PDA

View Full Version : Japan and Phones



Viral
April 6th, 2015, 04:40
So... I'm in the UK and have a smartphone on contract. The contract won't end for another year and a half or so which is annoying, but not much I can do on that front. However, I still want to use it as my phone in Japan instead of shelling out on another smartphone. I don't want to be paying roaming charges etc etc but am not knowledgeable at on the phone front so any help would be... helpful. What is the best idea in Japan? Get a prepaid sim or a contract? What networks are good? Do I need to unlock my phone here (and is that even possible if its on contract)? Assume I have no idea what I'm talking about. I don't.

moonbeam
April 6th, 2015, 04:52
Over here in the US, you can get out of a phone contract if you meet certain requirements--like moving to another country, so you might want to look into that.

Viral
April 6th, 2015, 04:56
Thanks moonbeam, will definitely speak to them and see what they say.

webstaa
April 6th, 2015, 08:31
So... I'm in the UK and have a smartphone on contract. The contract won't end for another year and a half or so which is annoying, but not much I can do on that front. However, I still want to use it as my phone in Japan instead of shelling out on another smartphone. I don't want to be paying roaming charges etc etc but am not knowledgeable at on the phone front so any help would be... helpful. What is the best idea in Japan? Get a prepaid sim or a contract? What networks are good? Do I need to unlock my phone here (and is that even possible if its on contract)? Assume I have no idea what I'm talking about. I don't.


There are a couple of threads with excellent info about this, but it boils down to two things: Does your phone have the necessary radios to work on any of Japan's carriers? Look up your phone's specs and see if you have any of the bands listed here (http://www.japanmobiletech.com/2012/03/japanese-lte-bands.html) for Japan's carriers. Note that that doesn't guarantee coverage, as in a lot of places, there is only one band of 3G/LTE service available, and if it isn't the one your phone has, you're SOL. And second, what carrier you choose/is available. Docomo AFAIK doesn't like activating/providing SIMs for long term residents with overseas models of phones, even ones sold in Japan (like the Nexus line.) Softbank is a bit of a walled garden. Although if you don't need voice service, there are plenty of data only SIM plans, and you can make calls over apps like LINE etc, which most Japanese already have.

greyjoy
April 6th, 2015, 13:24
Cancel your contract through any means necessary and get a new phone, full stop. I know a few people here with phones from their respective countries, and it's hard as hell to contact them for anything. Do not bother with any of the long and complicated processes of switching out sims, arguing with the Japanese carriers and giving up after hours of fruitless labor. You'll make enough money to pay for your new phone with no trouble.

word
April 6th, 2015, 13:31
Cancel your contract through any means necessary and get a new phone, full stop. I know a few people here with phones from their respective countries, and it's hard as hell to contact them for anything. Do not bother with any of the long and complicated processes of switching out sims, arguing with the Japanese carriers and giving up after hours of fruitless labor. You'll make enough money to pay for your new phone with no trouble.

word

Seriously; listen to greyjoy here, folks.

Ananasboat
April 6th, 2015, 13:47
I have a friend from the UK who brought her UK phone with her, bought a data plan for a wireless box, and has to charge it, leave it near her phone, and wake it up every once in a while just to send texts. She can't call, or anything. She saves maybe 2,000 yen a month for pure unadulterated hassle.

Cancel your contract, get a phone in Japan.

catamongthepixies
April 6th, 2015, 15:14
Yeah, cancel the contract and get a new phone in Japan. If you choose to have the cost of the phone built into your plan, there aren't a lot of upfront costs for a new smart phone when you start JET.

Something that helped me though is that I held onto my old, unlocked phone once I broke contract in the US, and I use it when I go back to the states to visit. I get a temporary sim card for the duration of my stay.

singinglupines
April 7th, 2015, 00:45
Wow. I just used an unlocked phone and bought a sim card while in Europe. Did not know this was so complicated in Japan.

edit: did some googling. How necessary is it to have a phone that can make calls? Is a data only sim card good enough? I already have line/skype/whatsapp.

Ini
April 7th, 2015, 01:11
Did not know this was so complicated in Japan.

You'll be saying this a lot....

singinglupines
April 7th, 2015, 01:27
You'll be saying this a lot....
I'm beginning to notice this...

BifCarbet
April 7th, 2015, 06:54
Cut it out with the ellipses...

webstaa
April 7th, 2015, 08:36
Wow. I just used an unlocked phone and bought a sim card while in Europe. Did not know this was so complicated in Japan.

edit: did some googling. How necessary is it to have a phone that can make calls? Is a data only sim card good enough? I already have line/skype/whatsapp.

You can totally go to a recycle shop and pick up a shitty used phone and get a data only sim for around 2500 a month. I've made maybe 6 phone calls in the last 6 months or so, and that is probably high for most JETs. But Japanese carriers aren't likely to unlock their phones (used or new) unless you're leaving the country (and not coming back.) Especially Docomo. AFAIK Softbank doesn't unlock their phones at all. Don't really know about AU's policy.

But you'll probably end up paying full price for an 'unlocked' or international version of the phone off of Rakuten/Amazon, go to get a sim only plan and discover that suddenly nobody wants to sell you one. Japanese carriers are pretty shitty like that. On rare occasion, they'll look up what radio bands your phone has, discover that it only has 1 or 2 and tell you muri, muri. Or that they don't sell a compatible sim card for that phone (full vs micro vs nano) which is just an excuse to tell you no.

The most 'foolproof' plan is to get a phone from a carrier, pay the 'full cost' up front, and sell it to a recycle shop when you leave. Take that money and put it towards a new phone where you go after that. This seems to work pretty well for iPhones - a lot of Japanese friends who really like the iPhone will wipe and sell their old device whenever a newer model comes out (after getting the new model of course.)

singinglupines
April 7th, 2015, 08:42
You can totally go to a recycle shop and pick up a shitty used phone and get a data only sim for around 2500 a month. I've made maybe 6 phone calls in the last 6 months or so, and that is probably high for most JETs. But Japanese carriers aren't likely to unlock their phones (used or new) unless you're leaving the country (and not coming back.) Especially Docomo. AFAIK Softbank doesn't unlock their phones at all. Don't really know about AU's policy.

But you'll probably end up paying full price for an 'unlocked' or international version of the phone off of Rakuten/Amazon, go to get a sim only plan and discover that suddenly nobody wants to sell you one. Japanese carriers are pretty shitty like that. On rare occasion, they'll look up what radio bands your phone has, discover that it only has 1 or 2 and tell you muri, muri. Or that they don't sell a compatible sim card for that phone (full vs micro vs nano) which is just an excuse to tell you no.

The most 'foolproof' plan is to get a phone from a carrier, pay the 'full cost' up front, and sell it to a recycle shop when you leave. Take that money and put it towards a new phone where you go after that. This seems to work pretty well for iPhones - a lot of Japanese friends who really like the iPhone will wipe and sell their old device whenever a newer model comes out (after getting the new model of course.)
Thanks! Super helpful. I wanted to take my unlocked galaxy s4 that I think is compatible (checked band stuff today), but if I can't get a sim card, the other options are good to know!

Ini
April 7th, 2015, 11:45
you can just use shitty pre paid data sims but its not really a good substitute for a normal phone. If you dont have a home phone line you are going to need to give out contact details to people and I doubt the yamato transport delivery driver or the pizza delivery boy is going to want to become line friends with you.

Gizmotech
April 7th, 2015, 15:21
Your BoE will likely require you to have a contact number of some form anyways. They will never use it, but they will likely require it.

Honestly, just get a cheap ass smartphone when you get over here, bite the bullet on the monthly cost and live a life of hassle freeness.

Also, any phone announced after july this year (announced is important btw) on a japanese carrier will be able to be unlocked under the new rules (in theory).

Ananasboat
April 7th, 2015, 15:40
Your BoE will likely require you to have a contact number of some form anyways. They will never use it, but they will likely require it.


To be fair I get calls from my supe from time to time. Guess it all depends, though.

fairiehearts
April 7th, 2015, 16:11
This all sounds very very confusing.

I have a fairly new unlocked phone (OnePlus One) that I want to use in Japan... but by the looks of it, It may only work in the major metropolitan areas.

word
April 7th, 2015, 16:13
Just don't bother. Get a new phone here.

acpc2203
April 7th, 2015, 16:32
I'm thinking of getting by with a dumb phone and just using wifi on my old smart phone. Is this feasible in most places? I know everyone uses line to communicate these days, but having a smart phone heavily contributes to me dicking around and being unproductive.

Gizmotech
April 7th, 2015, 16:37
Whatever you think you know about cellphones in your home countries or abroad should be forgotten when entering Japan. Everything here is just different enough (business, networks, hardware, thinking) that it's just not worth the hassle.

Ini
April 7th, 2015, 16:38
struggle to find a "dumb phone" outside of the ones with giant buttons for old people or the little ones that only dial 3 preprogrammed numbers and have a panic alarm built in that you give to your ES kid.

acpc2203
April 7th, 2015, 18:05
struggle to find a "dumb phone" outside of the ones with giant buttons for old people or the little ones that only dial 3 preprogrammed numbers and have a panic alarm built in that you give to your ES kid.
I remember there were flip phones that had on cheap plans which was what I was thinking of getting, even though they aren't really "dumb phones" in the strictest sense.

word
April 7th, 2015, 18:42
I think they still have those but nobody under 60 in their right mind would actually buy one.

greyjoy
April 7th, 2015, 23:41
Explaining Japan's feature phone fetish (http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/13/japan-loves-feature-phones/)

Most of my teachers have these, and frankly all of my students are way too excited whenever they realize that I have an iPhone. Granted, my students are all dirt poor eta, but it's easily observable that those phones are everywhere in this country.

Although I guess the qualifier "in their right mind" might be true enough.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 8th, 2015, 02:49
Explaining Japan's feature phone fetish (http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/13/japan-loves-feature-phones/)

Most of my teachers have these, and frankly all of my students are way too excited whenever they realize that I have an iPhone. Granted, my students are all dirt poor eta, but it's easily observable that those phones are everywhere in this country.

Although I guess the qualifier "in their right mind" might be true enough.

Japan also had the world's highest market penetration rate for fax machines with 53% of households owning one. I think the highest the US ever got to was 32%. And they still use faxes. I think there's something in the cultural zeitgeist that makes it hard for them to let go of things they're used to. Denshi jishou is another one of those. Then again, it could be that those aren't things that Americans hang on to and we have our own old technologies that we for some reason never replace, so who knows...

As for phones in Japan, just get a 2 year contract in Japan. It's almost the exact same as in America. The phone is subsidized to be either free or only a few hundred dollars.

webstaa
April 8th, 2015, 08:29
As for phones in Japan, just get a 2 year contract in Japan. It's almost the exact same as in America. The phone is subsidized to be either free or only a few hundred dollars.

I hate to call out a JET employee, but that's bullshit. Any phone not actually on sale will just be installment based. You will pay the FULL price of the phone over 12 or 24 months of installments. (Again, campaigns aside.) This is the same as in the US. The cost of the phone isn't 'subsidized' it's integrated into the contract. The difference being that Japanese carriers are upfront about it and US carriers are not - they'll make you pay a part upfront and the rest through the billing cycle.

Although Japanese carriers don't charge interest on the balance of the phone/installment plan - and you end up paying +/-1000 yen of the price of the phone instead of +/-$50 or more with US carriers.

(As an aside, your BoE/CO might mandate that you have a land-line in your apartment, in which case you'll probably have a fax machine as well...)

word
April 8th, 2015, 09:27
Explaining Japan's feature phone fetish (http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/13/japan-loves-feature-phones/)

Most of my teachers have these, and frankly all of my students are way too excited whenever they realize that I have an iPhone. Granted, my students are all dirt poor eta, but it's easily observable that those phones are everywhere in this country.

Although I guess the qualifier "in their right mind" might be true enough.Hmm, maybe my Japan is weird? Most of my teachers have smartphones; the iPhone is by far the most common (usually an iPhone 4 or 4s, but still). Most of my kids do, too (Android phones seem more common amongst the students, although there are an arseload of iPhones). The only flip/dumbphones I usually see are either in the hands of older teachers or kids whose parents are terribly afraid that the internet is going to rape their child to death somehow (and those kids, unfortunately, usually have computer skills reflective of this fear).


I hate to call out a JET employee, but that's bullshit. Any phone not actually on sale will just be installment based. You will pay the FULL price of the phone over 12 or 24 months of installments. (Again, campaigns aside.) This is the same as in the US. The cost of the phone isn't 'subsidized' it's integrated into the contract. The difference being that Japanese carriers are upfront about it and US carriers are not - they'll make you pay a part upfront and the rest through the billing cycle.

Although Japanese carriers don't charge interest on the balance of the phone/installment plan - and you end up paying +/-1000 yen of the price of the phone instead of +/-$50 or more with US carriers.

(As an aside, your BoE/CO might mandate that you have a land-line in your apartment, in which case you'll probably have a fax machine as well...)Hmm? New phone plans are very often subsidized, particularly for last years' model. Often the subsidy is not sufficient to pay for the phone, but it usually knocks a healthy chunk off of the total cost. C'mon, guys.

webstaa
April 8th, 2015, 09:36
Hmm? New phone plans are very often subsidized, particularly for last years' model. Often the subsidy is not sufficient to pay for the phone, but it usually knocks a healthy chunk off of the total cost. C'mon, guys.

Again, aside from old models, which in the US would normally drop in price, but in Japan go on 'campaign' to clear out inventory for the next year's models. It's not so much a subsidy as it is a contract dependent discount on the installment plan. If you leave you contract or upgrade your phone, you lose that discount and have to pay the remaining balance. I wouldn't call it a 'subsidy,' but I don't want to argue semantics.

Isola
April 8th, 2015, 09:42
I think they still have those but nobody under 60 in their right mind would actually buy one.

You've found me out...

I had a flip phone for my first three years here. I wasn't really given a choice, as the small cell phone shop that my supervisor took me to doesn't even carry smart phones.

If you're just using your phone as a phone, it's much cheaper to get a flip phone. You'll just be considered really uncool. Your obasan friends will be all about you, though. They felt very betrayed by me when I upgraded to an iPhone.

Ini
April 8th, 2015, 10:10
It took you 3 years to upgrade your phone?

word
April 8th, 2015, 10:22
I could see it. I got a flipphone when I first arrived; my block leader had gone in to help me and recommended that I just get the free phone. I'd not owned a smartphone before that and didn't really care. I probably would've kept it for a long time if MG hadn't showed up and been like "Uh LOL no I'm getting a smartphone." I upgraded at the same time and was startled to realized how awful it was having a dumbphone in comparison to the brain-boggling awesomeness of even a half-decent smartphone.

Isola
April 8th, 2015, 10:33
I was peer pressured into getting my smart phone, and even then I only did it because Docomo was running a campaign with free phones. I'm like Scrooge McDuck, hoarding all my money so I can dive into my private money pool.

singinglupines
April 8th, 2015, 10:58
I had a brick phone, Nokia style in Europe. It was only for calls, and then I also carried my smartphone for wifi stuff.

It works. Left a lot of students laughing XD

Ini
April 8th, 2015, 11:04
I had flip phones back when iPhones didn't exist but that was in the long long ago, before St Jobs showed us the path

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 10th, 2015, 02:20
I hate to call out a JET employee, but that's bullshit. Any phone not actually on sale will just be installment based. You will pay the FULL price of the phone over 12 or 24 months of installments. (Again, campaigns aside.) This is the same as in the US. The cost of the phone isn't 'subsidized' it's integrated into the contract. The difference being that Japanese carriers are upfront about it and US carriers are not - they'll make you pay a part upfront and the rest through the billing cycle.

Although Japanese carriers don't charge interest on the balance of the phone/installment plan - and you end up paying +/-1000 yen of the price of the phone instead of +/-$50 or more with US carriers.

(As an aside, your BoE/CO might mandate that you have a land-line in your apartment, in which case you'll probably have a fax machine as well...)

Aaaaaand you're wrong. Don't come into MY HOUSE (WHOSE HOUSE? MY HOUSE! ;)) and tell me I'm wrong when a quick Google search is all I need:

機種代金(ホワイトプランご利用時) | iPhone | 料金・割引 | モバイル | ソフトバンク (http://www.softbank.jp/mobile/price_plan/iphone/device/white-plan/)

Specifically, I'll use this example of getting a new iPhone 6 when you sign a 2-year contract at Softbank:

iPhone 6 機種代金一覧




新規/のりかえ(MNP)


モデル
16GB
64GB
128GB


分割現金支払
24回分割の場合※1、2
()内は、一括での
現金販売価格。
2,920円
(支払総額 70,080円)
3,470円
(支払総額 83,280円)
3,920円
(支払総額 94,080円)


月月割※2、3
最大24ヵ月間
-2,920円
(総額 -70,080円)
-2,930円
(総額 -70,320円)
-2,930円
(総額 -70,320円)


実質負担額
24ヵ月間
0円
540円
990円




When you sign up for a new contract you can choose either a 16GB, 64BG, or 128GB model. Every month you would need to pay 2,920 yen for the 16GB model, which would come out to ~$700 - the same price as if you were to purchase the iPhone by itself without a contract through the Apple Store.

(If you go to iPhone 6 - Buy iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus - Apple Store (U.S.) (http://store.apple.com/us/buy-iphone/iphone6) you can see that in America an unlocked iPhone is $649. A 16GB iPhone with a 2-year contract is $200, 64GB is $300, 128GB is $400. They are subsidized.)

Softbank basically takes what American cellphone companies do - subsidize a phone with a new contract - and break it down for you month by month. So here we can see that if you sign up for a 2-year contract you will pay 0 yen each month (2920 yen monthly fee - 2920 yen subsidy). If you go with the 64GB model you will pay 540 yen (~$5) each month for the phone (3470 yen monthly fee - 2930 yen subsidy). The 128GB will have you paying 990 yen / month. Multiply that by 24 months and you get $0 for the 16GB iPhone, ~$100 for the 64GB, and ~$200 for the 128GB. So you're actually getting a BETTER deal on the phone in Japan than you are in the US.

Note, however, that if you break contract early (you only stay for 1 year) you have to pay off the remainder of the phone at full price, not the subsidized price. Therefore if you get the 16GB and stay only one year, you'd pay nothing for 12 months, but then have to pay 2920yen x 12 months for the remainder of the contract (+ the breaking contract fee of ~$150). So financially it is worth it to stay at least 2 years.

Find out more about Softbank's plans (in English) here (Price Plans | Mobile | SoftBank (http://www.softbank.jp/en/mobile/iphone/price_plan/))

and here (White Plan (i) | Price Plans | iPhone | Mobile | SoftBank (http://www.softbank.jp/en/mobile/iphone/price_plan/white_plan/))

and here (http://cdn.softbank.jp/en/mobile/set/data/support/download-catalog/English.pdf)

Other carriers such as Docomo and Au might have other payment plans. The payment plan might also change if you're getting an Android versus an iPhone. When I first went on JET in 2009 Softbank was the only one carrying iPhones and Androids weren't popular. I'm sure there is a lot more variation now, but at the core, you should get a subsidized phone when you sign up for a 2-year contract.

It's also worth noting that I've heard of JETs who have had to pay the full subsidized price upfront. Apparently this was because of an issue with foreigners signing up for a contract then leaving the country with the phone shortly thereafter. I don't know if this is true or not since it was all hearsay, but that's worth keeping in mind. I know some JETs have a hard time getting a credit card where as others can easily get one - there's lots of variance, unfortunately.

Viral
April 10th, 2015, 02:33
Big block of text confused me. I got the idea that the phone costs 540yen per month (64 gb) from that, which can't be the case. What are the other costs? And what do these contracts consist of? Unlimited calls/ texts etc, or is it just the ability to have the handset?

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 10th, 2015, 02:47
Big block of text confused me. I got the idea that the phone costs 540yen per month (64 gb) from that, which can't be the case. What are the other costs? And what do these contracts consist of? Unlimited calls/ texts etc, or is it just the ability to have the handset?

That's the price of just the phone itself. You then can sign up for different data / voice plans. I think in general Japan offers unlimited data plans as the default. You then pay for how many hours of talking you want. The reason for this is that Japan sort of built their cellphone payment infrastructure in the reverse order than ours. In the beginning of Japan's cellphone era you got unlimited texts and then paid for voice. This was because their texting was actually email - you received an email account that was @phonecompany and used that email through your phone. In America, though, we got unlimited voice and had to pay extra to text, since it was to the phone number and not some added on email account. Now that's all sort of melded together - I remember my friend thinking it was amazing to have an AIM-like chat conversation on your phone instead of every message be a separate email. I don't know if with over-wifi free Facetime and calls that the payment plans for voice have decreased or what they're like. Just a few years ago, though, on Softbank it used to be something like free calls to other Softbank users and during the hours of 6am -10pm to everyone else but from 10pm - 6am it was like 30 cents a minute. Something weird like that.

In general the data plan + voice plan will cost you around 8,000 yen (~$80) / month. Add the price per month of your phone on top of that and that's your monthly phone bill.

If you happen to have a smartphone that is capable with Japanese networks (note: being unlocked doesn't mean it can work with Japanese networks - it needs to be a certain band number, which you can find online), you still then need to pay for the data + voice plan. So you're not really doing yourself a favor if you bring over an older phone; you might as well pay the $5 or $10 a month and get a higher end phone, or just get the free 16GB phone.

weepinbell
April 10th, 2015, 03:01
So you're tellin me with the subsidy from SoftBank, I can get a 16gb phone for free with the voice/text plan... I like that, I literally have only ever owned 16gb iPhones and never filled one up once.

So no voice plans are unlimited? I guess I don't expect to use my phone for talking much, but it'd be nice to find out if Facetime was included in that figure. I guess I could just skype/google talk though.

Ps, is google talk free? I've heard you can buy your old phone number on it and then use it for free, but I don't know how true that is. I'd like to preserve my American phone number if possible...

ambrosse
April 10th, 2015, 03:07
Any smartphone is an upgrade for me. I'm still livin' in the past. Flip phone, no texting, no data, unlimited calling after 9pm and on weekends, lol.
TAKE MY MONEY NOW

Viral
April 10th, 2015, 03:20
Oh wow that's very expensive from what I can see. It sucks that its not much cheaper if I bring my own phone. I'd rather not use an iPhone, and I just bought myself an HTC One M8 which I'd be happy using for the next 2+ years anyway. I'll check the band numbers, hope for the best, buy myself out of the contract, hope that I can unlock it, go to Japan, hope that someone sells me a sim, and again, hope for the best.

weepinbell
April 10th, 2015, 03:32
Oh wow that's very expensive from what I can see. It sucks that its not much cheaper if I bring my own phone. I'd rather not use an iPhone, and I just bought myself an HTC One M8 which I'd be happy using for the next 2+ years anyway. I'll check the band numbers, hope for the best, buy myself out of the contract, hope that I can unlock it, go to Japan, hope that someone sells me a sim, and again, hope for the best.

Do you consider 80/mo for full smart phone service expensive? I'm pretty happy with that, hopefully I'll be able to make that number work when I go get a contract... I considered unlocking, but wow is it a pain in the ass in the first place. From what people there have told me, no one at a phone place will sell you just a simcard without a phone/prepaid or contract and if you do happen to find one, they don't fit anyway so you have to cut it (for iPhone at least..)

singinglupines
April 10th, 2015, 04:09
I also find that very expensive. I am on 200 MB data right now, send like 100 texts a month and make almost no calls. I had a pre paid phone before and paid about $100 over 8 months for the phone and voice/text. I'm just not a heavy user.

I'm thinking I'll get a crappy phone and just put the sim card in my unlocked galaxy s4. Hope that works.

frayedflower
April 10th, 2015, 04:32
This is going to sound like a silly question, but in my case, I have a Galaxy Note 4 instead of an iPhone, and I've mostly seen the iPhone being discussed so I just want to clarify. Things like sim cards are relatively easy to switch in and out on this model - would it still be easier just to get a new phone? (I already kind of assumed I would just have to get a new phone anyway, so the price break-down was super helpful!)

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 10th, 2015, 05:14
I don't think $80/month is that bad, especially for an unlimited data plan. If you're not a heavy data user in America you may find that your usage will go up in Japan. Google Maps is almost essential for finding your way around Japan, and you're going to have a lot of downtime during your free periods at school where you'll want to surf Reddit or something. I think American plans with ~5gb/month are something similar, like $60/month.


Frayedflower - Unfortunately I know nothing about Android phones. I would only imagine that the higher end models have plans like the iPhone, but I would also imagine that there's more variation in pricing given the variation in phones running Android OS. Also, I remember reading online somewhere that Japanese carriers can detect when you're using an out-of-country unlocked phone with one of their SIM cards, and they'll charge you an arm and a leg extra for it. I can't find a trustworthy source that shows definitively that's the case, though. Your best bet (as is everyone who goes to Japan) is to ask the other JETs in your prefecture what they have. They'll be able to tell you what carrier has the best reception in your area and give you recommendations on what to get.

Viral
April 10th, 2015, 07:22
Yes, it's expensive. From the links, those 'unlimited' data plans are 5gb or so (i.e not unlimited).

On my HTC One M8 with unlimited calls & texts and 6gb data for £28/ month ($41.20 USD).

Gizmotech
April 10th, 2015, 08:03
Viral. Stop hoping and thinking like this is Europe. Japan is a cellular backwater. My mate did EXACTLY what you are saying, ended up having a shit first few months, then eventually just bought himself a phone over here. He regrets every minute of it because you kind of need your phone here to work, and this whole "well I'll just hope to find a Japanese retailer that isn't backwater" is just being culturally naive.

weepinbell
April 10th, 2015, 08:03
Yes, it's expensive. From the links, those 'unlimited' data plans are 5gb or so (i.e not unlimited).

On my HTC One M8 with unlimited calls & texts and 6gb data for £28/ month ($41.20 USD).

Lol I guess I'm used to expensive rates in the US? With the salary we get on JET though, I'm not too worried about it (I guess that's an esid thing but everyone I've talked to about phones whose there has no complaints with their plans). Especially since I will readily admit I'm SUPER dependent on my iphone :P

webstaa
April 10th, 2015, 08:42
Well subsidy vs discount aside, you'll probably be doing VERY little talking on the phone. Facetime, Hangouts, and Line etc are data usage. Which means you could get a phone and data only SIM and be OK. In fact, several JETs in my region do exactly that. And most carriers are pretty flexible about data - on Softbank you can log in and change your data charge plan every month if you want - for example if your internet connection gets knocked out by storm and you're on your phone alone for a week or so...

And you don't have to gamble on the contract discounts either - just get a used phone from a recycle (second-hand) shop in Akiba etc and get a data-only SIM on the cheap. Most of the data-only SIM vendors are reselling one of the big three's network, so compatibility isn't usually a problem.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 10th, 2015, 09:02
^ True. The landscape for the way people use their cellphones in Japan has changed within the past few years and continues to change. I imagine most people just use LINE VoIP instead of actually calling. LINE wasn't really a thing even 3 years ago, so there was a need for limited calling then. Best thing is really to talk to other JETs in your area and see what they do.

Ini
April 10th, 2015, 09:07
Why aren't you people ever receiving phonecalls?

greyjoy
April 10th, 2015, 13:04
I was unaware my phone was subsidized. My sempais were not communicating very well with the au people, who themselves pride themselves on lackluster communication skills. I was told the break down of the phone would be ~¥2500 per month, and the data plan ~5000. So my bill is generally in the ~8000 area. All of that is fairly comparable with American rates I think, although you can pay a lot more for data, and I paid a lot less for shittier service(virgin mobile still won't stop sending emails begging me to come back). ¥8000 seems a little steep for a plan, but since it works out the same, who cares?

I reiterate though, just buy the phone when you get here. There is absolutely no good reason not to do so, and that's coming from one of the most miserly jerks here. I spend money on almost nothing, but don't think twice about my phone bill.
Also don't make the mistake of thinking that you won't use it much. Aside from the maps issue Xander brought up, the culture here is extremely phone centric and when you see everyone from blind obaasans to the jhs table tennis team crammed together on a train peering at their phones, you don't want to be the asshole trying to read a book or staring back at the people pretending they're not staring at you.

A few tips though: calls made from the phone will almost always cost money, if a negligible amount. There's no anytime minutes here unless you pay extra, and you shouldn't because there are plenty of apps for that. Also, the native messenger app costs loads for international texts. This might be specific to my experience (iPhone on AU) but I imagine it's probably the same for all.

Also, buy a portable charger. Off amazon, or online anyway. You can get one that holds a few charges online for about ¥4000, which is only a little more than you'll find the single charge ones everywhere in the stores. My phone battery used to last all day with energy to spare, but now less than a year in, it can run out in 8 hours if I'm using it constantly. It still holds a charge well enough, but it's noticeably worse.

weepinbell
April 10th, 2015, 13:53
So you can literally just not get a plan for making calls? What about contacting your supervisor and stuff, wouldn't you need a call plan for that for that? Or are you saying there are other apps to make calls directly to Japanese numbers through data? I'm a little confused on that.

Also, are the iPhone chargers the same as in America? Like the plug that goes into the iPhone? Thinking about getting a portable charger to use when I bring my current iPhone over as an iPod, so I wonder if I can just continue to use it on my new phone.

Aqua
April 10th, 2015, 14:09
I think they're onto the data-only LINE people. It's a bit of a haze, but I definitely remember sitting in the cellphone shop with my sempai trying to negotiate the same data-only deal they were on, but AU said they were cutting that plan. My bill is still only ~¥8,500, though. It doesn't change how any of us use our phones - there are just these unused minutes floating around. I only get phonecalls when there's bad weather in the morning and my JTE calls frantically at 7am because he thinks I might be dead. (What good calling will do, I have no idea.)

webstaa
April 10th, 2015, 14:38
So you can literally just not get a plan for making calls? What about contacting your supervisor and stuff, wouldn't you need a call plan for that for that? Or are you saying there are other apps to make calls directly to Japanese numbers through data? I'm a little confused on that.

This is the 21st Century. If I need to contact someone, it's almost always faster and easier to send them an email - although it depends who you're contacting. Luckily, my supervisors all contact me either by land-line at the school or email. The only phone calls I use my cell phone for are international contacts I can't use other methods with.

And you can call to/from regular phones from LINE with their paid service. It seems to work fine for my friends who use it. Although I'm still stuck in a regular contract, so I don't have any experience using it.

Softbank changed their plans a few months ago, and probably every carrier will do that now and again.

Apple chargers are the same. If you have a problem, get a shitty generic USB charger and a USB/lightning cable.

Ini
April 10th, 2015, 14:49
what a carefree and whimsical life you must lead.

Virgil
April 10th, 2015, 15:54
This is going to sound like a silly question, but in my case, I have a Galaxy Note 4 instead of an iPhone, and I've mostly seen the iPhone being discussed so I just want to clarify. Things like sim cards are relatively easy to switch in and out on this model - would it still be easier just to get a new phone? (I already kind of assumed I would just have to get a new phone anyway, so the price break-down was super helpful!)

I bought a Note 4 on release date, not too long before I was upgraded. I still have it sitting on my table, gathering dust. I tried to negotiate with Softbank and they wouldn't even try. Besides that, the Note 4's bootloader is locked - and the AT&T version can NOT be rooted. As far as I know only your carrier can unlock it to be used on other carriers, and good luck with that.

Viral
April 10th, 2015, 22:43
Viral. Stop hoping and thinking like this is Europe. Japan is a cellular backwater. My mate did EXACTLY what you are saying, ended up having a shit first few months, then eventually just bought himself a phone over here. He regrets every minute of it because you kind of need your phone here to work, and this whole "well I'll just hope to find a Japanese retailer that isn't backwater" is just being culturally naive.

Umm. I'm not. I will go there, attempt to somehow get my HTC working, and if it doesn't, THEN I'll sort something else out. I'm not going to just jump into £60/month without testing out a cheaper alternative. If it helps, I'm not going with JET, and I will be in Tokyo so it's a lot easier for me in that sense.

Ini
April 10th, 2015, 22:48
hate to break it to you but i drop 120gbp a month on my phone. if you can get away with 60 then take it

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 11th, 2015, 01:17
So you can literally just not get a plan for making calls? What about contacting your supervisor and stuff, wouldn't you need a call plan for that for that? Or are you saying there are other apps to make calls directly to Japanese numbers through data? I'm a little confused on that.

You can always make calls from your phone - the plans are to keep the cost per minute down. So instead of being like 30 cents/minute you'd pay $10/month extra to make that 5 cents/minute, or something like that. You will end up making calls. Maybe it won't be to your friends, but instead to things like your schools, JTEs, supervisors, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, businesses, taxi services, etc.

I think it comes down to how much of a headache do you want to give yourself in researching phones to try to get the very best deal you want. You could do a ton of research when you're there and spend a few weeks phoneless until you figure out the exact plan you want...or you can just get the normal general package that works for most people. I did the basic plan - 2 year contract, get a phone when I sign up, get the basic voice option (this also gives you voice mail - yes, you have to pay extra for that, at least I did), and boom you're done. A lot of JETs will get their phone on their second day in their prefecture, since it could take a few weeks (to a few months) to get your internet installed, and most of us want to be connected to the internet and to each other ASAP.

Ini
April 11th, 2015, 01:40
You can always make calls from your phone - the plans are to keep the cost per minute down. So instead of being like 30 cents/minute you'd pay $10/month extra to make that 5 cents/minute, or something like that. You will end up making calls. Maybe it won't be to your friends, but instead to things like your schools, JTEs, supervisors, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, businesses, taxi services,

Unless you bring your existing phone and get a data only sim. Things have changed [in recent years].

Ini
April 11th, 2015, 01:57
This is an important lesson. People will tell you to contact your "jet supervisor", CIR, PA, JET support hotline etc etc. Ignore all this shit and instead talk to somebody in your area who knows what they are talking about.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 11th, 2015, 07:52
*Edited to stay on topic*

mrcharisma
April 11th, 2015, 08:43
Ini, this is the one response you'll get from me. I can't claim that I will always have the best information, but I do try to get the most accurate and up-to-date info that I can. If I'm wrong with my advice, I welcome someone to present information that says otherwise - the more detailed and supported with facts, the better. I don't care if I'm wrong every time, so long as the right information gets to the outbound JETs.

I don't think sitting in your armchair and bitching about everything Japan and JET-related helps anyone. I think you single-handedly help give the bad rep that ITIL has for being a cesspool of complainers and bitchers. I'm sure your negative impact on the site and the community has a measurable financial blow to the administrators who pay for this site as well. It's quite an accomplishment for one man to have nearly 30,000 posts on this site, of which at least half I can only guess is nothing but vile criticism of other people.

Your current style of "Japan sucks, JET sucks, you suck" posting doesn't help anyone. You don't need to channel your inner Debito here. And if this is a reflection how you act in real life, I hope for the sake of all of us that you're no longer in Japan or working with children.

So there you go troll, there's your food. Make it last, because it's all you're going to get from me.

Ini isn't a poster I associate with Japan-bashing. When some spoiled child starts whining about injustice from their supervisor / BOE he's usually the first to point out the real culprit. Never saw him say JET sucks either but I think he has the same opinion as the rest of us on the likes of Interac etc.

word
April 11th, 2015, 10:42
Ugh, I guess I went to bed just an hour too early last night. This is getting messy. Let's try to keep things civil in here, or I'll have to do a bit more than edit and delete a couple of posts.

Jiggit
April 11th, 2015, 10:50
hate to break it to you but i drop 120gbp a month on my phone. if you can get away with 60 then take it
What? I was quoted just under 7000 yen a month for a 2 year LTE plan with an iPhone 6 on softbank.

Ini
April 11th, 2015, 10:51
I make phone calls and use a lot of data

Jiggit
April 11th, 2015, 11:24
You use more than 7 gigs a month? Try turning the wifi on every now and then

Ini
April 11th, 2015, 11:38
I use 10-12 a month. No wifi in my Japan

word
April 11th, 2015, 12:03
Yeah, since I started tethering instead of hooking up to my school's network, I hit 7gigs pretty quick.

Jiggit
April 11th, 2015, 15:53
How ghastly. Still, implying that 60 gbp (over 1man) a month is an average rate is a bit deceptive. 40 or 50 I'd more like it.

Ini
April 11th, 2015, 17:24
Ok, 50quid base rate + a tenner for your calls

Jiggit
April 11th, 2015, 17:36
Who does a JET have to call? You don't need anything other than line to keep the poon happy.

greyjoy
April 11th, 2015, 19:14
I make and take five calls max a month, for a total of maybe fifteen minutes. I call a bit more on line, but truthfully not much more.

Frap
April 11th, 2015, 20:59
I held off on getting a new phone (mine is due an upgrade) so I could get a slick one in Japan. I pay £38 a month for my current phone so 7000 yen p/m for an iPhone 6 is good enough for me!

Viral
April 11th, 2015, 22:56
Frap, what does the 7000 include?

Frap
April 12th, 2015, 03:09
Frap, what does the 7000 include?

Looking at the link earlier in the thread, it was like 5GB~ of data and unlimited calls, plus the iPhone 6. I'm not much of a on-the-go browser, so I can't imagine I'd need more than 5GB, even with Google maps.

Frap
April 12th, 2015, 03:15
A comment on Reddit in favour of just going for the smart phone:


got set up with a cell phone immediately and it was my life line. GPS and Internet


When I arrived in my town, my supervising JTE and vice principal took me to get my ID card, open a bank account, and get a cell phone before I settled into my apartment. We did it all in one day.
The phone negotiations took a while. I opted for an iPhone at the time (2009) because it was the only smart phone at the store with GPS. I am an android girl now but I don't regret that iPhone one bit. Like I said, it was my life line and the GPS was super helpful. I also used it to access HyperDia (http://www.hyperdia.com/en/) which is amazing for planning a trip on the trains. Book mark that one.

Fantasylife
April 12th, 2015, 03:37
This thread has put me at ease about phone service in Japan. Originally I was planning to do the whole 'bring my own phone and try to get it to work in Japan' deal, but the arguments against that are sound and so I'm happy to simply buy a phone when I get there. That said, I do intend to have my current number set up with Google Talk. Mostly to make things easier for my family and also because I'd like to use it whenever I come back. Luckily I'm on a month to month thing with Tmobile and my iPhone 4 is an oldie I bought on eBay years ago, so I don't have to worry about breaking a contract. I'll probably just use my iPhone as an iPod in Japan.

Viral
April 12th, 2015, 04:22
Looking at the link earlier in the thread, it was like 5GB~ of data and unlimited calls, plus the iPhone 6. I'm not much of a on-the-go browser, so I can't imagine I'd need more than 5GB, even with Google maps.

Thanks. I misread your post and assumed you were a current JET paying 7k, didn't realise you were referring to the document from before.


40 GBP wouldn't be too bad taking into account the apparent price difference, but I'm hoping I'm able to get a decent Android smartphone rather than an iPhone. When I went to Japan before I had an Android tablet and decided to program a few helpful apps which I'd like to re-use, and would rather not carry around a phone and a tablet!

From people with experience, which stores (Tokyo) seem to be the best for customer service/ price for phones? I'm going to be in the country for 1.5 years which is slightly annoying as I doubt the existence of a contract that can accommodate that, but if someone knows of one that would be extremely helpful!

singinglupines
April 12th, 2015, 05:32
I kinda want to try data only sim for my old phone and a get a cheap phone for voice.

Anything but an iPhone and I'll be satisfied enough.

Gizmotech
April 12th, 2015, 05:48
Do you guys realize that for the most part we make relatively okay money, and complaining about a 20$ a month difference between a data plan and a plan that comes with a smartphone and calling makes this whole discussion seem pointless?

I mean the starting take home is 2300$ a month, which is probably more than most of you are currently making (unless you're hot waitresses at a sports bar)

ambrosse
April 12th, 2015, 05:54
Do you guys realize that for the most part we make relatively okay money, and complaining about a 20$ a month difference between a data plan and a plan that comes with a smartphone and calling makes this whole discussion seem pointless?

I mean the starting take home is 2300$ a month, which is probably more than most of you are currently making (unless you're hot waitresses at a sports bar)


I can't complain about the cost of owning a smartphone. I don't have one currently, and I want one. Take my money now! lol

singinglupines
April 12th, 2015, 06:37
Honestly, it's almost what I make now, but I'm worried because I will still be paying my student loan and car loan. But mostly I'm super cheap XD

Fantasylife
April 12th, 2015, 09:03
To those of you with cell phones in Japan: When you hit your data limit, what happens next? Is your data simply cut off until the next cycle? Are you charged for any extra data you use beyond your limit? Or is your speed slowed?

Zolrak 22
April 12th, 2015, 09:11
Wouldn't that depend on the contract?

Fantasylife
April 12th, 2015, 09:13
Wouldn't that depend on the contract?

Yes, but I just wanted a general idea of the types of contracts people have, to get an idea of the options available.

Gizmotech
April 12th, 2015, 09:44
Depends on the contract. Some just charge you an obscene rate, others just throttle you.

weepinbell
April 12th, 2015, 09:57
Can I get unlimited data for around 7000-8000/mo or is that gonna be like obscenely expensive? I'm sure I can get by just fine without unlimited, but if it's possible why not...

Gizmotech
April 12th, 2015, 11:21
I don't think purely unlimited data exists anymore. Those 5/7gb caps are pretty much it. That being said, have internet at home, don't tether (/watch videos excessively) and you'll be fine.

johnny
April 12th, 2015, 14:23
Cancel your contract through any means necessary and get a new phone, full stop. I know a few people here with phones from their respective countries, and it's hard as hell to contact them for anything. Do not bother with any of the long and complicated processes of switching out sims, arguing with the Japanese carriers and giving up after hours of fruitless labor. You'll make enough money to pay for your new phone with no trouble.


word

Seriously; listen to greyjoy here, folks.

Grey Joy and Word are right. You'll have a lot of work to do in the first two weeks. Getting the phone is enough of a chore without adding the pain of trying to use a phone from abroad.




Do you guys realize that for the most part we make relatively okay money, and complaining about a 20$ a month difference between a data plan and a plan that comes with a smartphone and calling makes this whole discussion seem pointless?

I mean the starting take home is 2300$ a month, which is probably more than most of you are currently making (unless you're hot waitresses at a sports bar)

This is also correct.

One more thing. I use Softbank, and I don't get charged for Softbank to Softbank calls. Unless they've changed that, if a lot of your fellow Jets you Softbank, call them all you like.

acpc2203
April 12th, 2015, 14:58
I don't think purely unlimited data exists anymore. Those 5/7gb caps are pretty much it. That being said, have internet at home, don't tether (/watch videos excessively) and you'll be fine.
Yeah they say it is unlimited but your bandwidth plummets after you use 5/7 gb of data. I'd say it is the equivalent of 2G (What the first iphones had), so you can use it to check emails and simple sites.

word
April 12th, 2015, 21:15
Yeah they say it is unlimited but your bandwidth plummets after you use 5/7 gb of data. I'd say it is the equivalent of 2G (What the first iphones had), so you can use it to check emails and simple sites.

It is true that you'll take a pretty substantial bandwidth hit after a certain amount, but my experience isn't quite that bad. I'm with AU/KDDI, and because I often tether my phone at school all day, I pretty regularly hit the 7gig cap. After that, my bandwidth does drop, but it's more like 3G speeds--definitely manageable and more than enough for average web browsing.

This could be something related to the fact that I live in a very small city, at least two hours away from any decent-sized city.

Ananasboat
April 12th, 2015, 21:38
Guys, this is a problem you fight face when you get here, so make sure if you supervisor emails you tell them you would like internet service at home. Most of the people in my town had to go through lengthily processes to get it once they got here. I had mine from day one but that was only because my supervisor asked me. Other ALTs had to wait two or three months before they got there's. Honestly that is the bigger annoyance once you get here.

webstaa
April 13th, 2015, 08:37
Guys, this is a problem you fight face when you get here, so make sure if you supervisor emails you tell them you would like internet service at home. Most of the people in my town had to go through lengthily processes to get it once they got here. I had mine from day one but that was only because my supervisor asked me. Other ALTs had to wait two or three months before they got there's. Honestly that is the bigger annoyance once you get here.

This is important. Two to three months isn't even an overstatement. Even in the city. NTT works at the speed of slow.

acpc2203
April 13th, 2015, 09:00
Yeah I found that out when I was dorming, some people were lucky and had residual contracts from the people who were there before, otherwise it took a month and a ton of paperwork to get it set up. And when I switched dorms I had to fill it all out again.

acpc2203
April 13th, 2015, 09:07
It is true that you'll take a pretty substantial bandwidth hit after a certain amount, but my experience isn't quite that bad. I'm with AU/KDDI, and because I often tether my phone at school all day, I pretty regularly hit the 7gig cap. After that, my bandwidth does drop, but it's more like 3G speeds--definitely manageable and more than enough for average web browsing.

This could be something related to the fact that I live in a very small city, at least two hours away from any decent-sized city.
Ah yeah I was Okinawa in the middle of the city and even not throttled the speeds weren't great. Also if you end up in Okinawa AU has better coverage than anything else.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 14th, 2015, 01:15
Another tip for those planning on getting a phone in Japan - you can always sell the phone when you're done with it and make back some money. I'm not sure what the best place is to sell your phone back in Japan, so if anyone has any leads they could share, that'd be great. What I can say is from my personal experience taking my Japanese iPhone with me back to the US in 2012 and then trying to sell it here was really tough. Apple has a buy back program that wouldn't accept it because it was from another country. (You'd think they could deal with that but I had my phone sent back to me with a note saying they can't accept foreign iPhones. That might have changed in the last two years but you'd have to check.) I ended up selling it on eBay but those in the market for a Japanese smartphone in the US aren't very common. So my advice would be to try to sell it in Japan before you come back to the US. If you are over in Japan for at least two years then when you come back to the US (or wherever your home country is) you'll be eligible for a new 2-year plan with a discounted new phone.

BifCarbet
April 14th, 2015, 04:37
So my advice would be to try to sell it in Japan before you come back to the US.

I have seen phones in a used goods shop (2nd Street, but I don't know if those are nationwide yet). I assume they will pay you pennies on the dollar for it, but it might be OK for a desperation sale.

weepinbell
April 14th, 2015, 06:33
Guys, this is a problem you fight face when you get here, so make sure if you supervisor emails you tell them you would like internet service at home. Most of the people in my town had to go through lengthily processes to get it once they got here. I had mine from day one but that was only because my supervisor asked me. Other ALTs had to wait two or three months before they got there's. Honestly that is the bigger annoyance once you get here.

Omg... what a pain in the ass. When does your supervisor typically email (if they do), around after placements are sent? Just ask about it then? I definitely don't wanna rely on data for months lol.

Jwang
April 14th, 2015, 06:37
Selling items to a recycle shop is the easiest way to dispose of them in my opinion, but as the poster above said they wont pay much money for anything. If its boxed and in good condition a specialist used computer shop may pay a little more but they can be more thorough when appraising your goods and because they are going to resell it you still wont get top dollar for anything. You would make more money selling directly, either to somebody you know, an incoming ALT or via a site like ヤフオク! - 日本最大級のネットオークションサイト (http://auctions.yahoo.co.jp/).

Shincantsen
April 14th, 2015, 23:47
Omg... what a pain in the ass. When does your supervisor typically email (if they do), around after placements are sent? Just ask about it then? I definitely don't wanna rely on data for months lol.

This may not be through your supervisor, either. The easiest way to keep internet is to transfer the service over to your name from your predecessor's. When I left, another current JET was moving into my apartment, so we just met the internet guy together and both signed. That way there was no interruption in internet service. I'm not sure it's possible to transfer service if both of you aren't in the country at once, but it's worth a try.

Also please keep in mind that this is a bit of a hassle for your predecessor, so try to thank them accordingly.

coop52
April 15th, 2015, 00:48
I think a lot of the delay is due to supervisors getting too busy to fill out the paperwork. Both times I signed up for Internet on my own, once with NTT and once with YahooBB, took 2-3 weeks from filling out the form and getting the modem/dude coming to the apartment. It used to be that they had to wait a while to get your gaijin card before they could start the process, but these days new folks get theirs right away.

word
April 15th, 2015, 09:21
Yeah, it took me about a month initially; I did it all on my own. When I later switched providers and upgraded to fiber, it happened even faster and again, I managed it on my own. I'm thinking about upgrading again, but am uncertain if the deal I'm being offered is too good to be true (it seems to be).

Zolrak 22
April 15th, 2015, 09:30
I'm thinking about upgrading again, but am uncertain if the deal I'm being offered is too good to be true (it seems to be).

How bad are Japanese companies with hidden fees and the like?

As bad as USA?

Jiggit
April 15th, 2015, 09:40
How bad are Japanese companies with hidden fees and the like?

As bad as USA?

A lot of it depends on whether you're relying on your supervisor or not. Stuff that would be pretty obviously worthless to you might not seem so to the average Japanese, as they can be pretty tech-illiterate and tend to just nod their agreement through the whole explanation. If you're able to do it yourself you can just say "oh I don't need that" to stuff and it's pretty simple.

I'm not sure how bad it is in the USA. Generally the phone companies are worse and will try to sign you up for worthless "services". They do a lot of "you can get this thing for free for 3 months!" which is basically just "after 3 months we'll start charging you more". So long as you understand what everything is and just say "no thank you" it should be fine. Internet is a lot simpler, the only tricky thing I can think of is having to pay your ISP separately. That's for the fiber anyway, not sure about broadband providers.

Jwang
April 15th, 2015, 11:31
My advice when it comes to home internet is to sign up for everything to maximize your bonuses then cancel everything immediately so you don't end up paying for anything you don't need. I signed up for all sorts of video streaming services and strange little boxes you plug into the modem to monitor your houses electricity usage remotely. Once I got my free 40inch TV off them I cancelled everything except the basic internet package.

Zolrak 22
April 15th, 2015, 11:37
Pretty sure they'd charge you for canceling services like that.

Especially if you were supposed to get something in return...

Jwang
April 15th, 2015, 11:46
The packages normally include a months free trial but most people are too lazy to cancel after the first month. This is just speaking from personal experience though.

Gizmotech
April 15th, 2015, 11:51
I wouldn't bother with it to be honest. Buying a new computer in Japan and getting your internet setup at the same time is a good deal to take advantage of (often laptops at half price), but most of the phone add-on bundles are just that, addon garbage that you might as well trim out at the beginning. Often their "discounts" don't equal the price of the addon after 6 months.

Apollo87
April 15th, 2015, 14:24
My friend is using his unlocked Galaxy S4 with a mobile data sim, no phone service. I think he has unlimited data for around Y3000/month. He uses a skype phone number to make and take calls in place of a real cellphone number. It seems to be working pretty well for him and his monthly bill is super cheap compared to my expensive white plan with 6gb of data/month from Softbank.

Another alternative (if you don't have an unlocked phone) is to get one of those wimax portable hotspots and keeping it turned on, with your phone (and other devices) connected to it via wifi (the data sim does essentially the exact same thing I think). They cost around Y3500/month and have no data cap. I know a few people who use them as their sole means of connecting to the internet, but no one who has ONLY a wimax portable hotspot AND no phone service.

Jwang
April 15th, 2015, 14:47
My friend is using his unlocked Galaxy S4 with a mobile data sim, no phone service. I think he has unlimited data for around Y3000/month. He uses a skype phone number to make and take calls in place of a real cellphone number. It seems to be working pretty well for him and his monthly bill is super cheap compared to my expensive white plan with 6gb of data/month from Softbank.How much does he spend a month on skype?

Apollo87
April 15th, 2015, 16:05
I just asked my buddy for the details again (we actually recorded a podcast about it but I havent gotten around to editing and uploading it yet.)

His cost for Skype is $40/year. As for the data sim, the provider he's with is called umobile, and he got it at the local big box electronic store called Yamada Denki. Bic Camera and the like would probably carry them, or at least some variation on the same idea for a similar cost too.

The cost for the data sim is Y2400/month for unlimited data(though at some point they probably throttle you). There is NO contract and the account is tied to his American credit card.

Definitely a solid optio at least worth consideration. I would have given it a shot had I known about it earlier and not upgraded to the iPhone 6 (and thus binding myself to the Softbank contract again). Ah well, no ragrets.

Apollo87
April 15th, 2015, 16:54
My advice when it comes to home internet is to sign up for everything to maximize your bonuses then cancel everything immediately so you don't end up paying for anything you don't need. I signed up for all sorts of video streaming services and strange little boxes you plug into the modem to monitor your houses electricity usage remotely. Once I got my free 40inch TV off them I cancelled everything except the basic internet package.

This is is exactly what I did, worked like a charm.

acpc2203
April 15th, 2015, 17:02
I wouldn't bother with it to be honest. Buying a new computer in Japan and getting your internet setup at the same time is a good deal to take advantage of (often laptops at half price), but most of the phone add-on bundles are just that, addon garbage that you might as well trim out at the beginning. Often their "discounts" don't equal the price of the addon after 6 months.
Right now my laptop is on it's last legs and I'm not going to bring my desktop to Japan. Should I get a laptop here or try to get a deal like that when I get to Japan? Was thinking of getting something along the lines of a thinkpad.

Apollo87
April 15th, 2015, 18:54
Right now my laptop is on it's last legs and I'm not going to bring my desktop to Japan. Should I get a laptop here or try to get a deal like that when I get to Japan? Was thinking of getting something along the lines of a thinkpad.

I haven't seen any Thinkpads in-store in the usual big-box retailer. Usually, its Japanese brands like Fujitsu and NEC. I do see Microsoft Surface tablet/laptop hybrids now sometimes though.

A cursory walk around the electronics store yields zero windows laptops that I would want to buy. Spec wise they are nothing great and they are all heavy, bulky and plastic. Nothing with an integrated graphics card or good for gaming.

Not to be too much of a fanboy, but the macbook pro that I got when I came to Japan has served me faithfully for 5 years. Also assuming you live somewhat close to an Apple store, Applecare is great.

When I came to Japan, my MPB was several hundred dollars cheaper than if I had bought it in Canada. However a quick look at the apple Japan and US websites suggest that they may have cracked down on the price difference. In anycase, I bought mine at a Yamada Denki and also got 10% of the purchase cost in points that I could use towards anything in-store, so I bought a 1080p monitor. However, you could have one of your co-workers or maybe your supervisor buy it for you online and use their education discount (thats what my friend did). That would also enable you to order a machine spec'ed with a US layout keyboard.

Zolrak 22
April 15th, 2015, 19:41
Nothing with an integrated graphics card or good for gaming.

Yet you go with the Mac Pro?

Man...

Macs must have changed a lot since I last checked if they work for gaming now.

Apollo87
April 15th, 2015, 20:54
MBP, not Mac Pro , but nope I don't do any gaming on it. I ran a little bit of SC2 on it like 4 years ago but those days are long passed. I just thought maybe some people were thinking about gaming on their laptop or needed something more than the integrated graphics.

singinglupines
April 15th, 2015, 21:03
I just asked my buddy for the details again (we actually recorded a podcast about it but I havent gotten around to editing and uploading it yet.)

His cost for Skype is $40/year. As for the data sim, the provider he's with is called umobile, and he got it at the local big box electronic store called Yamada Denki. Bic Camera and the like would probably carry them, or at least some variation on the same idea for a similar cost too.

The cost for the data sim is Y2400/month for unlimited data(though at some point they probably throttle you). There is NO contract and the account is tied to his American credit card.

Definitely a solid optio at least worth consideration. I would have given it a shot had I known about it earlier and not upgraded to the iPhone 6 (and thus binding myself to the Softbank contract again). Ah well, no ragrets.

Exactly what I wanted to know/hear. My only concern was the call quality with skype, but if it works, yay.

Perilwink
April 16th, 2015, 04:49
Would buying a new laptop pre-Japan be worth it, or would there be too many unforeseeable difficulties? Mine is also on its last legs, but I remember last time I was in Japan it did pretty well, but I wasn't using it for everything. And while my Japanese is decent, having an entire OS in Japanese would be overwhelming when I need to fix those quick little computer problems.

Gizmotech
April 16th, 2015, 07:50
Would buying a new laptop pre-Japan be worth it, or would there be too many unforeseeable difficulties? Mine is also on its last legs, but I remember last time I was in Japan it did pretty well, but I wasn't using it for everything. And while my Japanese is decent, having an entire OS in Japanese would be overwhelming when I need to fix those quick little computer problems.

Depends what you need? If you're looking for something with higher end (read gaming) specs buy at home from ncix or something. If you don't care, get it at a discount here in Japan with your internet from the electronics store.

As for Japanese os, windows 8 and max os both support free full language conversion so while you might have trouble getting it switched to English once it's done the account/system is in English, and having the English Japanese keyboard toggle is very handy if you're doing a lot of Japanese typing.

Someone earlier mentioned thinkpads, I've only ever seen some very limited models over here in store.

Perilwink
April 16th, 2015, 10:36
Depends what you need? If you're looking for something with higher end (read gaming) specs buy at home from ncix or something. If you don't care, get it at a discount here in Japan with your internet from the electronics store.

As for Japanese os, windows 8 and max os both support free full language conversion so while you might have trouble getting it switched to English once it's done the account/system is in English, and having the English Japanese keyboard toggle is very handy if you're doing a lot of Japanese typing.

Someone earlier mentioned thinkpads, I've only ever seen some very limited models over here in store.

Is the keyboard toggle any different from the Windows IMS language bar or whatever? Because typing up dual-language notes for my students have made my alt+~ skills pretty 1337. ;D

I guess my other option would be shipping my desktop to Japan, but that sounds much riskier than rehoming it.

webstaa
April 16th, 2015, 11:31
One thing to note is that the JIS keyboard layout is different. It's not based on the ANSI. Things like quotation marks are moved (alt+2.) Smaller spacebar flanked by character conversion keys. Normal capslock function is actually shift+capslock etc. You'll probably use one for work, but you can get ANSI keyboards at most electronics retailers too. If you have a JIS keyboard and set the layout to ANSI (the American Windows default) then you'll have extra keys that do nothing. You can experiment with using them as hotkeys with a few different programs if you're willing to tinker.

Most Japanese PCs come with a 3rd party IME, usually ATOK or Baidu IME etc. But Windows and Apple both have decent built in IME. And that isn't dependent on your keyboard layout. (I changed my IME switching hotkey to shift+caps on my personal PC, as it's close to the capslock function on the JIS layout input.)


Also, I'd like to add that I built a micro-ATX build before I came over and brought it in my suitcase. I'd suggest shipping it separately in a much better packed box. No TSA issues, but the case did get a little banged up. Although you can buy parts for close to the same price as the US from Japanese retailers if you look hard enough or anticipate sales. Dospara and Tsukumo are two retailers I'd recommend. Dospara usually has a good deal of used parts for very reasonable prices as well.

Perilwink
April 16th, 2015, 11:50
One thing to note is that the JIS keyboard layout is different. It's not based on the ANSI. Things like quotation marks are moved (alt+2.) Smaller spacebar flanked by character conversion keys. Normal capslock function is actually shift+capslock etc. You'll probably use one for work, but you can get ANSI keyboards at most electronics retailers too. If you have a JIS keyboard and set the layout to ANSI (the American Windows default) then you'll have extra keys that do nothing. You can experiment with using them as hotkeys with a few different programs if you're willing to tinker.

Most Japanese PCs come with a 3rd party IME, usually ATOK or Baidu IME etc. But Windows and Apple both have decent built in IME. And that isn't dependent on your keyboard layout. (I changed my IME switching hotkey to shift+caps on my personal PC, as it's close to the capslock function on the JIS layout input.)


Also, I'd like to add that I built a micro-ATX build before I came over and brought it in my suitcase. I'd suggest shipping it separately in a much better packed box. No TSA issues, but the case did get a little banged up. Although you can buy parts for close to the same price as the US from Japanese retailers if you look hard enough or anticipate sales. Dospara and Tsukumo are two retailers I'd recommend. Dospara usually has a good deal of used parts for very reasonable prices as well.

Oh wow, I did not know that about the keyboards. Thanks for the explanation! I can imagine the first few weeks of adjusting to that kind of typing would be frustrating, but after a while probably not so bad! Is it likely that I'd be using computers provided by work, or is it more reasonable to just bring your own laptop? My current laptop is a gaming behemoth that I thought would never leave the room, and I quickly learned that portability might be a necessary factor to look into once I started working, but the two don't seem to mix.

webstaa
April 16th, 2015, 12:01
Oh wow, I did not know that about the keyboards. Thanks for the explanation! I can imagine the first few weeks of adjusting to that kind of typing would be frustrating, but after a while probably not so bad! Is it likely that I'd be using computers provided by work, or is it more reasonable to just bring your own laptop? My current laptop is a gaming behemoth that I thought would never leave the room, and I quickly learned that portability might be a necessary factor to look into once I started working, but the two don't seem to mix.

Depends on your BoE/Prefectural BoE etc. Some have a 'no personal devices' policy - you aren't allowed to use personal devices to store school data or access school networks. Others are much more laid back - not quite BYOD, but they'll let you use it, join the network and print from it. Generally depending on how 'privacy' focused the school is. (Some schools are really strict about student data, including pictures. Mostly a good idea NOT to share any pictures you take with students at school or in their uniform on social media. Net-bullying and all that.)

Most schools will have laptops for the teachers/staff, mostly with Windows 7. ES has 'digital textbooks' accompanying most regular textbooks, so there should be one available for that purpose at least. Although you might end up sharing the spare PC if you're a dispatch ALT.

I use leased (by the school) Fujitsu laptops at my schools. One new, one... not so much.

Perilwink
April 16th, 2015, 12:23
Depends on your BoE/Prefectural BoE etc. Some have a 'no personal devices' policy - you aren't allowed to use personal devices to store school data or access school networks. Others are much more laid back - not quite BYOD, but they'll let you use it, join the network and print from it. Generally depending on how 'privacy' focused the school is. (Some schools are really strict about student data, including pictures. Mostly a good idea NOT to share any pictures you take with students at school or in their uniform on social media. Net-bullying and all that.)

Most schools will have laptops for the teachers/staff, mostly with Windows 7. ES has 'digital textbooks' accompanying most regular textbooks, so there should be one available for that purpose at least. Although you might end up sharing the spare PC if you're a dispatch ALT.

I use leased (by the school) Fujitsu laptops at my schools. One new, one... not so much.

That would probably be just fine to get me through the work day. I assume I would be able to access dropbox/gmail/usb/whatever to access documents across multiple devices, which is all I would need for lesson planning and the like. Alleviating the infamous JET boredom could still be up in the air...!!

Thanks for your responses Webstaa and Gizmo, they are super informative.

word
April 16th, 2015, 12:46
That would probably be just fine to get me through the work day. I assume I would be able to access dropbox/gmail/usb/whatever to access documents across multiple devices, which is all I would need for lesson planning and the like. Alleviating the infamous JET boredom could still be up in the air...!!

Thanks for your responses Webstaa and Gizmo, they are super informative.My school blocks gmail, among other things (weirdly, not Facebook).

uthinkimlost?
April 16th, 2015, 12:52
My school blocks Facebook, among other things (weirdly, not gmail).

Now it applies to me!

acpc2203
April 16th, 2015, 16:56
Well turns out the bank where my friend works at is selling their 2-3 year old thinkpads for cheap so I'll just pick one up from there. What do you think the optimum size laptop for an ALT is? They have 12.5" ultrabooks, as well as 14" and 15" notebooks. Was leaning towards the compromise of the 14".

Gizmotech
April 16th, 2015, 17:07
Well turns out the bank where my friend works at is selling their 2-3 year old thinkpads for cheap so I'll just pick one up from there. What do you think the optimum size laptop for an ALT is? They have 12.5" ultrabooks, as well as 14" and 15" notebooks. Was leaning towards the compromise of the 14".

Depends. If they're the same series (r) then go big. If (t) 14 go t. If you think at all that you're gonna be carrying it go 12.5 (x)

acpc2203
April 16th, 2015, 17:43
Just had him send me the specs and prices along with pics of the ones in the best condition. I think I'll get a 14" one unless the screens on the other ones blow me away (The 12.5" ones are IPS and a couple of the 15" are 1920x1080), since it is the cheapest while still having a good mix of usability and portability.

Gizmotech
April 16th, 2015, 20:46
For thinkpads it's more about series than specs. Which series are they?

johnny
April 16th, 2015, 21:57
Speaking of computers, if I get a job early enough when I get back, I was thinking of an alienware laptop. Are they worth it in any way shape or form, or are they stupidly overpriced computers for suckers?

weepinbell
April 16th, 2015, 23:09
Would buying a new laptop pre-Japan be worth it, or would there be too many unforeseeable difficulties? Mine is also on its last legs, but I remember last time I was in Japan it did pretty well, but I wasn't using it for everything. And while my Japanese is decent, having an entire OS in Japanese would be overwhelming when I need to fix those quick little computer problems.

I'm in the same boat. My macbook pro is going on 5 years, and while it's still got some juice left in it, there's no way it's gonna last in Japan. It's so freakin slow and freezes way too much for me to wanna deal... and the sound hasn't worked in over a year because a cord broke off in the headphone jack lol... I've tried everything and the only option according to every electronics store I've taken it to is to replace the motherboard which isn't even a sure fix. Ugh. I'm just getting a new one here because I don't really wanna deal with a Japanese OS. And then once you bring it back home, you can't really take it anywhere in the states to get fixed if you have problems...

Zolrak 22
April 16th, 2015, 23:28
Speaking of computers, if I get a job early enough when I get back, I was thinking of an alienware laptop. Are they worth it in any way shape or form, or are they stupidly overpriced computers for suckers?
All alienware is overpriced.

(it's kind of their shtick, they are basically the Apple of gaming PCs. You are paying for the experience/luxury and lifestyle).

Worth it? Debatable.

If I could afford it, I'd think about it.

x_stei
April 17th, 2015, 01:46
I'm in the same boat. My macbook pro is going on 5 years, and while it's still got some juice left in it, there's no way it's gonna last in Japan. It's so freakin slow and freezes way too much for me to wanna deal... and the sound hasn't worked in over a year because a cord broke off in the headphone jack lol... I've tried everything and the only option according to every electronics store I've taken it to is to replace the motherboard which isn't even a sure fix. Ugh. I'm just getting a new one here because I don't really wanna deal with a Japanese OS. And then once you bring it back home, you can't really take it anywhere in the states to get fixed if you have problems...

I was thinking about getting a new MacBook (Pro or Air) because my 4 year old Asus is struggling to keep up with my expectations of technology. I suppose that getting this before leaving for Japan is a good idea guys?

Viral
April 17th, 2015, 02:37
While we've sidetracked from the phone conversation onto laptops, I have a similar question to everyone else.

I have a laptop I bought for university, nearly had it 3 years now. 3rd gen i5, pretty decent specs elsewhere etc except it's still somehow slow as crap. It literally freezes whenever I do anything and runs at 100% disk, 100% of the time regardless of how little I have open. Either way, I despise Macs and use windows/linux as I needed to for my university programs etc (engineering). But now I'm going to Japan and leaving my degree behind (sort of..) I don't need to use those programs and therefore can branch out if I want. My girlfriend bought a mac last time we were in Japan and got it at about 60% of the price over here (UK). It's worked wonders for the year shes had it so far and she faces basically no problems at all. I don't really know what my question is, as I still don't think I could ever switch to Macs, but in that case, is it really that hard to find a decent windows laptop over there for a good price? By decent, I mean top specs without the gaming side. I don't game on my PC, but I want it to last as long as possible without freezing etc and allow me to have as much shit open as I want. Am I better off just buying something here then?

acpc2203
April 17th, 2015, 02:51
For thinkpads it's more about series than specs. Which series are they?
The 14 and 15 inch ones are T series and the 12.5" ones are X series. They have the last gen with the old keyboard which I really like.

acpc2203
April 17th, 2015, 03:06
To viral, check out amazon.jp they have plenty of high end laptops. I would also recommend formating your hard drive and doing a fresh install of your OS(es), Windows especially gets bogged down over the years. From what I've seen the prices are about the same as America, Mac stuff might even be cheaper with the exchange rate. If you don't like tinkering with your computer to get it to run smoothly I would recommend a Mac, the retina MacBook Pro is a very good laptop.

Viral
April 17th, 2015, 04:02
Yep, once uni finishes that's what I've been planning to do. Basically get this thing as close to factory as possible and see if it still runs like a potato. If it does, I have an excuse to buy something new. If not, I'll live it out another 1.5 years!

weepinbell
April 17th, 2015, 04:12
I'm getting an air. Apparently the normal plug (not extension) is compatible in japan bc it's 2 pronged so that's kinda nice. Also Apple stores in japan have English speaking staff.... Not so sure if they can fix American products tho.

acpc2203
April 17th, 2015, 04:43
In a pinch you could change your system language to Japanese, the products aren't different at any base level besides the keyboard. IIRC Apple warranties are worldwide, so it you shouldn't have trouble getting it serviced under warranty in Japan.

webstaa
April 17th, 2015, 08:30
Viral, that 3 year old laptop should be just fine. Backup the data you want to keep one last time and reformat. Or have someone do it for you if you're not inclined. You might even try upgrading to a SSD at the same time. 100% disk use sounds like malware.

Dululu
April 17th, 2015, 10:36
Buy your Mac here (especially if you are from the UK). They are very cheap, have an English speaking line and you can order with any type of keyboard, power adaptor and OS. Delivery is free to your house. You can even pay for it at the convenience store. Say you are a teacher and get another 8-10% off. Apple Care also available.

Unless its cheaper at home, wait and see what your situation is here then buy one here.

Gizmotech
April 17th, 2015, 10:50
I will say it again, any windows 8/mac os X system are fully language convertible. Anything windows 7 or below, or mac 10.7 (which is fricken ancient) can't do it.

Also, like dululu said, you can apply for the teacher's discount with proof of BoE/School employment.

Dululu
April 17th, 2015, 10:53
you don't even need proof. they ask you what school you work at and if it's the name of a school in japan they give you the discount!

greyjoy
April 17th, 2015, 13:10
I've looked at computers at a few of the electronics stores here, and they seem pretty average and overpriced. I haven't actually looked at a computer store though, so maybe there are some decent ones there. I'd planned on buying a desktop while here, but I never even see those around.

I bought a newish thinkpad before I left and it's trucking along very well. One thing to note about buying a laptop these days(or at least circa one year ago) is that you'll probably expect to pay a $250 premium to get a SSD installed instead of the still somehow standard HDD. Do not be at all scared to buy the SSD separate and install it yourself. It's incredibly easy. And you will want the SSD.

acpc2203
April 17th, 2015, 13:25
I ended up buying a 14" inch thinkpad T420. Has the old style thinkpad keyboard which I love and it felt like just right size compared to the 12.5" and 15" ones. The screen is mediocre but is fine for general use. Going to drop in a SSD and get a new battery before heading over. Hopefully I can get it to last as long as my old laptop.

Gizmotech
April 17th, 2015, 15:09
Ohh yah, a unit from that generation with an SSD and a new battery will be MORE than powerful enough for anything you might do (except gaming).

(I also love thinkpad keyboards, despise the new keyboards, and hope that my x201t doesn't break any more any time soon.

acpc2203
April 17th, 2015, 16:02
Yeah my old laptop is a T60 so it'll be a big upgrade. Shame that they switched the keyboard and the quality of ThinkPads in general has fallen off since then. I even got one with a dedicated (albeit puny) GPU, so it should handle high res video and light gaming well. I wish the screen was better but at least it is a decent resolution, was heavily tempted by a T520 which had great 1080P screen but it was $100 more and was noticeably more hefty.

vaterross
April 17th, 2015, 16:10
Since the topic here seems to have shifted a bit to computers, I was wondering what the PC Cafe situation is like in the rural areas.

In my current location (Korea), anywhere with more than a few hundred people has a cheap internet cafe where I can load up steam and install whatever games I want to play. Some of them run limited privileges and web filters, but for the most part I can pop in and do pretty much whatever I like. Is is like that in rural Japan?

Apollo87
April 18th, 2015, 05:06
Nope. PC gaming is not at all a thing in Japan. There are "manga cafes" which are like the equivalent of PC/net cafes but they are always old computers that are barely able to run Windows 7. I don't think I've ever seen one in a rural area.

Zolrak 22
April 18th, 2015, 06:17
You can get arcades and places to play your DS and PSP though.

webstaa
April 18th, 2015, 08:22
Nope. PC gaming is not at all a thing in Japan. There are "manga cafes" which are like the equivalent of PC/net cafes but they are always old computers that are barely able to run Windows 7. I don't think I've ever seen one in a rural area.

This. Out of the 8-10 media cafes I've been to, I think only 1 had 'recent' hardware - first generation i7 (circa 2009) with an Geforce 9 series graphics card. But I've been to only 3 in larger cities - 2 in Tokyo and 1 in Sendai.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 25th, 2015, 02:22
I've never even seen PC games sold in Japanese stores. They don't have a dedicated nationwide game store like Gamestop; most game stores are either mom & pop run, second hand stores, electronic stores, or video rental stores. Makes me wonder just how otaku you have to be to play PC-only games in Japan like Phantasy Star Online 2.

BifCarbet
April 25th, 2015, 16:14
I've never even seen PC games sold in Japanese stores. They don't have a dedicated nationwide game store like Gamestop; most game stores are either mom & pop run, second hand stores, electronic stores, or video rental stores. Makes me wonder just how otaku you have to be to play PC-only games in Japan like Phantasy Star Online 2.

Uh? GEOS? or GEO?

Sherlock
April 26th, 2015, 02:04
I have a basic question about Mac keyboards. I am a shortlisted ALT leaving for Japan in a few months. I want to get a Macbook Pro before or after I get there. Whick style keyboard should I get? English or Japanese? I want to be able to type in Japanese easily and don't mind adjusting to a new English keboard layout.

If you get the English keyboard how do you switch to typing in Japanese? Easy and quick?

I imagine getting the Japanese keyboard would be easier to switch to English than the reverse of switching an English keyboard to type in Japanese.

I know little about Macs and even less about typing in Japanese so any help is appreciated. I've been a lifetime Windows user but 8 is not to my liking and I finally can afford a Mac!

acpc2203
April 26th, 2015, 02:59
It is easy to type in Japanese on an English keyboard, you can just assign a shortcut and switch between English typing and Japanese pretty much instantly. I found Japanese keyboards to be a pain since they have a bunch of odd things switched around and have a small space bar.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 28th, 2015, 01:33
It is easy to type in Japanese on an English keyboard, you can just assign a shortcut and switch between English typing and Japanese pretty much instantly. I found Japanese keyboards to be a pain since they have a bunch of odd things switched around and have a small space bar.

Yeah, Japanese keyboards have a terrible design. Small space bar, tiny backspace button, and a bunch of old outdated buttons that you're never going to use. See here. (http://s7.postimg.org/i5fg1c1kr/SKB_KG3_BK_FM.png)

It seems that Japanese Macbooks do have a different keyboard layout, but this post referencing that is from 2012 (http://www.mac-forums.com/forums/apple-notebooks/263062-doubt-about-2-keys-japanese-layout-macbook-pro-keyboard.html) - I don't know if they've changed that for the newer models or not. But as you can see, they make the space button smaller for a quick English-to-Kana button, which is really ridiculous - I just have it hotkeyed to something like Cntl-Cmd-J and it switches between them flawlessly.

Since you can switch the language on a Mac fairly easily it doesn't really matter if you get it here or there. Know though that for large companies like Apple they tend to try to make their prices the same across the world. What will happen though is they'll stick with a nice round number, like 250,000yen (~$2k), but that would really come out to a bit more than $2k, so you'd want to do the conversion yourself. Also it's not guaranteed that you'll be in an area where you'll be able to easily purchase a Macbook. Personally I would get all expensive electronics here stateside and get them soon - that way if there's any issues that arise with it you can sort it out in English.

greyjoy
April 28th, 2015, 09:13
My work computer has the apostrophe as shift-2 or something, which is easily the worst thing to ever happen to me in life. The shortened space bar is awful too, but manageable.

On my personal windows machine that I bought in the states, I actually don't know how to switch to kana. I have Japanese language installed, and maybe a language bar, but it's disruptive so I think I hid it. I rarely type in Japanese anyway.

johnny
April 29th, 2015, 21:13
I agree that the English keyboards are much better. Most of your work will be done in English anyway.

Gizmotech
April 29th, 2015, 22:54
If you're good at typing it takes about two months to get the same type of memory typing on a Japanese keyboard as an English one and it is WAY more convenient for switching input modes because one button not two.

greyjoy
April 29th, 2015, 23:00
No that's wrong. There's no natural way to adjust to that awful apostrophe.

Ananasboat
April 30th, 2015, 06:57
For the record I had a Mac with a Japanese keyboard for 4 years and I liked it. The shift key was in a more sensible place, as was the caps lock button (as in, not right next to the a key) and switching was super easy. I also liked how the @ key didn't involve and spaces.

Now, when I'm at shisho using their ancient machine I can easily switch the layout in my muscle memory and continue on without a care.

johnny
April 30th, 2015, 07:59
Madness.

Jiggit
April 30th, 2015, 14:26
I prefer having a Japanese keyboard so much I just bought a mechanical one from Majestouch.

Lorenzo
May 2nd, 2015, 09:29
Without trying to sound like a complete imbecile, how does word-processing in Japan work? Does it form the kanji for you when you type in hiragana?

BifCarbet
May 2nd, 2015, 09:57
Without trying to sound like a complete imbecile, how does word-processing in Japan work? Does it form the kanji for you when you type in hiragana?

You type English letters to form Japanese kana, hit a key (usually the space bar) to change to kanji, and it gives you options from which you can select the right kanji. Why don't you get a head start by setting up your computer to do that now?

Ebi
May 2nd, 2015, 10:36
I also prefer a Japanese keyboard. I'm totally used to the apostrophe's placement now so I'll accidentally hit the wrong key when I switch back to using my laptop that I brought over from the US. The only thing I don't like is that I'll occasionally hit a key that switches to Japanese input (or visa versa) when I don't intend to and it takes me a while to correct it. I should probably just disable the ones at the bottom that I never use. I mostly just stick to the input key in the top left-corner and the "F#" keys that automatically turn things into katakana, half-width hiragana, etc.

Frap
May 2nd, 2015, 18:27
You type English letters to form Japanese kana, hit a key (usually the space bar) to change to kanji, and it gives you options from which you can select the right kanji. Why don't you get a head start by setting up your computer to do that now?

how2

Ebi
May 2nd, 2015, 21:38
how2

Here are the first two websites that popped up in Google with step-by-step directions:
How to Type Japanese - Installing IME (https://www.coscom.co.jp/learnjapanese801/install_ime.html)
Install Japanese - Windows 7 Windows Vista (http://www.yesjapan.com/video/pages/install-japanese-windows-7-vista.html)

I think there are other IME programs available, but I just use the Microsoft one which is described in those guides.

Frap
May 3rd, 2015, 00:09
ありがとう!

BifCarbet
May 3rd, 2015, 01:15
ありがとう!

Mission accomplished?

Frap
May 3rd, 2015, 01:57
Mission accomplished?

Yeah! It's very slick, I must say.

BifCarbet
July 30th, 2015, 18:28
I went to Docomo today.
I am going to get a 2GB data plan (1000 per extra 1GB, but I only went over 2 once in the last year) and a brand-new iphone 6 (64GB). I am giving them my iphone 5 (at an opportunity cost but it's so easy) for a 19,000 yen discount. With their "support" plan thing, the phone will cost me 90 yen per month for 24 months.
Total bill will be about 7500 a month, but I will basically have a free upgrade from iphone 5 to iphone 6.

weepinbell
July 31st, 2015, 07:32
I went to Docomo today.
I am going to get a 2GB data plan (1000 per extra 1GB, but I only went over 2 once in the last year) and a brand-new iphone 6 (64GB). I am giving them my iphone 5 (at an opportunity cost but it's so easy) for a 19,000 yen discount. With their "support" plan thing, the phone will cost me 90 yen per month for 24 months.
Total bill will be about 7500 a month, but I will basically have a free upgrade from iphone 5 to iphone 6.

wait is this your iphone from your home country or a japanese one? i already have a deal at softbank for exactly the same price without trading in, but i wonder if i could get it a bit lower if i trade in my old phone?

BifCarbet
July 31st, 2015, 07:36
I think they'll buy your phone. It's my phone from America. Docomo specifically does allow trade-ins of foreign unlocked phones.

Wasabi
July 31st, 2015, 11:21
Bif, I thought the same exact thing - in America, I rarely ever got close to 2 GB of data a month and thought the same would be fine here. Now I wish I had gone with a higher amount of data and just paid per minute for my phone calls instead of doing the ~¥7000 calling plan with the 2 GB data. Almost no one calls my actual phone number (less than once a month really), and everyone calls/texts me through Line. Also, because there is really no "free" wifi here, I tend to use more data. I never realized how much I took advantage of those free wifi hotspots in America.

Food for thought, yo'.

uthinkimlost?
July 31st, 2015, 11:44
I went to Docomo today.
I am going to get a 2GB data plan (1000 per extra 1GB, but I only went over 2 once in the last year) and a brand-new iphone 6 (64GB). I am giving them my iphone 5 (at an opportunity cost but it's so easy) for a 19,000 yen discount. With their "support" plan thing, the phone will cost me 90 yen per month for 24 months.
Total bill will be about 7500 a month, but I will basically have a free upgrade from iphone 5 to iphone 6.

To echo wasabi, 2 gb ain't shit here. Especially in inakaville. Skip the talk plan entirely.

Gizmotech
July 31st, 2015, 11:54
The only time I use the phone part of my phone is:
When delivery people call me asking me where the fuck I am
When school calls me and asks me where the fuck I am
when I get lost and need to ask people to get me whereever the fuck I am.

Otherwise it NEVER gets used.

Data on the other hand... WOOO BOY. Thank god I'm on the old 7GB + throttling plan because I sooo moved like 16GB through my phone last billing period.

Zolrak 22
July 31st, 2015, 13:02
Honestly speaking, how many people actually use their phone as a phone these days?

Beyond a specific number of contacts and the odd service call.

(And I mean anywhere, not just Japan)

ambrosse
July 31st, 2015, 14:52
When it's a cell phone, no one uses it for calling, it's all apps (Line, etc.). However, the phones in the office never.stop.ringing.
I'm surprised my small BoE receives as many calls as it does. It's like a call center in here!

BifCarbet
July 31st, 2015, 18:10
Bif, I thought the same exact thing - in America, I rarely ever got close to 2 GB of data a month and thought the same would be fine here. Now I wish I had gone with a higher amount of data and just paid per minute for my phone calls instead of doing the ~¥7000 calling plan with the 2 GB data. Almost no one calls my actual phone number (less than once a month really), and everyone calls/texts me through Line. Also, because there is really no "free" wifi here, I tend to use more data. I never realized how much I took advantage of those free wifi hotspots in America.

Food for thought, yo'.


To echo wasabi, 2 gb ain't shit here. Especially in inakaville. Skip the talk plan entirely.

Thanks for the input y'all. I am paying 2700 for unlimited voice (which is the ONLY option). If I want the 90yen/month iphone, I have to use this company. I haven't ever really used wifi spots to be honest, and I will have wifi at home. I'm a laptop guy. I hate watching videos and reading articles on my phone. I basically just use LINE, tinder, and sudoku, though I guess with all the matches I got in Tokyo, tinder alone could put me over the top. giggidy ;)
I am going to start with 2 gig, pay 1000 extra for an additional 1G if I need it, then if I start going over 3, I will switch to the 5G plan, which they said I could do.
I am just fired up about swtiching from iphone5 16G to iphone6 64G for 90yen/month.

weepinbell
August 1st, 2015, 09:09
I think they'll buy your phone. It's my phone from America. Docomo specifically does allow trade-ins of foreign unlocked phones.
Ahh damn my phone won't be unlocked til December and I'm doing Softbank anyway. Does Softbank have a similar data plan? I'm going to 2gb/unlimited talk right now for like 7500/mo but if I can do the higher data plan/per min calls for the same price I'd rather do that.

texxaport
August 1st, 2015, 12:22
Bif, does Docomo also take Androids for trade-in?

My current phone is a 5 year old HTC smartphone. I've been delaying an upgrade until I get to Japan. Even if they gave me 5000 for it, I'd be happy.

BifCarbet
August 2nd, 2015, 07:34
Bif, does Docomo also take Androids for trade-in?

My current phone is a 5 year old HTC smartphone. I've been delaying an upgrade until I get to Japan. Even if they gave me 5000 for it, I'd be happy.

Ly[ECxg : vO | NTThR (https://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/campaign_event/shitadori/03.html)

This is all I could find. These are Docomo Androids they accept. The only lists I saw that specifically said phones from overseas were for iPhones and iPads. I'm not sure if they take any other overseas items, but it might be worth a shot if you have one of the phones on this list.

Gizmotech
August 2nd, 2015, 10:17
Old andriods aren't of much value to them. Older iphone products are for some reason.

Zolrak 22
August 2nd, 2015, 11:28
Old andriods aren't of much value to them. Older iphone products are for some reason.
I would imagine it has to do with the IPhone having a set standard.

Androids have too many variations for them to have an accurate list of how much each is worth.

Ebi
August 2nd, 2015, 21:28
Old andriods aren't of much value to them. Older iphone products are for some reason.
I've heard that iPhones resell well in developing countries where most people can't afford new ones or perhaps there aren't any licensed venders. So maybe they ship them out for selling elsewhere?

There also seem to be a lot of shops that make good money refurbishing phones so I'm betting old phones might be good for parts.

But I honestly don't know if that's the case with Docomo.

johnny
August 3rd, 2015, 03:35
If I can't get my iphone unlocked, would my pred be able to use it? At the very least, would it have value as a trade in for him?

BifCarbet
August 3rd, 2015, 06:55
That used to be the case. I actually assumed the contract of my friend because He was leaving after his 3rd year, and I had just finished my second and was planning to stay one more. We split the 2-year contract and nobody had to pay cancellation. I also got my very first smartphone.

You may still be able to do it. If not the contract assignment, at least the phone pass should be fine.

Gizmotech
August 3rd, 2015, 06:56
trade in value? absolutely

useable, if they go with the same company you did. But it's a pain to set up the phone.

And your phone isn't getting unlocked.

johnny
August 3rd, 2015, 12:42
trade in value? absolutely

useable, if they go with the same company you did. But it's a pain to set up the phone.

And your phone isn't getting unlocked.

Thanks, I figured as much.

My apartment still smells a bit like cigarettes, so the least I can do is leave him with a few beers and the phone.


That used to be the case. I actually assumed the contract of my friend because He was leaving after his 3rd year, and I had just finished my second and was planning to stay one more. We split the 2-year contract and nobody had to pay cancellation. I also got my very first smartphone.

You may still be able to do it. If not the contract assignment, at least the phone pass should be fine.

Okay. I wonder if he'll be interested. It's an iPhone 5, but a basically new iPhone 5.

Fantasylife
August 3rd, 2015, 17:49
If I can't get my iphone unlocked, would my pred be able to use it? At the very least, would it have value as a trade in for him?

I wanted to use my predecessors phone but SoftBank claimed the phone was too old for them to find a SIM card for it, so I bought the chepeast android smartphone they had. It's a surprisingly good phone, albeit with a few quirks. I'm on a 2-year plan and hope my successor will want the phone. My mindset was originally to do two years here but yadda yadda yadda that's likely a no.

Zolrak 22
August 3rd, 2015, 18:14
My mindset was originally to do two years here but yadda yadda yadda that's likely a no.

Wait, why? [emoji53]

RyeBread
November 23rd, 2015, 10:45
If I want to use my unlocked iPhone 6S, can I? How much of a hassle will it be? Apparently, it works with all of the bands for LTE in Japan, and is much more internationally friendly than its predecessor..

Gizmotech
November 23rd, 2015, 11:32
If you can get signed up at a decent sized yodobashi camera or similar electronics store probably no problem (also assuming you have an international credit card).

In the sticks? Less like and more hassle. These will be with mvno providers, not the major carriers directly, so your coverage will vary.

weepinbell
November 24th, 2015, 08:49
Yeah, it really depends where you are. Someone here got a sim plan for their unlocked phone at a Docomo, no credit card needed at all. Softbank and au were no's. I'd try them first, especially if you're in a more urban area. But yeah, their service is 3G instead of 4G and they had to test it out a bit before Docomo would commit to make sure the phone was compatible. Wasn't too much of a pain though.

Pup
November 26th, 2015, 09:23
Hi mate,

My advice. Bring that thing to Japan with you and just ask a JET in your area who has a local iPhone if you can just stick their sim in your phone. It will ask you to update carrier information and then you cross your fingers and pray to sweet jesus.

I brought over my iPhone 5c and went straight into a new plan with an iPhone 6 after reading that my phone wouldn't have been compatible. One night while I was curling up in my kotatsu (it gets bloody cold up here in Aomori) I stuck my sim into my Australian iPhone 5 and voila it worked, calls, text, data. WTF.

So yes, just bring your phone over and ask someone to help you test it out.

Cheers.

Ini
November 26th, 2015, 09:31
dont most people update their phones every 1-2 years anyway? iphone 7 will be out in september 2016. just pick up a pay as you go burner phone for a month when you arrive and get a subsidized 7 when it comes out from one of the major Japanese carriers?

weepinbell
November 26th, 2015, 09:43
Yeah but 6S just came out, so I see why this person wouldn't wanna trash a new phone a year after getting it. I think it's arguably less stressful to get a 2-year sim plan and if you end up leaving before the contract is up you only owe like 1-2man in cancellation fees, versus paying off an entire phone on top of that that you prob can't even use at home.

I did the subsidized plan and I'm planning staying 2 years at least so I'm cool with it, but for people who don't know or are on the fence and already have a good unlocked phone from home, I say go for it.

Gizmotech
November 26th, 2015, 21:49
Ini, I totally agree with ya, but the new mvno plans that are available are quite a bit cheaper than the standard subsidized plans available from the incumbent carriers. Especially given they fuck you for some "calling plan" bs and other malarkey that you can't cancel without destroying your phone subsidy.

Also the mvno have the old packet hodai of 7gb with slow speeds unlike the new ones which is 5(or 8 with a shared plan) and then charge you by the gig.

Ini
November 26th, 2015, 22:02
I'm still suspicious of mvno's..... Docomo has the fact they are everywhere going for them, Au has the girls in the orange miniskirts, softbank has the robot from rocky 3 working in its stores. What does DMM have apart from suspicious looking handsets from dodgy Chinese manufacturers and the ability to earn points you can redeem against your next adult DVD purchase?

webstaa
November 27th, 2015, 08:25
Here's a year old google doc comparing MVNOs for the interested. (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wqAruhxarFMTcdttvyAUGU0-Php_LP8OOi80HU2A6os/pub?output=html)

Pup
November 27th, 2015, 09:54
One advantage to using a foreign Iphone 6s over a Japanese iPhone 7 or whatever could be the lack of compulsory shutter sound. Sure it sounds creepy but I assume at least half of us are not creepers while on the bus.

Frap
November 27th, 2015, 10:07
y u takin pics on the bus creep