You can pay your utility bills at convenience stores (combini), via direct withdrawal from your bank account, or by visiting the service counter at the utility’s office. When your utilities are initially set up for you, you will likely be given paperwork for direct deposit. Save yourself a lot of grief and knock out that paperwork as soon as your bank account will allow.
While payment methods are important, it is also important (especially right at first) to be able to recognize what is a bill. If you arrange direct withdrawal you will not receive bills, only the notifications shown later down the page.
This is a bill:
Bills will come in envelopes like at the bottom of the picture and the bill itself will have a barcode on it. You will be able to take the bill to a conbini, they’ll scan it, and you just pay them. They’ll usually stamp one section and give it to you.
This is not a bill:
These are ご使用量のお知らせ (go-shiyouryou no oshirase). These will usually be put in your apartment’s mailbox or directly through the slot in your door. These notifications just show how much of a certain utility you used that month and how much the forthcoming bill will be.
The best advice we can give you in regards to bills is to pay them every payday, or as close to payday as you can. There have definitely been instances of ALTs who have forgotten to pay that bill in the bottom of their bag and the gas has been cut off. A cold shower is a harsh reality check and the embarrassment and fuss created to get a service reconnected is really not worth it. Luckily, services are not usually cut off until a month or two of delinquency has passed. Don’t let it get that far.