Hello Momiji’s Family readers! Following the series of articles about gas, electricity and water in Japan, in this article Momiji would like to share how to start using electricity in Japan. Hope this blog helps you to have good start when moving to new place in Japan!
1.Use of electricity in Japan
Electricity in Japan is 100V electricity, so when it is shocked, it does not cause too much harm to the user. Electricity is generated and supplied by power companies in each territory such as Tokyo Denryoku Electric Power Company, Kyushu Denryoku Electric Power Company.
There are two types of electric frequencies in Japan, one is 50Hz for the East Japan region (東日本-Higashi Nihon) and 60Hz for the western region of Japan (西日本-Nishi Nihon). The difference in frequency can affect household electrical appliances such as refrigerators, microwave ovens, etc. Most household electrical appliances are clearly stated to use frequencies of 50Hz or 60Hz, or can be used for both 50Hz/60Hz frequency ranges. Therefore, readers should be careful when buying electrical appliances in Japan, or when moving from the east to the west, carrying electrical equipment that may not be usable in the new place.
- The provinces using electricity frequency 50Hz (Eastern Japan-東日本)
|Area using Hokkaido Denryoku
|Area using Tohoku Denryoku
|Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Nigata
|Area using Tokyo Denryoku
|Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Shizuoka
- Provinces using electricity with frequency 60Hz (Western Japan-西日本)
|Area using Chubu Denryoku
|Nagano, West Shizuoka, Gifu, Aichi, Mie
|Area using Hokuriku Denryoku
|Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui
|Area using Kansai Denryoku
|Fukui, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyougo, Nara, Wakayama
|Area using Chukoku Denryoku
|Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Kagawa, Ehime
|Area using Shikoku Denryoku
|Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, Kouchi
|Area using Kyushyu Denryoku
|Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima
|Area using Okinawa Denryoku
2. Sign up for an electricity contract in Japan
When moving to a new place in Japan, if your home’s electrical circuit breaker is an old one, just turn on the switch to be able to use electricity. However, if the circuit breaker at your new residence is スマートメーター type (read as smart meter), you need to sign an electricity contract first before you can use it.
How to start the electrical system if using an old type circuit breaker (Japanese is 分電盤のブレーカー):
When you arrive at a new place, you need to turn on the switch in the following order to be able to use electricity: (You should clearly see the Japanese displayed on the intersection to turn it on in the correct sequence, the switch is pressed towards the letter “入” is OK)
Example pictures of old-fashioned circuit breakers in Japan and parts names
Before moving to a new place, you can ask the rental company about the type of circuit breaker to use. Or to be sure, you should contact to register for an electricity use contract at your new place 2-3 days before moving in. The company will send staff to check and open the circuit breaker for you.
To register for an electricity contract in Japan, you need to follow the following process:
2.1 Selection of Ampere capacity to sign the contract
Before signing up for an electricity contract, you need to consider your usage plan depending on your family’s electricity usage habits and monthly electricity usage. If you use more electrical equipment, you need to sign a contract with a larger Ampere capacity. In Japan, the electricity contract for home, depending on the Ampere capacity, has types from 10A~60A. The larger the Ampere capacity, the more basic electricity usage fee 基本料金 – kihonryokin must pay. The example below is the basic electricity usage fee of the Tokyo Electric Company (東京電力）
|Basic monthly cost (yen/month)
Therefore, it is very important to consider a reasonable Ampere capacity contract, as it affects your family’s monthly electricity bill. You can save money on electricity by signing up for a low Ampere capacity contract, but be aware that using too many electrical devices at the same time can cause overload and tripping the breaker.
Normally, if you are a single person living alone, you should sign up for a contract around 20A. If you live in a family of many people and use many appliances such as refrigerators, microwave ovens, and air conditioners, you need to register an electricity contract of at least 30A or more.
In case you are wondering how to register the Ampere capacity, you can refer to the website of the Tokyo Electric Power Company. Enter the number of electrical devices you are using into the questionnaire, the website will display the results of the Ampere capacity you should register. Refer here: http://www.tepco.co.jp/sp/ampere/
Table of Ampere capacity of some household electrical appliances
2.2 Choosing a company that sells electricity and a plan to use electricity
As you all know, starting from April 2016, Japan has liberalized electricity purchases and sales. In the past, the sale and supply of electricity was done by electricity companies in each territory (called 地域電力会社）, for example in Kanto using electricity from Tokyo Electric Company, in Kyusyu using electricity from a power company Kyushu force…)
Currently, the liberalization of electricity purchase and sale has attracted many private companies to participate, called new power companies (新電力会社). The electricity supply is still from local power companies called 地域電力会社 but customers are free to choose the company to pay for electricity. The liberalization of electricity purchase and sale makes electricity companies compete with each other, offering a variety of benefit plans to attract consumers. For example, in the past, you could only sign a contract with the Tokyo electric company based on the Ampere capacity, but now you can choose plan types such as: Premium S/L for large family users’ electricity, or Yoru Toku if you are a single person going to work and almost only use electricity after 8 pm… For more details, please refer to: Tokyo Electric Power Company’s plan list
In addition, new power companies also regularly offer promotions to give points, refunds or reduce gas prices for customers who sign up for a contract. Most new power companies offer free registration fees and contract cancellation fees. Some companies also waive basic electricity fee 基本料金 such as: Rakuten Denki-楽天のでんき
, 親指でんき-Oyayubi denki (Plan A, Plan B); Ashita Denki-あしたでんき,…
In addition, if readers already know about Point-site through Momiji’s Family article, they should definitely sign up for an electricity contract through Point-site, readers will receive an additional 1,000 ~ 3,000pt (equivalent to 1,000 ~ 3,000 yen) more.
Articles related to Momiji’s Family Point-site:
2.3 Contact your local power company to apply for an electricity contract
Although mentioned in section 2.2 about the liberalization of electricity trading in Japan, Momiji should remind readers that: When moving to a new place, most readers need to sign a contract with the local power company 地域 電力会社 first, then change the contract with the new power company. Canceling a contract with your local utility is free and signing up for a new one is free. It is therefore very easy to change your home’s electricity contract.
About 2-3 days before moving to a new place, readers need to phone or contact the website of the local power company 地域電力会社 to open an electricity contract. Information required to contact the opening of an electricity contract includes:
- 住所: Address of residence
- 契約者の名前: Name of the person making the contract
- 引っ越し日時: Date of moving to a new place
- 電気開始日: Start date of using electricity
- 支払い方法（クレジットカード、口座振替): Information about payment method
After signing up for an electricity contract with your local company, you are free to switch to other power companies if you wish.
2.4 Payment methods
- Convenience store payment: When paying this way, a monthly payment slip called 払込票-Haraikomihyou, accompanied by a 検針票-Kenshinhyou meter coupon will be sent to your home. There will be barcodes on it. You bring this voucher to the combine convenience store to pay. Note on the payment slip there will be a payment deadline, if the payment is overdue, you will have to go to the bank to pay.
- Pay by phone application (eg Line pays): You just need to activate the payment application, scan the Barcode or QR code and you’re done.
- Pay by credit card or directly deducted from your bank account: This is the most convenient form because you will not have to worry about forgetting to pay the electricity bill that may be cut off. To use this form of payment you must fill out a request form, which can be downloaded directly from the electricity company’s website. In this case, you will receive a 検針票-Kenshinhyou meter coupon informing the monthly usage and amount. Payment will be automatic via bank account or credit card. To register for payment by credit card or direct debit to your bank account, the bank will take 1 to 2 months to activate the service, so you still have to pay in other forms for first 1-2 months.
3. Procedures for cutting electricity contract
When you move from one place to another in Japan, or you return to your home country, you must complete the procedure to cut the electricity contract. To terminate the user contract, you must contact the electricity company about a week in advance (at least 3-4 days before moving) to notify them about the termination of the contract. The company’s people will schedule a day to come to your home to measure the amount of use and pay the full amount. Usually, the remaining amount you will have to pay in cash at the time the company staff comes to measure the meter.
When contacting to cancel the contract, you should prepare the 払込票-Haraikomihyou station payment slip or the 検針票-Kenshinhyou meter slip, on which the contract number, name and address are necessary information to order appointment schedule.