Moving to Japan - Miscellaneous Information
Welcome to Japan and Camp Zama area
Welcome to Japan and Camp Zama, headquarters to U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward), and U.S. Army Garrison-Japan. The information provided below is primarily for those being assigned to the Camp Zama Army community. The four primary locations are: Camp Zama, Sagamihara Family Housing Area, Sagami Depot, and North Dock. Those who work here strive to make this a command of choice and one where you and your family will become a part. While here, you will gain lasting memories and experience the wonderful beauty of Japan and the warmth of the Japanese people. Enjoy your time here.
An overseas assignment gives you additional privileges at post facilities. In the United States, civilian employees are usually able to use the fitness center, library and other recreational facilities. Overseas, civilian employees with post privileges are also able to use the Post Office, Commissary and Exchange, including theaters, gas stations and auto repair facilities. You must have a Government-issued identification (ID) card marked for overseas use to use these facilities. Your Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) can give you information on eligibility for ID cards.
One of the first orders of business you will take care of when you arrive at your overseas assignment is to get your ID card. This card is required to get you on post, into the Commissary and Exchange, pick up and mail packages at the Post Office, and for numerous other day-to-day tasks. Civilian employees and their authorized family members (aged 10 and above) are issued an ID card different from what you may have had in the United States. All members of your family should carry their ID cards wherever they go.
Bldg. 210, Room 100
Routine ID card appointments should be made through the automated appointment system at:
Bldg. 216, Room 116
Bldg. 102, D Wing
Routine ID card appointments should be made through the automated appointment system at:
The only authorized operator’s permit used in Japan is the U.S. Forces, Japan (USFJ) Form 4EJ issued by the local law enforcement organization at place of assignment. This criteria includes all dependents regardless of whether they are employed or not. In order to obtain USFJ Form 47J, the individual must attend a 4-hour driver’s training course given every Tuesday from 0800 to 1200 hours in Building 102, Room A-108, Safety Training Room (1st Floor, A-wing), South Camp Zama. Attendance in this course, successful completion of a 45-question test, and a valid stateside USFK, USAEUR, or international driver’s license is required to obtain the USFJ Form 4EJ. The test is comprised of 20 true or false, 10 multiple choice, and 15 international road signs. International road signs study material is here.
- Student driver’s permit (temporary): A temporary permit for a four-wheeled vehicle may be issued for a 90-day period to individuals 18 years of age or older. To obtain this permit the individual must attend the driver's training course and successfully complete the test mentioned above. In addition, the individual must obtain an eye test at the Motor Pool. This permit is valid only when the student driver is accompanied by a licensed an adult (21 years or older). The practice vehicle will display AJ Sign 19EJ (Student Temporary Permit, Under Practice), both on the front and rear, and will be allowed to operate only at designated times and locations.
- Minor's Student Permit: Family members 16 and 17 years of age may receive a student permit. The student must complete all the requirements above and then submit a written application (17th ASG Form 68). The permit is valid only when the student driver is accompanied by a licensed adult (21 or older).
- Two-Wheeled Vehicle Permit: Student permits require authorization from the sponsor's commander or supervisor. Students must also attend a motorcycle briefing, pass a written test and attend a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course.
Shipment - Household Goods
You are authorized two types of shipments to Japan: hold baggage (unaccompanied baggage) and household goods. Japan is an administratively weight restricted area which means that your personal property or household goods shipment is limited to 25 percent of your Joint Travel Regulation (JTR) allowance. Check with your Traffic Management Office to determine the weight allowance authorized for you.
Tables, chairs, sofas, lamps, bedroom sets, stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers are provided by housing supply and it is recommended that you not ship such items unless you have a very comfortable chair or bed that would be more comfortable. But be aware that exceeding your overall weight limits can cost you significantly. Freezers are not authorized for shipment to Japan since space is limited in both on and off post quarters.
IMPORTANT! Average electrical current supplied to most Japanese homes and on military installations is only 30 to 50 Amps, at 100 volts and 50 cycles for Eastern/Northern Japan (including installations in the greater Tokyo area) or 60 cycles for Western Japan including Okinawa. The average home in the U.S. is supplied with at least 100 Amps (usually 150-200), at 120 volts and 60 cycles.
Most kitchen and entertainment appliances will work well throughout Japan with the 100 volt electrical current.
However, in Eastern/Northern Japan certain electrical items that depend on clocks or timers will lose approximately 10 minutes per hour if the rating is only 60 cycles. Appliances with motors operate at a slower speed due to the 50 cycle electrical supply, but should continue to serve adequately. A transformer may increase the voltage from 100 to 120, but it WILL NOT adjust the cycles from 50 to 60. Electric clocks (without a 50/60 cycle or automatic switch) are not recommended for shipment if used in Eastern/Northern Japan, since they will not keep accurate time on 50 cycles. Freezers are not recommended for shipment since space is limited in quarters. Carefully choose the electrical appliances you wish to bring to Japan by first checking the electrical information imprinted on all electrical devices. Most items manufactured today are multivoltage and 50/60 cycles.
Family Member Employment
You are coming over here with a job, but what about your spouse? What are the possibilities for her/his employment while you are here? As anywhere, the skills, experience, and desires of your spouse have a lot to do with the likelihood of employment. There are some special complicating factors in an overseas area, however. First and foremost is the supply of family member job seekers versus the number of positions available. There are many more family members than full-time positions. Since employment on the local economy is usually not possible, the competition for on-base jobs is very stiff. Second, spouses of civilian employees are not eligible for military spouse preference (a preference for Federal employment) so they have lower standing when referred for a job. If your spouse or other eligible family member has Civil Service status, lack of military spouse preference has much less impact. Many family members will be unable to find employment which meets their desires for work schedule, salary, or level of work.
Medical Care for Civilian Employees:
As a U.S. civilian employee in an overseas area, you are eligible for medical care in military medical facilities in the overseas area only, on a space-available basis and for a fee. What treatment is available will depend on where you are assigned, but our priority for care is always the same, which is AFTER active duty military members and their families. In most locations, you will not be able to obtain routine dental or optometry care. Depending on patient demand and care availability, other types of care will not be available from military facilities. If you have health concerns, you should discuss this with your gaining CPAC and sponsor in order to make sure that your health care needs, and those of your family, will be provided for. Military medical care is expensive. The fee schedule changes annually. Representative costs for outpatient care are rated on care given and can be expensive. You or your family members will probably need to use medical and dental providers on the economy at some point during your tour. Referrals can be obtained from the Tri-Care office of your local military medical facility or from co-workers who have providers they have used and recommend.
Obviously, you will still need health insurance over here. DO NOT count on whatever care you need being available on post. Most insurance carriers are more flexible regarding what kinds of receipts they will accept from Host Country providers. Contact your health insurance carrier for specific forms and instructions on filing overseas claims. You can also obtain more information about the Federal Employees' Health Benefits program from your Civilian Personnel Advisory Center or by reviewing the Office of Personnel Management's website at www.opm.gov.
Mail and Postal Facilities
You are authorized a Post Office Box at the military postal facility. Your sponsor can reserve a box and give you the address as soon as your sponsor receives a copy of your PCS orders. This will enable you to do your “change of address” cards. As with any move, it takes a few weeks for any change to take effect with your correspondents and magazines so the sooner you send in your new address the less delay you will experience. Don't forget to put in a forwarding order with your United States Post Office if in the U.S. Under the Military Postal System (MPS), you and your correspondents use U.S. postage stamps and rates. The MPS moves mail to and from designated United States locations so you do not pay overseas mailing charges. A first class stamp gets letters to and from an overseas APO just as if you were still within the U.S. You will still receive any magazines, catalogs, and packages without having to pay international rates which is a big cost (and time) savings. Customs forms are required to send packages to and from APOs.
State Income Taxes
Some states have no income tax. Other states don't tax income earned overseas. Many states, however, do expect you to continue to pay state income tax while you are assigned overseas. Your local Legal Office can provide advice on these matters. Most states require quarterly payment of estimated taxes to be due. If taxes aren't withheld from your salary you are now able to arrange for state tax withholding from your check.
Child Care Programs
Child Development Services: The CDS program is an accredited and award winning program. The managers and staff take their mission of caring for your children very seriously. Children are cared for in a safe, warm and supportive environment. Centers are conveniently located on Camp Zama and Sagamihara Family Housing Area. Family Child Care (FCC) homes are another childcare option. Homes operate at both housing areas. Care and programs are designed according to the child's developmental stage. Services are designed to foster and develop a child's physical, intellectual, and socio-emotional capabilities.
Daily activities scheduled include manipulative and educational toys, block play, physical activities (small and large scale muscle), art activities, drama and music. Activities are provided for children age six weeks through 12 years of age in hourly care, part day and full programs.
Fees are based on a sliding fee scale depending on total family income.
This is a great place to live! Youth Services (YS) has all kinds of stuff for kids to do. There are two centers, one at each housing area. You can participate in activities in the center, like video games, dances, a computer club, gymnastics and tumbling, karate, private piano lessons, lock-ins, talent shows, birthday parties, pool, darts, ping pong, golf lessons, cooking and midnight night basketball. You can also go on field trips to places like Tokyo Disneyland, Summerland amusement park, Wild Blue Yokohama (a huge INDOOR beach with real waves). If you want to join a team, YS has basketball, baseball, roller hockey, swimming and soccer. If an activity you like isn't already sponsored by YS, join the Teen Council and help decide what kind of activities you want at Camp Zama.
Some of the clubs sponsored through the Middle and High School include: Presidential Classroom Model United Nations, Photography Club, Future Business Leaders of America, French and Spanish Clubs, Drama Club, National Honor Society, Art Club, and more.
Your school age children are eligible for registration in one of the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) on a space-required, no fee basis, if you were hired from the United States. Your child’s school will depend on where in the local community you live and your child’s grade. DoDDS-contracted bus service is offered in some communities. If you have school age children, be sure to get information on bus routes before you commit to a house, unless you or your spouse are willing and able to provide your own transportation.
IMPORTANT NOTE: DODDS must be made aware of school age children with special needs. Contact with the DoDDS-Pacific Area Office is critical if a child has special needs or exceptional requirements. The employee sponsor must obtain required school documents from the child’s U.S. school prior to departure for the overseas location. You will need to complete and return these forms before moving to the overseas location to assist with any special needs or exceptional requirements.
Bank, Credit Union and Services
Due to electronic banking, most of the conveniences of home are available to you here in Japan. You may keep your U.S. bank of credit union accounts or establish one at either institution. Some people keep an account in the United States and one in Japan for convenience because of delays in mailing deposits to stateside banks and credit unions. An ATM (automatic teller machine) card from either the bank of credit union is very useful here and can usually be used at most Japanese ATMs. The ATMs on military installations dispense both dollars and Yen currency and do not charge a transaction fee, however, your bank may charge a fee so check with them beforehand. The bank and credit union sell Yen, but large amounts may need to be ordered in advance. The credit union rates are slightly less than the bank.
Camp Zama, Bldg. 393
Open Monday - Wednesday and Friday: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday and paydays: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Camp Zama: Bank and Exchange
Sagami Depot: Bldg. 130-S3
Sagamihara Housing Area: Bldg. 104
New Sanno Hotel: 2nd Floor
Hardy Barracks, 1st Floor
Within Japan: 046-407-4767
Navy Federal Credit Union:
Camp Zama, Bldg. 344
Monday - Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Within Japan: 046-407-4767
Defense Commissary Agency
The Defense Commissary Agency operates four commissaries in Japan for Army military and civilian personnel and their families. Each store stocks a full line of grocery, fresh meat and produce.
- Sagamihara Family Housing Area is the main commissary in the Camp Zama community. It stocks approximately 8,000 items.
- Camp Zama Commissary stocks about 7,000 items.
- Kure Commissary stocks approximately 1,800 items.
- Kadena AB Commissary stocks approximately 14,500 items.
Army and Air Force Exchange Service
Camp Zama Exchange supports military personnel, Department of Defense civilians, their families and other authorized personnel.
The Exchange maintains a wide range of services - from a main store with a full assortment of merchandise to Express stores at Zama and Sagamihara Family Housing Area.
Various facilities within the Exchange include home and garden, digital movie theater, Burger King, Popeye’s, Anthony's Pizza, Subway, Taco Bell, Military Clothing Store, gas stations and vending machine services. Additional concession facilities include new car and motorcycle sales, car rental, beauty/barber shops and more.
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service continues to provide quality merchandise and services at competitively low prices.
Telephone Service and Long Distance
Cordless telephones (including baby monitors and walkie-talkies) in the 900 MHz AND 1.6 & 1.7 GHz range and not within the standard Wi-Fi band cannot be used in Japan as they may interfere with commercial communications frequencies. Authorized cordless home phones usually include those in the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz range and do operate within the standard Wi-Fi band. Telephones which meet these requirements are sold at the military Exchange.
A commercial vendor at the Exchange provides U.S. commercial phone service, including your own U.S. telephone number, as well as Internet and cable television service. Otherwise, long distance rates for calls to the U.S. vary based on carrier and type of service used. If you plan on calling the U.S. on a regular basis and do not live on post or want U.S. phone service, the Exchange and Lodging offer calling cards.
If you have an American cellular phone, you will most likely not be able to use it here -- the frequencies are different from those used here for such service and can interfere with other users.
Host Country Orientations and Language Classes
IN-PROCESSING: Shortly after your arrival you will be eligible to receive your newcomers benefits. These benefits include:
- Our in-processing office will provide an easy to follow step-by-step sheet of areas you need to check with including finance, housing, driver training, vehicle registration, etc.
- Loan Closet - Pots, pans, dishes, small appliances, car seats, strollers and more are loaned out for 30 days or until you receive your household goods.
Automatic enrollment in the Command Right Start Program which includes:
- Part I - ACS (Army Community Service) Newcomer’s Orientation: A welcome briefing by the installation commander and key representatives from the community. The orientation also includes a “Taste of Japan” luncheon. The orientation is held the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at the Camp Zama Community Club. This program is mandatory for military and civilian sponsors. Adult family members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Free child care during the orientation is available year-round for children up to 12 years, but call the Child Development Center in advance to make a reservation.
- Part II - Japanese Headstart: A one-week Japanese language, customs and culture course is conducted by the Academic Training Division (Education Center). Adult family members may also attend.
- Note: Military and civilian employees are required to attend both of these programs within 60 days of their arrival at Camp Zama.
Newspapers, Television, Radio and Movies
Since most of us are not fluent in Japanese, we are dependent on English language media for information and entertainment. American Forces Radio and Television Service offers one AM radio channel (Eagle 810 for Tokyo area. Check for your local AFN radio station) with rotating formats to try to serve all listening interests. Currently there are eight television channels available at no cost through Armed Forces Network (AFN)-TV as well as dozens of additional cable channels offered through the Exchange commercial vendor. TV channels also try to address all viewing tastes, with a good variety of network series, movies, sports and news. There are no commercials. AFN-TV also broadcasts segments of interest to local communities, including weather, exchange rates, community events, and other items. AFN-TV is only available through the cable (no fee if not subscribing for additional cable services) or via an antenna and decoder box. The Stars and Stripes is an English language newspaper published for members of the U.S. forces, five days a week. You will find it a comprehensive, balanced source of international, U.S., and local area news with regular features such as comics, advice columns, classified ads, etc. The Stars and Stripes is sold by the Exchange and Commissary, in machines on U.S. installations, and is available by home delivery in many communities. All military installations have video rental outlets. There are often English video rental stores in the local community. Most military installations also have at least one movie theater, plus there are often cinemas in the local community which show English language films. Just remember there are other things to do in Japan besides watching TV.
Adult and Higher Education
The Army Education Center located at Camp Zama has qualified personnel to provide educational as well as vocational-technical guidance. Military personnel, civilians and family members on a space available basis, have many opportunities to continue their education while in Japan. Several civilian institutions offer resident credit at the Army Education Center. Classes are usually held during off duty hours. Central Texas College, University of Maryland and University of Phoenix all participate in these programs.
The Legal Assistance Office is available to assist with a wide range of legal matters. Services provided include, but not limited to, wills preparation, power of attorney, marriage and divorce procedures, and tax assistance. Appointments are required for most services.
Pet Import and Pet Export
For pet import, see:/Units/vet/import.