Living in a Japanese Apartment

Understanding Your Water & Sewage Bill in Japan: With Kanji Cheat Sheet

In this article, we explain how to read your water bill in Japan, with Japanese-English translations of the main keywords. This post is part of the series on “how to live in a Japanese apartment“.

This sample bill is from the Iwate Chubu Waterworks Bureau but the terminology is applicable to any water and sewage bill issued in Japan.

In some municipalities (for example, Tokyo), your water and sewage is billed on a two-month cycle, so you will receive a bill every other month. The sample bill below is for a monthly billing cycle.


Sample of a water bill in Japan. This bill is from the Iwate Chubu Waterworks.

Number 1: Customer Number

お客様番号 (Okyakusama bangō): Your customer Number. You’ll want to know this in case you need to contact your water bureau with any questions.

Number 2: Billing Period

請求年月 (Seikyū nengetsu): Billing year and month. 平成28年8月 means August 2016. Currently, we are in Heisei 30 (the western year 2018), but next year, when the Japanese emperor abdicates in April 2019, the next emperor will start a new reign.

使用期間 (Shiyō kikan): Usage period. In this case, from June 17th to July 16th. As mentioned in the introduction, some municipalities bill for water and sewage in two-month billing cycles.

口径 (Kōkei): (Water Pipe) size.  In this case, 13-mm. The bigger the water pipe installed to your apartment, the higher the base rate will be.

In addition, you also have to pay a metered amount based on the actual amount of water you use. The rate for the metered amount also varies by the size of the water pipe, but the metered rate increases as your usage increases. For example, if you use between 11- and 20-cubic meters of water, you’ll be charged ¥128 per cubic meter; but if you use between 21- and 30-sqm, you’ll be charged ¥163 for the amount used in that higher tier.

For the Tokyo 23 Wards, this is a partial list of the base rates per billing cycle:

  • 13-mm: Base rate = ¥860
  • 20-mm: Base rate = ¥1,170
  • 25-mm: Base rate = ¥1,460
  • 30-mm: Base rate = ¥3,435

If you are living in a studio apartment, most likely you will be pay a base rate for 13-mm or 20-mm water pipe.

メーター番号 (Mētā bangō): Meter number

Number 3: Water Supply Number

給水番号 (Kyūsui bangō): Water supply number

Number 4: Meter Reading

指針及び水量 (Shishin oyobi suiryō): Meter reading indicator number and amount of water

今回指針 (Konkai shishin): This bill’s indicator number

前回指針(Zenkai shishin): Last bill’s indicator number

旧メーター使用水量 (Kyū mētā shiyō suiryō): Water usage from previous meter reading

Your meter may have been changed in the period since the date of your last reading (often because of limits on the usable life of meters). In this case, you will be notified of the total amount of water usage based on the current meter reading plus the amount from the previous meter reading.

Number 5: Amount of Water Used & Drainage Used & Amount Billed

使用水量 (Shiyō suiryō): Amount of water used in this billing period

排水量 (Haisui ryou): Amount of drainage used

今回請求予定金額 (税込) (Konkai seikyū yotei kingaku zei-komi): Amount scheduled to be billed this month, including tax.

水道料金  (Suidō-ryō): Amount due for water usage. In this case, ¥6,987

下水道使用料 (Gesuidō shiyō-ryō): Amount due for sewage. In this case, ¥5,661

合計金額 (Gōkei kingaku): In this case, ¥12,648

Number 6: Scheduled Debit Date

振込予定日 (Kōza furikomi yotei-bi): Scheduled date of debit (bank transfer)

If you have set up direct debit from your bank account to pay for your water  bill, this is the date (August 28, 2016), your account will be debited. You will receive a small discount off of your water bill if you sign up to pay by direct debit.

You also have to the option of paying by payment voucher at the convenience store or by credit card. You can choose the payment method when you set up your account. You can also change your payment method by contacting your water company.

Number 7: Meter Reading Date & Name of Meter Reader

検針順路 (Kenshin junro): Meter reading route. This is your route number.

検針日 (Kenshin-bi): Meter reading date

検針員 (Kenshin-in): Meter reader. This is the name of the person who read your meter.

Number 8: Receipt for Payment by Debit

水道料金等口座振込済のお知らせ (Suidō ryōkin-tō kōza furikomi sumi no oshirase): Receipt of payment by debit (bank transfer) for water bill.

Number 9: Notification

This space is where you’ll receive an special notifications from the water bureau. In this case, the verbiage says that the water company will be replacing the meter for this customer within the year because of a change in the meter reading law. The customer will not be charged for the replacement.

You may also be interested in:

How to read your electricity bill in Japan

How to read your gas bill in Japan

Top image: Manhole cover in Osaka, Japan, via Pete Kobayashi on Blogspot

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