Location (or Google Map)
When you need something and are not certain which department to contact use the information desk near the entrance. If you do not speak any Japanese, then unless your sole purpose of visit is to obtain an Alien Registration Card (the staff at that particular desk will usually find some way of communicating with you) please have someone who does telephone for you (reception desk at 23-6495) or accompany you to City Hall, as it will make it easier with the bureaucrats.
Alien RegistrationIf you need a bank account, or will be in Japan for longer than 3 months, then your first visit is likely to be for alien registration (gaikokujin tourokushoumeisho). For this you need your passport, 2 passport size photographs (4.5cm X 3.5cm), and your address (best to have it written down in Japanese). If you have a child/dependent with you aged 15 or younger, they need to be registered too (no passport photo required for kids). If your dependent is aged 16 or older, then they will need to register in person (with photo). As it will take up to several weeks for your card to be ready, if you need an alien registration card immediately (for example to open a bank account), then ask for a substitute document called a "touroku genpyou kisai jikou shoumeisho". The Alien Registration is free, the charge for the substitute document (in 2004) costs 200 yen. Once the card is obtained foreigners are required to carry it at all times (dependents and others under the age of 16 are required to register, but are not required to carry the card).
If you are staying in Okazaki for a while, then your first visit to the folks at Alien Registration is unfortunately unlikely to be your last. You will need to return and report to the City Hall every time any minute detail on your card changes - for example if you change your address, nationality, name, occupation and/or place of employment, visa category (i.e. a change in visa status), period of stay (i.e. extend your visa) etc within 14 days of the change. It's nearly as much fun as Immigration. Same applies of course if you lose the card, have it stolen, or it is damaged - bring your passport and two photos. The card also has a expiry date, and you will need to visit City Hall to renew within 30 days of this if you intend to extend your stay. About the only time you won't need to go to City Hall to update changes on, is if you die. In which case a member of your household will be required to return it, within 14 days.
Inkan RegistrationIf you need to have an inkan (name stamp/chop) registered and certified, then you need to go to the "citizen's Affairs Division" in City Hall and apply for an "inkan stamp certificate" (inkan shoumeisho). An inkan stamp has your family name carved into it and is used in Japan in lieu of a signature. If you are not from a country that traditionally uses inkan, then you should be able to get by without one even when opening a bank account or paying bills. If you are, then you may need to obtain one to complete your alien registration. In recent years, new arrivals from Korea have also been required to provide kanji surnames when registering, even if they do not use them in Korea. An inkan can usually be purchased from stationery stores or from specialist inkan/hanko shops for 2000-3000 yen. As a general rule common Japanese names are kept in stock, unusual names and foreign names are not, so if you think you will need an inkan its best to arrange one to be carved with time to spare. These will probably cost 4000-5000 yen, though cheaper types (made from plastic) will always be possible. If you are going to be using your inkan regularly, its often advisable to have 2 made at the same time in case you lose one. Makes it a lot easier to get your banking done while you wait for a replacement.
Embassies and ConsulatesThere are no foreign consulates in Okazaki. The nearest foreign missions are in Nagoya. It is a good idea to register your name and address (and whatever other details are recommended) with the Embassy or Consulate of your country, in case of emergencies or natural disasters.
Working While In OkazakiOkazaki is a prosperous city, and for foreigners it has usually been a fairly easy place to find a niche. Not all of the foreigners you see are teachers, in fact the teaching element is a small minority of the overall number of working foreign residents. For longer term visitors planning to stay, please note that if you are looking for professional work, or interested in starting a business, or in doing business with companies in Okazaki it is advisable to visit the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (they also run regular seminars). The Chamber also has a useful website (though its best to work through the Japanese version, as the English website is fairly poor). http://www.okazakicci.or.jp/
It is extremely important that you ensure that your visa is appropriate for the category of work being performed. There are restrictions on the type of work (especially bars, nightclubs, hostess clubs and the like) and number of hours of work that can be done on visas such as student, and visitors on short stay (ie tourist) visas are unable to work at all. Women in particular should take note that hostessing work is usually illegal as far as their visa category is concerned and that in recent years it has carried an increasing level of personal risk to safety.