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Moving to Kobe?

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Living in Japan, from France

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Kobe at a Glance

Moving to Kobe

Kobe is home to approximately 1.5 million people and there are about 50,000 expats living in the city. English is widely used in the business and financial districts. Most expats will need a visa when they enter Japan except for citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia and most EU countries.

About the City

Kobe is the sixth largest city in Japan, and the largest and capital city of the Hyōgo Prefecture. It is part of the wider Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area, and is home to approximately 1.5 million people. Although almost all of its inhabitants are Japanese, there are approximately 50,000 foreign residents living in the city, with large groups of Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and US American citizens. Many of these foreign citizens are expatriates, who move to Kobe to work for one of the many foreign or multinational corporations that have offices or headquarters in the city.

The official language is Japanese, but in the business and financial districts many people will also speak English. English is also commonly spoken amongst the younger generations and the student population. However, expatriates are expected to learn some Japanese, and adhere to the cultures and customs of Japanese business.

The Climate in Kobe

Kobe has a humid sub-tropical climate. This means that expatriates moving to Kobe will need to adjust to hot, humid summers and mild, cool winters. In the summer months the average temperature ranges from 26°C (79°F) to 27°C (81°F), but it has been known to reach up to 32°C (89°F). In the winter, the average temperature drops to between 5°C (41°F) and 8°C (46°F), but in January it can drop down to 1°C (35°F). The yearly average rainfall is 1,316 mm, but most of this falls in the summer months, particularly in June. Unlike many Japanese cities, Kobe experiences hardly any snowfall.

Visas for Kobe

Expats and foreigners moving to Kobe will need a visa. Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, and most EU countries will not need a visa to enter Japan, but citizens of all other countries will. However, this visa will only allow you to stay for 90 days, so you will need a residence permit to move to Kobe for an extended period of time.

Japanese residence permits are called long-term visas, and need to be applied for before moving to Kobe. You will first need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility, which is usually provided by your prospective employer in Kobe, after which you can apply for a long-term visa at your local embassy or consulate. Therefore expatriates that haven't already secured work in Kobe may find it difficult to obtain a long-term visa. On arrival in Japan you will be given a Residence Card (Zairyu Card), which will allow you to come and go from Japan as if you were a Japanese citizen.

InterNations Expat Magazine