually better to print via pdf, to maintain the information in the document.)

I've received some criticism about this service (basically saying if you have a USB drive there's no need to make an account, etc.) I disagree. You can't print PDFs off USB drives at all stores, and what if you really want to print a .doc or whatever. It's easy to print or export as a PDF, though, too. But I see uploading it from your computer as much trouble as sticking it on a drive. But then you don't have to carry the drive. Or what if you're out and about and need to print something off your smartphone (has happened to me a few times)? You can upload on your phone and print it off at the store, easy.

Can't read the Japanese? I made guides below, and will make another for how to upload/print at the store. In the end, do whatever method will work for you, (although remember it won't work everywhere), but please don't criticize the (free) work I'm doing for others who might want to use this service. Thanks.

3. Circle K - A similar service to 7-11, but this convenience store calls their service from Sharp, "network print service" (ネットワークプリントサービス). They've only recently been implementing this, so it may not be available everywhere yet, but I'm sure if not it will be soon. Below you'll find a step-by-step guide on how to set up an account (a post is coming on how to upload and print the documents once you've set up an account).

A fourth option might include an internet cafe, if you're planning to visit one for an hour or two, but probably not the best choice if you want to quickly print something out.

Do you know of any other places to print out documents in Japan? Let us know in the comments!


How to sign up for a print service account with Circle K

Step 1 
Click the long pink button (アカウントを作成する) to create a free account.

Step 2 
This page explains a few things and lists the terms. Click "同意する" to agree and continue.

Step 3 
Enter your email address twice and click "通信" to submit. 

Step 4
This is the confirmation page. You'll receive an email with a link in it. Click on that link.

Step 5
After clicking on the link in the email you received, you'll arrive at the following page.

Enter your name and choose whether you want your login information to include a user number and name/password combo, or just a name/password combo (more secure). Then click 次へ.

Step 6
Enter your desired password (twice) between 8 and 32 characters. Then click 次へ.

Step 7
Finally, review the information and click 次へ to continue. Click the blue button on the left to go back.

Step 8
The final page to show up is the confirmation page, and you should also receive an email.

That's it!


How to sign up for a print service account with 7-11

Step 1 
Go to this page and click ユーザー登録する to create a new account.

Step 2
The next page shows the terms and some general information. Click 同意する to agree and continue.

Step 3
The next page briefly talks about the privacy policy (there's a blue link to it to read it). Click 承諾します (agreeing to the information listed) to continue.

Step 4
Next, you'll want to fill in your information, including name, name in katakana, phone number, email address, a user id between 3 and 16 characters, how you heard about the service, and if you want to receive emails from them or not. Once you've filled it all out, click the button on the far left to continue.

Step 5
Check over the information to confirm it's correct and click the button on the left to submit.

Step 6
You'll see the following page next. Check your email and click the link in that box. Proceed to step 7.

Step 7
Choose a password and type it again in the second box. Click submit to continue.

Step 8
Confirm the information.

Step 9
You're finished! Now click the button to return to the main page to login.

Smartphone Applications for 7-11 and Circle K Print Services

Both printing services for 7-11 and Circle K have free apps you can use to upload files (documents and photos) directly from your smartphone. The apps are Japanese-only. For the iPhone/iPad apps, you must download through the Japan iTunes store.

"netprint" is the 7-11 app, available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows phone. More on netprint mobile services here (Japanese).

"ネットワークプリント" is Circle K's print service app, available for iPhone, iPad, and Android. More on those applications here (Japanese).

Next up: How to upload and print the documents via these services.

Do you know of any resources for printing in Japan without owning a printer? Let us know below!

30 Worthwhile Japan Links From the Past 2 Weeks (Feb 26)

A street-side shop in Fujieda, Shizuoka, Japan.
Welcome back to another edition of Surviving in Japan's Top Japan Links. We've got Old Navy coming to Japan, Ikea opening in Kyushu, Mister Donut and Mos Burger joining forces, an all-you-can-eat-sushi joint in Tokyo, a chance for free tickets to Japan, a shorter travel distance from Narita to Tokyo, an emotional app, entertaining rabbits, in-style tomato juice, and many other interesting, useful, more serious (and fun) links from around the web. Enjoy! -Ashley

Living in Japan

Firms have few grounds to refuse staff paid leave (Japan Times) - The helpful folks from the Tokyo Public Law Office take over the Lifelines column for the week (they answer legal questions the second week of every month) to address paid leave rights of employees. Yes, employees are entitled to paid leave, no matter what their employer says.

Gap to open 1st Old Navy store in Japan (Japan Today) - Old Navy fans rejoice! I hope they put in more than one...

Flu season has peaked nationwide, say health officials (Japan Today) - Let's hope it has peaked and this whole flu business is now over with.

Softbank to launch new high-speed mobile data service (Japan Today)

Ikea to open first Kyushu outlet (Japan Times) - Any Ikea fans in Kyushu?

Climate Model Predicts Longer Rainy Season in Future Japan (Japan for Sustainability) - A longer rainy season. Wonderful. Just what we all want...

Are You a Racist? This Guy is... [Interview]

Today I'm thrilled to introduce to you Baye McNeil, also known as "Loco," of the popular blog, Loco in Yokohama. A glance at his site and you'll quickly notice that not only does his content set him apart from other bloggers, but his stellar writing stands out as well. He has a knack for mingling words in a way that engages and entertains you, but also makes you think. And he goes straight to reality - what actually happens in Japan every day, at work, out and about, interactions with Japanese folks and foreigners alike. He doesn't complain or whine about life, but paints realistic scenes and then turns inward to examine his own response to various situations.

Baye is a good guy and has been kind and encouraging to me since I joined the Japan blogosphere. I'm so excited for him that he's just published his first book, and believe me when I say, it's good. I'm a tough critic. I don't give praise for these types of things lightly, but I believe Baye's book is worth it.

Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist, a perhaps seemingly controversial book title, takes a look at his life journey from New York City to Japan, and the many events in between, and examines how racism and culture have played out in his life in each place. Although rather than complain or criticize those around him, he turns the tables towards himself. He's honest about the mistakes and choices he's made. It's raw. This guy has really lived life.

As he goes through the scenes of his life, it might make you feel uncomfortable at times. But that, I think, is what makes this book worth reading. Change doesn't occur when we're comfortable, and I think Baye is on to something with that.

HOW TO: Schedule a Redelivery with Sagawa

Last week I showed you how to create an online account with Sagawa so that this week you can learn how to request a redelivery with Sagawa completely online. All you need is your account already set up (make sure you know your username and password) and the missed delivery slip left by the driver.

Step 1
Go to Sagawa's main site and find the login area on the right hand side (see red outline below). Enter your username and password (the ones you chose when you set up an account from the previous post).

Step 2
Once you've logged in, scroll down until you see the redelivery kanji (surrounded by a red box in the picture below). Says Web再配達受付サービス. 再配達 is redelivery (さいはいたつ).

Step 3
Make sure the store number is correct (the redelivery slip they left for you will indicate the correct number, and if your address is listed in the account the default store number should automatically show up.

Enter the tracking number in the next blank space, and click 次へ to continue.

Step 4
Choose your requested redelivery date and time in the top two slots (if desired - otherwise leave them as their default options). Then check that your personal information is correct (phone number and address).

If you want to receive a confirmation message, choose which option (computer or cell phone, or the third option "don't send," if you don't want one). Enter your email address twice and click 次へ to continue.

Step 5
Check over your information to ensure everything is correct, and then press 受付 to submit. You should receive a confirmation email if you chose that option.

Congrats! You've successfully requested a Sagawa redelivery online.

You may also want to check out:
HOW TO: Get something redelivered (online) (Japan Post)
HOW TO: Arrange redelivery online with Yamato (Kuroneko)
HOW TO: Create an online account with Yamato (Kuroneko)  

Attention Pinterest and Instagram Users

For all you avid pinners and phone photographers, just want to you let you know that Surviving in Japan (currently pictured as myself - Ashley) is now on Pinterest and Instagram (survivinginjapan).

Pinterest is a virtual "pinboard" where you can "pin" any image you might come across while browsing the web. You can follow others' pinboards, and you can browse all pins that are shared publicly, "repinning" onto your own boards if you'd like, liking or leaving comments. It's already hugely popular among foodies, fashionistas and all other creative types (but it isn't only good for those fields). It's still invite-only, so if you don't have access to an invite and would like one, let me know (I'll need an email address to send it to you).

I'm experimenting on Pinterest but I'm working on boards you might like such such as "Products for Living in Japan," "Where to Go in Japan," and "Japan Photos," among others. You can find my boards here.

Follow Me on Pinterest

As for Instagram, it's an iPhone-only app for sharing photos. I just joined the bandwagon, so perhaps many of you are already using it. Would love to connect with you there as well and see/share photos. Username is survivinginjapan.

My family is recovering from the flu, but look forward to how to do an online redelivery with Sagawa in the next few days.

25 Useful and Informative Japan Links From the Past 2 Weeks

Sunset outside a train station in summer. I miss summer. Desperately.
Here we are with another round of Top Japan Links from the past two weeks. I'm now sick with the flu and trying to prevent the baby from catching it. So whilst I try to rest and recover, please enjoy, and have a lovely Valentine's Day! -Ashley

Living in Japan

Flu outbreak hits more than 2.11 million nationwide (Japan Today) - I'm now one of those numbers, unfortunately. Please be careful...

Depression is a national ailment that demands open recognition in Japan (Japan Times)

Police caution more than 10,000 in Tokyo for breaking bicycle rules (Japan Today) - Look out Tokyo cyclists on the 10th of each month.

Government to create new child care program in '15 (The Daily Yomiuri) - This is essentially to combine kindergartens and day care centers.

More part-timers to become eligible for health insurance, pension programs (Japan Today)

Japan takes #1 spot for most shipments from U.S. (Japan Today) - Expats living in Japan aren't the only ones ordering from abroad! Also talks about a useful company that can act as your U.S.-based address.

Tokyo, Saitama, Kagoshima enter Hay Fever season (The Daily Yomiuri) - Link is in Japanese, but if you have Springtime allergies, you may want to start your preparations...

Privacy and Net cafes — a tale of two cities (Japan Times) - I had no idea sexual assault happens in internet cafes. What do you think, how private should internet cafes be?

Immigration cuts lengthy detention for foreigners (Japan Times) - Hopefully you never find yourself in this situation, though.

On a similar note, @lkp48 said "Narita now has signs saying "you must produce your alien card" if you hold a reentry permit." - Has anyone else seen this?

KDDI's 'au Smart Pass' offers unlimited app download at flat rate (Japan Today) - Starting from March 1st.

24% of coastal municipalities lack plans for issuing evacuation alerts (Japan Times) - This is a bit disconcerting... 

Just for Fun

Gundam park to open in Odaiba (Japan Times) - Gundam is no longer in Shizuoka, but you can check him out now in Odaiba.

Let’s Get a Foursquare Limited Tokyo Badge! (Asiajin) - If you're on Foursquare and are or will be in Tokyo in the near future, you may want to get this special, limited-time badge.

On Finding a Rubbish Bin in Japan (This Japanese Life) - I had never thought it could possibly be related to the sarin gas attacks...

Why Japan doesn't celebrate the Lunar New Year to the extent of its Asian neighbors (JETwit) - Did you know that many of the current holidays should have been changed/moved when Japan switched from the lunar calendar? Neither did I.

Hello Kitty's Citizenship Controversy: Is She British or Japanese? (TIME) - I am most amused that they actually called Sanrio about the whole thing. 

Automatic dishwashers: the square peg in the round hole of Japanese kitchens (Yen for Living) - Ever wonder why finding a "real" automatic dishwasher is so difficult in Japan? (I'm not counting those countertop things as the same, as I'm skeptical they work as well - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).


Would you order curry with everything on it from CoCo Ichiban? (Rocket News 24) - This looks and sounds truly disgusting. Would you try it? 

Okonomiyaki – Japanese Savory Pancake, Osaka Style (Lovely Lanvin) - Who doesn't like okonomiyaki?

Fukushima Nuclear Crisis/Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami-related

What to do if You're in a Car Accident in Japan - Part 3

Editor's note: This is part 3 and the final post in the "What to do if You're in a Car Accident" series, written by David Thompson. If you haven't yet, be sure to read part 1 and part 2. This series is a must-read for anyone driving in Japan. -Ashley

I wish I could tell you that the beginner driver’s course was a great experience. However, as you all can probably imagine, it wasn’t. The morning consisted of a written driver’s aptitude test, group discussion, and driving practice on the school’s course. It was during the group discussion time that I was able to ask a lot of questions which I will share with you all shortly.

After a lunch break, we went out into onto the actual streets for driving practice, used a really expensive driving simulator to simulate braking in bad conditions, and then spent the rest of the time talking. While this might not sound that bad, the eight-hour course only had about five hours of actual content and we spent the other three hours talking, which is not something I wanted to be doing when I had an upset baby and exhausted wife waiting for me at home. It’s important to note that since the detailed contents of the course are determined by each driving school, this can differ depending on where you go.

The driving simulator:

Well, enough of that, let’s get to the interesting stuff I learned during the morning discussion.

Words to know:
交通違反こうつういはんkoutsuu ihantraffic violation
点数制度てんすうせいどtensuu seidopoint system
基礎点数きそてんすうkisotensuubase points
付加点数ふかてんすうfukatensuuadditional points
免許停止めんきょていしmenkyo teishisuspended license (免停 for short)
免許取消しめんきょとりけしmenkyo torikeshilicense revocation

For Beginner Drivers 
Japan has a strict traffic violation system, especially for beginner drivers. For the majority of you that got to skip this beginner year when you got your license, congratulations! The rest of you (including myself), beware!

Take a look at this diagram:

As a beginner driver, if you don’t get into any accidents or have any traffic violations that add up to three points (will talk about the point system in "For All Drivers" below) in your first year of driving, you move on with no problems (blue line in diagram). However, even the slightest accident or violation, which you might have gotten away with only a ticket or a slap on the wrist if you weren’t a beginner, will somehow end up being three points or more and will force you to take the beginner driver’s course I had to take (first yellow box on the left).

If you take the course (second yellow box from the left) and don’t cause any more problems in the remainder of your first year, you are good to go (yellow line).

On the other hand, if you somehow fail to take the course or get any sort of traffic violation before your beginner year ends (first red box from the left and red box after "Take Beginner's Course" in yellow), then you have to take the full 100 question written test (that almost all of us didn’t have to take if you had your driver’s license from your home country translated). If you pass, congratulations, but don’t cause any more problems in your first year. If you fail the test, which is most likely since the passing rate for beginner drivers in this case is only 5%, your license gets revoked.

For All Drivers 
Japan’s traffic violations (交通違反) have a point based system (点数制度). Whatever infraction points you get for any accident or violation will add up over a three-year period and as you reach certain point totals there are penalties. Not to mention that certain violations also come with fines and/or jail time.

Here’s a diagram of the point totals and their corresponding penalties (definitions for terms in kanji are above).

How many points do you get for what kind of violation? Here’s a picture of part of the list (not all violations are translated below):

You can also find the list online at the following links (Japanese only, but you can use Rikaikun for Chrome or Rikaichan for Firefox to translate terms, or copy/paste to an online/computer dictionary, or use Google Translate):

Traffic Violation Points pg. 1
Traffic Violation Points pg. 2  

The website above also lists the jail time for certain violations. I tried to find the list in English but wasn’t able to so if anyone knows where to find one, please let us know.

As you can see from the list, driving with any sort of blood alcohol level will basically get your license revoked. The list in the links is slightly different from the one displayed above, as they say, "酒気帯び
点数" and have two numbers separated by a slash (e.g. 14/25). The number on the left indicates if blood alcohol level is below .25 and the number on the right is if your blood alcohol level is above. Points are also `added on if you injured someone in an accident.

What happens if your license is revoked? During your probation period (minimum of a year) you will be required to take a course for people who have had their license revoked. However, in order to take the course you must acquire a temporary license (good for only six months), so you also have to take that test and pass. After that you will have to go through the process of getting your license which can be split into two different options.

Option A: More expensive but quicker.
After completing the course previously mentioned, you can enroll in a driving school during your probation period. After graduating from the school and once your probation period ends, head to the licensing center and take the written test. If you pass you will get your license.

Option B: Takes longer but cheaper
After completing the course, instead of enrolling in a driving school, you can choose to practice driving (on actual streets) instead. This method will require you to obtain a minimum of 10 certified practice hours, which means you will need someone in the car with you to sign off on your hours and these must be completed no earlier than three months before you go to get your license again. After your probation period is over you can head to the licensing center and take the written and practical tests. If you pass, you will be required to take a short class when you get your license and then also take a high speed driving course before you can get your license.

Things to avoid:
  • Drinking and driving (like I mentioned above)
  • Telling a police officer you were tired while driving (automatic 25 points, which gets your license revoked with a 2 year probation)
Other random pieces of information:
  • Not stopping long enough at a railroad crossing is a two point infraction and a 9,000 yen fine (for a 普通 car)
  • Driving more than 3km in the right line when you’re not passing someone can get you pulled over
  • Driving while using your cell phone is a one point infraction and 6,000 yen fine, but if the cell phone causes you to drive dangerously or cause an accident, it is 2 points and a 9,000 yen fine.
All fines must be paid within eight days. Failure to pay the fine on time will require you to appear at the Notification Office in person and you will then be given 11 days to pay. Failure to pay means you will be required to appear in court.

So there you have it. The bottom line is, of course, try not to get in a car accident or get a traffic infraction in Japan, but if it is does happen, hopefully now you have a better idea of what that will entail.


David Thompson is currently in his fifth and final year on the JET Program, teaching English at a technical high school. When he's not busy trying to convince teenage boys to pay attention in class, he helps coach baseball at the school (officially), helps Ashley with research and checking Japanese for accuracy, and takes care of baby Ai-chan. He's currently looking for a full-time job in Japan starting in August/September, particularly if it involves working with youth and/or non-profit organizations. You can check out his credentials on LinkedIn.

HOW TO: Create an online account with Sagawa

Next week a post is coming on how to arrange a redelivery online with the delivery company Sagawa. If you don't want to bother with calling (or find it too difficult), arranging a redelivery online is quick and easy once you've signed up and done it a few times. However, in order to do that, you first need to make an account, which I explain below.

Step 1 

Go to this page (shown below).

Enter your email address twice, choose computer or cell phone email, and click the blue button on the left to submit.

Contraception in Japan: Getting an IUD

Editor's note: For those of you considering contraception options in Japan or are wondering about or considering getting an IUD (intrauterine device), Leah Zoller is here to explain everything you need to know. -Ashley

Although the Pill is quite popular in the US, getting the Pill in Japan or having medication sent from home can be a hassle. It’s stressful if you can only get a month’s supply at a time, expensive if you’re buying and shipping pills from home without health insurance, and troublesome for overseas travel.

In my case, after choosing not to re-contract with JET, I decided I wanted to look for work in Japan, and, no longer having a concrete date for repatriation, I needed a better birth control method than having Nuva Rings sent over from the US. However, I didn’t want to go back on the Pill. I’m sure the Pill in Japan is just fine, but I really liked not having to worry about time changes with international travel or the potential for forgetting pills, so an IUD seemed like the best course of action for a busy woman like me with no plans to have children.

If you’re using the Pill mainly for alternative benefits—to control severe acne or for extremely painful periods—switching to an IUD may not be for you, but if you use birth control primarily to prevent pregnancies, an IUD is a cost-efficient, highly effective, and low risk method of birth control.

I’m of the opinion that discussions about sexual health need to be open and frank. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet about IUDs, so I’m hoping I can clear some of that up today.

Who has an IUD?

More women than you think! Though often recommended for women who have had children, IUDs are becoming increasingly popular among childless women in their twenties looking for a long-term but reversible birth control method. Depending on the model, IUDs are good for 3-10 years. If you decide that an IUD is not the method for you or you wish to become pregnant, a doctor can easily remove it.

I’ve found that quite a few of my American friends living in Japan have IUDs, though I may have been the only one to have gotten one here in Japan.

What is an IUD?
An IUD (one example)
An IUD is a T-shaped device that is inserted via the cervix into the uterus. A copper wire (or a hormonal device, if you have Mirena in the US) in a plastic casing both disables sperm and prevents egg implantation by irritating the lining of the uterus. Two thin “strings” hang down slightly from the cervix to allow you and your doctor to check the position of the device and for the doctor to eventually remove it.
Fun fact: all copper IUDs have a number in their name that describes the surface area of the copper in millimeters.
Words to know

IUD: Intrauterine device
子宮内器具しきゅうないきぐshikyuunai kigu
避妊器具ひにんきぐ hinin kigu
避妊リング ひにんリングhinin ringu

One thing I noticed is that different clinics use different words—my first clinic used hinin ringu for IUD, but the clinic I go to in the city refers to the IUD as shikyuukaigu.

Other words to know:
Birth control method/device避妊具ひにんぐhinin gu
""産制器具さんじきぐsanji kigu
Cervical Cancer子宮頸癌しきゅうけいがんshikyuukeigan
Cervical cancer screening/ Pap smear子宮癌検査しきゅうがんけんさshikyuugan kensa

Types of IUDs

The most popular IUD in Japan is the Multiload CU250R (マルチロードCU250R, maruchirôdo), a U-shaped copper IUD that last for three years (or five years for the Plus). It cost 40,000 yen with my Japanese national health insurance.

In the US, the T-shaped Paraguard (copper) lasts for 10 years and the Mirena (hormonal) lasts for three. T-shaped IUDs have vertical “arms” that hold the device in place in the uterus (shaped like a T), while the U-shaped IUDs curve downward.

To be honest, getting a Paraguard in the US is probably the most cost-effective method if you plan to use it for the majority of 10 years, but since I live in Japan and haven’t visited home long enough in the US to get the Paraguard, I got a Multiload in Japan. (I can’t speak for health care coverage or types in other countries, unfortunately.)


Like the pill, IUDs do not prevent STDs or HIV. Because the IUD is in the uterus/cervix, it can complicate a sexually transmitted infection. Therefore, you should practice safer sex and use latex or polyurethane condoms and dental dams with new partners. Because of this slight risk, IUDs are recommended for those in long-term monogamous relationships, but there are plenty of single women who have them, too.

Be sure to check with your doctor about her/his policies on IUDs just to be sure your martial status is not an issue, because clinics in Japan may ask about it. The one where I had my IUD inserted even asked for my spouse’s name! (Mercifully, they did not hassle me about our separate legal names, but that’s another post for another day.)

IUDs are more effective at preventing pregnancy than condoms or the Pill because there is very little possibility for user error outside of not getting it changed when it “expires.” You will need to check for the IUD strings after your period because the changes in the cervix that occur at this time have a slight chance of causing expulsion or shifting. There is a less than 1% chance of pregnancy.

Finding a Doctor

Ask your local friends for their gynecologist recommendations. For the record, many gynecologists in Japan are male. I got a recommendation from a long-term JET whose GYN spoke some English and was used to working with foreign women; more importantly, she said the doctor was easy to understand, kind, and very professional.

After getting your recommendation, be sure to call or ask about actually getting an IUD. Because it requires insertion at the clinic, some doctors may not stock it or may need to order one for you if their supplies are low. Some doctors may not want to give you an IUD if you are nulliparous (you’ve never had a child) or have never had a vaginal birth. The reasoning is that women who haven’t given birth are slightly more likely to eject the IUD and the insertion may be more painful since the cervix has not experienced childbirth. It’s best to check with your doctor about the requirements and procedures before you take the time off work.

Time the IUD insertion for the end of your period if possible, as your cervix will be more open and insertion will be easier. Also, you’ll have less chance of expulsion. If you have irregular periods, consult your doctor about the best course of action.

Editor's note: You may want to consider Japan Healthcare Info, an organization that helps expats living in Japan find medical providers, especially English-speaking if you require that.


Ask your clinic what their policies are. My GYN in the US has a policy of doing a blood test for STDs and a Pap smear before inserting an IUD. The clinic I went to believed me when I told them I had a normal Pap and a negative routine test for gonorrhea and chlamydia three months prior (hooray for university health center policies!). Your clinic may want to test you, so ask before you schedule an appointment, as it may take a few weeks to get the results.

In my case, I called ahead and spoke directly with the hospital-clinic gynecologist my friend had recommended. I confirmed that he would give me the IUD as long as my uterus was the right size/shape/position for IUD insertion, which they would confirm at my appointment. At the clinic, I talked to the doctor about the procedure, and he showed me the IUD in its package. I filled out some paperwork and was asked for the date and results of my last Pap smear. As I mentioned before, since I had had one done in the US about three months prior, they said that was fine.

Next, the doctor and a nurse examined me with an ultrasound, speculum, and a probe to see how my uterus was aligned and if it would be wide enough to hold the IUD. I requested to not have the “privacy curtain” drawn, and while the nurse was a little weirded out, the doctor just commented that a lot of foreign women didn’t like the curtain and I didn’t need to have it if I didn’t want it.

After the uterus check, they left the speculum in and inserted the IUD. For all of five seconds, I was in intense pain and made some awkward noises, but once I got over the shock, I was okay. They took me to a room to get dressed and let me rest for a bit. I had some bleeding afterward—sort of like a light continuation of the period—because in addition to the cervical trauma I was coming off Nuva Ring hormones. This lasted for about two weeks, but it wasn’t a big deal.

The doctor prescribed oral medication for the pain (I used it for three days) and another to stop the bleeding (I took all of this as directed). I was back at the pool swimming laps two days later.


Take your medicine: you will probably be given painkillers, antibiotics, and antihemmoragic. (It’s nothing major, but you will bleed a little.) Follow the instructions on the medication.

Try bifidus/acidophilus (probiotics): irritating the cervix/vagina and taking antibiotics can result in a yeast infection. Drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, and promote healthy bacteria with some BL.

Check for your strings: After everything stops hurting, you should check for the strings. There are plenty of guides for this online, but squatting down and using a clean finger to feel for the cervix (the donut-shaped bit of flesh) and the strings is necessary.

Remember PAINS - if you have abnormal Periods, Abdominal pain, Infection, are Not feeling well, or your Strings are longer or shorter than usual, consult a doctor.

You should have the position checked after your first period, at six months, and at your yearly exam. My periods became really irregular so as to be practically non-existent (probably from the copper, which irritates the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation, and being stressed out with the job hunt and the move), but when I had the position checked six months later and explained the issue, the doctor said that just happens to a handful of women.

Some women experience heavier periods after the insertion, some don’t. The first one after you get the IUD might be crampier and heavier and then resolve into something more normal in a few months. Some women have lighter periods (even on the copper IUD) or irregular periods. Keep in mind that your cycle changes as you age--the periods you have at 15, 25, and 35 are going to be different even if you are not on hormonal birth control.

How will I know when I’m going to have a period? 

Google “fertility awareness.” Your discharge and cervical position change throughout your cycle, and you can take note of these changes, detailed here, by checking yourself. PMS exists for a reason, too—to let you know when to expect your period. Written records work, but the tech savvy might like to try the free app iPeriod to chart conditions to predict your periods.


Leah is a Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture)-based writer and former JET CIR. She blogs about culture, gender, and media at The Lobster Dance and about food at I’ll Make It Myself. She is also a contributor to JETwit.

For more contraception information, you may want to check out:

Contraception in Japan: Condoms, IUDs and Calendar Methods
A guide to birth control pills in Japan

[Updated] Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Blooming Forecast 2012

sakura, cherry blossom, spring, Japan, 2012, forecast, bloom

This year's cherry blossom (桜, さくら, sakura) blooming forecast has been released! It seems that the sakura in most parts of Japan won't be showing their petals until a little bit later this year in general (probably not surprising with all this cold weather we've been having on Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu).

Below is a translation of the 2012 cherry blossom blooming forecast from the Japan Weather Association (translation mine). If you want to see it for yourself in Japanese along with other notes, click the link. *There are more cities in each region listed on the JWA website, so feel free to check it out for other large cities in your area.* Note: The forecast and dates can change at any time, and blooming dates may be affected by weather and other factors.

Also note that the best time for viewing varies between a few days to a couple weeks from the time they open, and the estimated full bloom has been added below. If you'd like to take part in hanami this year (flower viewing), you may want to read how to find a good hanami spot (useful if you're looking for more places aside those listed in English).

Cherry Blossom Blooming Forecast 2012
from Japan Weather Association (Updated on Apr. 18, updated here Apr. 18) 
Parentheses () around the date means the cherry blossoms have bloomed in that area or they have reached full bloom, per the corresponding column.

Kyushu - 九州
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
Fukuoka (Prefecture)       (March 27)(April 1)
Oita (March 27) (April 3)
Nagasaki (March 26)(April 2)
Saga (March 28)(April 3)
Kumamoto (March 25)(April 2)
Miyazaki(March 24) (April 3)
Kagoshima(March 26) (April 5)

Shikoku Region - 四国
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
Takamatsu (Kagawa)       (April 2) (April 6)
Tokushima(April 1) (April 5)
Matsuyama (Ehime) (March 30) (April 4)
Kochi (March 21)(March 27)

Chugoku Region - 中国
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
Hiroshima(April 2), 201 (April 9)
Okayama (April 3) (April 9)
Matsue (Shimane) (April 6) (April 10)
Tottori (April 3) (April 10)
Shimonoseki (Yamaguchi) (March 30)(April 6)

sakura, cherry blossom, Japan

Kinki Region - 近畿
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
Osaka(April 2) (April 9)
Hikone (Shiga) (April 8) (April 12)
Kyoto (April 3) (April 9)
Maizuru (Kyoto)                (April 9) (April 12)
Kobe (April 2)(April 9)
Nara (April 3) (April 9)
Wakayama (March 30)(April 4)

Tokai Region - 東海
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
Nagoya(March 30) (April 6)
Shizuoka Prefecture           (March 24)(April 1)
Gifu (March 30) (April 6)
Tsu (Mie) (April 4)(April 8)

Kanto Region - 関東
Spot Estimated Blooming DateEstimated Full Bloom
Central Tokyo(March 31)20(April 6)
Mito (Ibaraki) (April 6) (April 12)
Utsunomiya (Tochigi)        (April 8) (April 12)
Maebashi (Gunma) (April 8) (April 12)
Kumagaya (Saitama) (April 4)(April 10)
Choshi (Chiba) (April 2) (April 11)
Yokohama (Kanagawa) (April 2)(April 9)

Koshin Region - 甲信
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
Kofu (Yamanashi)             (April 1)(April 7)
Nagano April 19   April 22

sakura, cherry blossom, Japan

Hokuriku Region - 北陸
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
Niigata(April 16), 20 April 20
Toyama (April 12) (April 16)
Kanazawa (Ishikawa)         (April 10) (April 13)
Fukui (April 10)(April 13)

Tohoku Region - 東北
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
Sendai (Miyagi)                 April 19April 22
Aomori April 29 May 4
Akita April 22 April 26
Morioka (Iwate) April 26 April 29
Yamagata April 21April 25
Fukushima (April 16)April 20

Hokkaido - 北海道
Spot Estimated Blooming Date Estimated Full Bloom
SapporoMay 6 May 10
Muroran (Hokka                 May 10 May 14
Hakodate May 5May 9

sakura, cherry blossom, Japan