Living in Sendai
Daily Life in Sendai
Sendai is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture with a population of about one million. It is also the largest city in the Tohoku (northeastern) region, and it’s directly connected to Tokyo by the “Tohoku Shinkansen” bullet train (90 min.). Sendai is characterized by a moderate climate. Its summer is relatively short, and it seldom becomes as hot and humid as Tokyo or Osaka. In winter there are many sunny days and little snow. With abundant natural scenery, Sendai is often called “the City of Trees”, also known as a “University Town” (Gakuto). Sendai’s transport network is very well developed and convenient. Cost of living in Sendai is relatively lower than that of other major cities in Japan.
Climate, temperature and precipitation
Subway trains run along a north-south route (from Izumi Chuo to Tomizawa Station) and an east-west route (from Arai Station to Yagiyama Zoological Park Station).
The minimum fare is 210 yen.
The Sendai Shiei (Sendai City) and Miyagi Kotsu (Miyagi Transportation Co.) bus companies have bus routes throughout the city.
The minimum fare is 120 yen.
Rules for vehicles
Bicycle is the most common transport among students. Under Japanese law, cyclists are required to obey all traffic laws. Cyclists caught performing certain dangerous actions （such as ignoring traffic lights and stop signs） more than twice within three years will be required to take a cyclist safety class. To prevent bicycle theft, we strongly recommend registering your bicycle as soon as you buy it and locking it with two or more locks. If you receive an old bicycle from someone, you must re-register it in your own name. The registration fee is 600 yen for 7 years.
From April 1, 2019, the Sendai Bicycle Safety Bylaws make it mandatory for anyone riding bicycles within the city limits to enroll in cyclists’ liability insurance. However, “Inbound futai-gakuso” （Comprehensive Insurance for Students Lives Coupled with “GAKKENSAI” for International Students）covers it; you are advised to take out the insurance by all means.
- Scooters and Motorbikes
You must enroll in compulsory automobile liability insurance (Jibaiseki Hoken) and are highly advised to also enroll in optional automobile insurance (e.g. automobile liability insurance covering injury and property damage). In addition, the Good Rider Antitheft Registration system can help deter the theft of motorbikes and scooters. The registration fee is 1,155 yen per vehicle.
- Practice, practice, and learn before the bike debuts on the public road
Many bicycle accidents are reported, and newly enrolled students are often involved. The reason behind this is disorderly intermingled pedestrians and cyclists on the street. Please learn Japanese traffic rules, practice bike riding, and join the inbound futai-gakuso before being on the public road.
Also, you are encouraged to wear a helmet to protect yourself.
Approximate monthly expenses for students are as follows.
|Rent||Student Dormitory: 13,000 yen to 33,900 yen/month
Private Accommodations: 40,000 yen to 60,000 yen/month
|Utilities||Electricity, gas, water etc: Approx.10,000 yen/month|
|Landline Phone||2,000 yen/month + usage fees|
|Food||40,000 yen to 50,000 yen/month|
Tohoku University provides various kinds of support in finding accommodations.
Tohoku University Housing Joint Guarantor System （東北大学留学生住宅保証制度） In Japan, you need a joint guarantor for renting an apartment. Tohoku University can be your guarantor when you fulfill all the requirements below;
- who is enrolled or expected to enroll at Tohoku University. whose status of residence is “Student”.
- who takes out the designated housing insurance, Comprehensive Rentners’ Insurance for Foreign Students Studying Japan.
Contact the Educational Affairs Section of the Graduate School of Dentistry for application materials and necessary procedures such as financial proof and payment of the housing insurance premium.
- You should contact the Educational Affairs Section at least one month before your moving date; the whole procedure usually takes four weeks.
- Under the guarantor system, you may only live with your family (spouse and children) or international students of Tohoku University.
- The housing guarantor system is for students only. Researchers are not eligible to apply.
This system is designed to assist new coming students with their studies, daily life, etc., and help them adjust to their new surroundings as smoothly as possible.
Eligibility and tutoring period
- Undergraduate students: up to two years from the time of admission (one year for those admitted to classes above the freshman course）
- Graduate and research students: up to one year from the time of admission (excluding those who have graduated from a university in Japan）
- Special Auditing Students and Special Research Students: up to one year
- Students other than the above and who needs assistance approved by Dean: up to one year
Students who need a tutor should consult with their academic advisors and the Educational Affairs Section of the Graduate School of Dentistry.
Tourist attractions/food in Sendai
Tourism information for visitors to Sendai City (External site)
Getting a student visa
Entry into Japan
The Center for Counseling and Disability Services ensures the well-being of students. The Center has two offices, the Counseling Office and the Disability Services Office, which provide individualized support for each student based on their individual needs.
National Health Insurance, commonly known as “Kokuho（国保）” in Japan, is a medical insurance system that reduces the insured person's medical expenses. Every international student who will live in Japan for more than three months is obliged to enroll in the National Health Insurance system.
Premium Payment Reduction in the National Health Insurance
Premium Payment Reduction
You get a letter from the National Health Insurance Section of the Ward Office annually in May. Please answer the letter to reduce your annual premium payment by about 70 percent.
You usually pay the premium in ten installments. Please note that the amount is not equal, e.g., the higher for the first three times and lower for the rest seven times. In total, your payment is reduced.
Q: I spent a month in my home country. Don’t I need to pay the insurance premium for this month, do I?
A: You should pay the premium as long as you are registered in Japan.