Electricity and gas meters are checked once a month and each customer will receive a prior notice in the mailbox that states the actual amount they have consumed as well as the amount to be invoiced. The same system goes with water except the bills will be sent out every two months. Shortly after receiving such a notice, invoices will be sent out to those customers who have not applied for automatic bank payment. Payment through one’s credit card or auto-debit can be activated 1 or 2 months after applying for the service (Until then, one needs to pay in cash at a convenience store, post office etc., using the invoice slip)
As for water, no matter where you are in Japan, all tap water is potable. Though safe, many Japanese install filters or water purifiers to improve the quality. Water bills include charges for both water supply and sewage, and the price varies depending on the population, landscape, and the maintenance costs for the infrastructure.
There are broadly two types of gas used in Japan (city gas provided through the metropolitan piping infrastructure and gas tank supplied liquid propane). For almost all urban dwellers, though, city gas such as Tokyo Gas would be the company one applies for. Unlike electricity and water, the gas supply is always cut for safety reasons at the end of each contract. As such, it is necessary to arrange an appointment with the gas company in advance to start the service. The gas company will send a representative to check and activate the gas lines. So, your presence would be required and they typically ask you to secure a 2 hour time frame.
The voltage in Japan is 100 Volt, which is different from North America (120V), Central Europe (230V) and most other regions of the world. Japanese electrical plugs have two, non-polarized pins and they fit into North American outlets.
Some North American equipment will work fine in Japan without an adapter and vice versa, however, certain equipment, especially those involving heating (e.g. hair dryers), may not work properly or could get damaged. If one intends to purchase electronic appliances in North America and bring them to Japan, we would advise to look for equipment specifically made with overseas compatibility or simply use a setup transformer for safety.
The frequency of electric current is 50 Hertz in Eastern Japan (including Tokyo, Yokohama, Tohoku, Hokkaido) and 60 Hertz in Western Japan (including Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Shikoku, Kyushu); however, most equipment is not affected by this frequency difference.