Posted By armyo on 08-05-2011 12:49 AM
Just a quick primer for those who will be in-processing and what to expect, based on my 2 days of experience:
When you arrive into Narita airport into Terminal 2, go through immigration, grab a free cart and collect your baggage and then clear customs. Get outside to bus stop 8 and onto the inter-terminal shuttle (departs every 7 minutes during day) and head to Terminal 1, bus stop 6 (15min ride). Grab another free cart for your baggage and head towards the Terminal 1 North Wing DoD counter and check in for the shuttle to Camp Zama. There are shuttles that run at 1300hrs (may be wrong on this time), 1600hrs, and 1900hrs, but you need to check in at least 20 minutes prior to departure. From there, expect a nice and slow air conditioned 3-hour trip on a charter bus through Tokyo, past Tokyo Disney and to the first stop at Sagamihara Housing (SHA). Have your ID card ready for the gate guards so that it's ready to go should you fall asleep on the bus and be awakened by your fellow bus riders, waiting on you (couple in front of me were dazed for a good 3 minutes before finding their IDs). You'll leave SHA and head to Camp Zama, another 15-20min drive, and head to the 2nd stop at lodging. Hopefully, your sponsor will have already made a reservation for you. Check in, rack out. My sponsor/FRG had my mini-fridge well-stocked upon arrival. Welcome to Japan!
You'll need an appointment to go to Military Personnel Division (your sponsor should have set this up for you), and your company, to pick up inprocessing checklists. YMMV, as your checklist will vary depending on rank, family, etc. MPD wil schedule Head Start (5 days) and Newcomer's Brief (2 days) for you. Head Start is done every 2 weeks and Newcomer's is offered once a month with the 2nd day spent in civilian clothes, heading out on the economy. Generally speaking, all facilities are within walking distance, but I highly recommend having your sponsor to drive you around. I spent the last 2 days walking in the rain and high humidity from building to building - not fun, but I'm acclimatizing.
I am staying in lodging 552 and it is new and very nice - expect a 'continental' breakfast (bagels, yogurt, coffee). Small kitchenette w/stove/fridge/microwave, bed, air conditioning, iron, safe, tv, dvd player, internet (get free CAT5 cable at front desk - no wifi).
If active duty, you will live on-post at either Camp Zama or SHA. Ensure that Housing is expecting your arrival (DSN 315-263-4135) prior to reporting, especially if you are planning on reporting early, so that the process is smooth. Depending on your family size/rank/EFMP/etc, you may or may not have a lengthy wait time. Fill out some paperwork and provide orders. I haven't seen what is available on Camp Zama, other than the high-rise units, but expect WWII-era style housing standards. Homes have been somewhat renovated inside and more housing is being built on SHA in the next few years.
Camp Zama has a smaller commissary, PX, PXtra, shopette, gas station, Anthony's, BK, Subway, Popeye's, outdoor rec, ITT, ed center, library, MS/HS, gym, golf, bowling, bank, health/dental clinic. SHA has the ES, pool, library, larger commissary, gas station, youth center, CDC, and some other amenities that I haven't yet discovered.
The house I signed for today is a 4-bed company-grade in a fourplex one block from the commissary. The first one they offered was smack-dab in the middle of a construction area and I declined - no good for my kids. Be advised that if you decline a house, you may be bumped down on the wait list and cannot be offered another house for 6 months - I wasn't completely clear on whether this applied after your 1st or 2nd declination, but since there was no wait for my requirements, I was able to view 2 in one day. Just be nice about it and you may get further with Housing.
Once you accept an offer, you'll head to furnishings (within Housing office) and select your gov't-provided furniture. Based on family size, you'll be offered queen and twin beds, box springs/mattresses, dressers, night stands, mirrors, book cases, buffet, desks w/chairs, dining table w/chairs, floor lamps, table lamps, hutch, coffee table, sofa, easy chair, pivot/end/night tables - all in cherry wood finish. If you're furniture-illiterate like me, no worries - they'll show you a photo of what these items looks like before you choose. If you read this before you ship your HHG, I would highly recommend you consider leaving/selling your stuff! They'll setup a delivery date and will deliver and try to setup the furniture _before_ you sign for your house! You are allowed one additional time to have them pick up and/or deliver more furniture during your tour. Be aware that the day you sign for your house, your TLA entitlements stop. Because it's much easier for me to in-process and stay in lodging on Camp Zama itself, and the house needed to be cleaned, I was able to schedule my move-in date two weeks from now. This should give me time to get my license, find a car, and in-process easier without having to worry about how to commute from SHA to Zama w/o a car.
MPD will schedule a Finance appointment for you - they'll setup your COLA and brief you on whatever entitlements you should expect. Have 3 copies of your orders, flight itinerary, leave form, and mail box number. They'll walk you through filling out your travel voucher correctly as well.
Check in here and ensure that they are tracking your HHG and UB shipments; provide them with your orders, house address, if you have it, and contact information. The shipping company will email you when your stuff arrives.
Note: MPD, Finance, Transportation, DEERS, and NEO are all located in the same building.
Gave my orders to my sponsor 1 month prior to my arrival and got my box#, then shipped items to myself from APO, Germany. Got here two weeks later and already had mail waiting. Fill out the forms, get your combination, and you're good to go.
Enroll in Tricare, go to immunizations after Tricare gets you into the system, drop off medical records at, well, Medical Records, see vision (ha!), and head next door to Dental to drop off your dental records. Easy.
Other easy stops:
PMO, Ed Center, Library, ACS, NEO, Red Cross, Behavioral Health/FAP/ASAP
Chose Softbank and got a 32gb iPhone 4 w/2 year contract, 21yen/30sec, free softbank to softbank between 1am and 9pm, unlimited data 4,725yen/month, 480yen/month for phone rental, 980yen/month call plan. Allied Telesis (http://campzama.atcc-gns.ltbx.com/) has the tv/internet/phone options.
Still to go:
CIF, driving class, Newcomer's, Head Start, find a car, start work
Since my family did not arrive with me, I bypassed several in-processing stops such as CYS, school registration, etc.
Drivers classes/exams are conducted every Tuesday 0800-1400hrs
If you're doing a Consecutive Overseas Tour and want to save your COT free home leave entitlement for later use, DO NOT spend more than 10 days transiting through CONUS. That will be considered usage of your COT free home leave, regardless of what your lousy MPD in Germany told you.
Sign up for an ETC card today!