Paying Up Front

Your school takes care of your shinkansen ticket and room reservation for that upcoming conference, and then asks you for money. Or, without giving you a single yen, they ask you to take care of it all yourself. Or perhaps one day someone at your school comes up to you and asks you to pay five-man yen for that conference you attended months ago. Either way, you’re probably wondering why you are paying out of your own pocket, when you’re sure that your Contracting Organization is supposed to cover it.

In Japan (or at least on the JET Programme), this is very common. The bills need to be paid before the funding comes through, and the employee is the one that has to foot the bill for the time being. Or, sometimes you get a little extra with your paycheck, only to find out later that it was money for you to cover your travel expenses. The best advice we can give you with this is, as soon as you can, set aside about ¥50,000-100,000 emergency money (it’s a lot, but better safe than sorry), so that when they ask you to pay up front for something, you won’t be caught off guard.

Also note that unlike most Western countries, you will often be paid a fixed rate no matter what hotel you stay in or what means of transportation you use. If this fixed rate is 10,000 yen per night for a hotel and you stay in a 5,000 yen hotel, you will be allowed to pocket the remaining 5,000 yen. Conversely, if you stay in a 20,000 yen hotel, you will be responsible for the remaining 10,000 yen. Please note that the Keio Plaza Hotel is slightly more expensive than the fixed rate for Hyogo Prefecture, so SHS JETs and some JHS JETs may be asked to pay slightly more than they receive in this case, and this case only.

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