FAQs Welcome to the Antioch-Chichibu Sister City Program

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Q: Where is Chichibu (秩父市)?

A: Chichibu City is located in Saitama prefecture (roughly equivalent to a State in the US), on the main island of Japan (see map). Present population of Chichibu city is approximately 69,000. The city was formally "incorporated" in 1950, but Japanese have lived in this area for thousands of years.

Interestingly, like Antioch, there is a river that runs through Chichibu – the Arakawa River - and Mount Buko rises south of the city center. These geographical similarities are part of what initially prompted Chichibu to be proposed for a Sister City in Japan. For more information see this wikipedia link .

Q: How old does a student have to be to visit Japan through this program?

A: The minimum age is 16. Please see information for interested delegates for more information.

Q: Are vaccinations needed to visit Japan?

A: No vaccinations are needed, although making sure you are up-to-date on your regular vaccinations is recommended. More health information can be found online through the CDC Travelers Page.

Q: What is the time difference between Chichibu and Antioch?

A: Chichibu is 17 hours "ahead" of Antioch, that is, at 7:00PM Monday in Antioch, it is Noon Tuesday in Chichibu. Communication between the two cities is convenient from 3:00 PM Antioch time (8:00AM the next day in Chichibu) to 7:00 PM Antioch time (12:Noon the next day in Chichibu).

Q: How difficult will it be to "navigate" in Japan; do many Japanese speak English?

A: Delegates are most often with their host family and/or the delegation who will help them navigate about Japan.

Delegates should also always have the contact information for the group leader on hand in case the need for additional help should arise.

Smart phones with translator aps are very useful, however, due to the radical difference in sentence structure between the Japanese language and English, these aids are often not as easy to use as one would hope.

Many Japanese we meet in our visits speak some English, as English is taught starting in the third grade. Interestingly, their written English is generally superior to their spoken English, as English is often learned from books, with less stress on verbal communication. Sometimes communication between delegates from Chichibu and their hosts in Antioch is easier by writing notes.

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Q: How can I get money in Japan?

A: Currencies can be exchanged at either airport. In the visit of 2015, the exchange rate was more favorable at the Narita Airport in Japan.Note that most of the costs to delegates (food, lodging) will be covered by our host families. For personal spending (Ice cream? Souvenirs?) Yen will be needed.

Japan is a cash-based society so you will want to have cash on you at all times.

Once in Japan, you can get cash 3 ways:

  • Use your Visa Delta/Cirrus/Plus (check the back of your card for these logos) debit card to get from a CashPoint/ATM machine. These can be found at the local post office, some 7Elevens, and there are some Citibank ATMs as well. There is usually an English option on the menu once you enter your card. Make sure to notify your bank that you will be withdrawing money from Japan, or they may freeze your card.
  • Use Travelers Checks and exchange at the airport or at the local bank counter.
  • Exchange cash at a JUSCO store (big grocery and department store). They often have money exchange machines (dollars to yet) on the first floor.
Most large businesses and restaurants will accept credit cards, but you will use cash for smaller businesses

Keep in mind that any time you exchange dollars for Yen, you are selling your dollars and buying Yen, and there will be handling fee for this service (often 3% of your purchase or withdrawal) in addition to the exchange rate, which is “bundled” into the nominal exchange rate. This bundled fee results in the difference between the nominal rate of yen per dollar and dollars per yen. You can view the current exchange rate online through Google or Xe.com and your credit card and bank will let you know their additional service charges

Here is a link to interesting information regarding costs in Japan.

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Q: Will my cell phone work in Japan?

Example: AT&T Pay-per-Use

  • Without international package: $2.50/min
  • With international package: $1.69/min + $5.99/month

A: Maybe. Most newer smart phones will work in Japan on international roaming. Check with your cell provider for rates and prices.

Renting an international sim card before you depart will allow you to use your phone in Japan. There are several options online for this, including PicCell Wireless. However, for trips less than 2 weeks, International roaming and calling cards may suffice. You can use a calling card bought in the U.S. or buy one in Japan. Often you can find calling cards at the airport or at 7-Eleven in Japan.

Example: Mobil 1

  • Using WiFi: free text, calls to the US, internet surfing.
  • Using WiFi: calls to non-US numbers, including Japanese numbers: $0.20 per minute.
  • Non-WiFi calls to the US: $0.20 per minute

International Data roaming plans are for a very small amount of data, and you can rack up VERY large bills quickly if you use it too much. It is recommended that you ONLY use data when connected to WiFi; you can disable data in your phone settings. It does not cost anything to connect to WiFi and you can do that from any hotspot.

3G service is standard in Chichibu.

Texting will likely be at no charge.

“Being Smart About Phone Fees Overseas” NY Times

Q: How do I call to Japan from the U.S.

A: The Country Code for Japan 81. From most phones, dial 011+81+phone number.

For example, the City of Chichibu phone number is 0494-22-2211. From the U.S., you would dial: 011+81+274+494-22-2211. As you see, you drop the “0” from the number given in Japan. When calling a Japanese number from inside Japan, you would use that “0.” Toll-free numbers in Japan begin with 0120 or 0088. See http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/ for more information.

How do I call to the U.S. from Japan?

A: The international access number when calling from Japan is 010; and the US code is 1.

From most phones, dial 010+1+area code+phone number.

For example, the City of Antioch phone number is 779-7000. If you are using a Japanese-based calling card in Japan, you would dial: 010+1+925-779-7000. See http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/ for more information.

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Other useful links:

Department of State Japan Consular Info Sheet
Centers for Disease Control Japan Travel Page
Japanese Consulate, SF:
US Embassy, Tokyo

More Questions?
Send your question to Antioch-Chichibu helpers

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