Jun 30

Life in Japan: Technology

On Saturday, I spoke at a Q&A Panel for NEJETAA on technology in Japan. For an informal debriefing, I did aite, but I finished feeling like I could’ve done better.

I thought I’d do a recap here and add the stuff I forgot to mention originally. This info should be helpful for anyone who’s going to stay in Japan, not just JETs, so let me know in the comments what you think.

My street cred is living in the mountainside of Japan from 2009-12, so it’s very possible some of this is a teeny-tad outdated.

Cell Phones

The three major companies to choose from are:

Softbank was the first provider to carry the iPhone. Around the time I left, AU followed suit. But now, all three carriers have it. If you’re anti-Apple, there’s plenty of other smartphones to choose from, it’s just the iPhone plan usually ends up being the cheapest with the unlimited data plan.

For the first two years, I had a standard flip phone (picture above) with Docomo. Great reception– I was able to get service on mountains an on the subway, but the bill was around 6,000 yen compared to the iPhone unlimited plan of 4,400 yen with Softbank.

Most people go with Softbank not only because of the price, but Softbank is the company that allows “free” same carrier calls. So why didn’t I go with Softbank right off the bat? For one, I was deadset on getting a kewl Japanese phone. And two, I knew I wasn’t going to be calling anybody and didn’t really want people to be ringing me up either. That notion changed during my third year, which is why I switched.

Each cell carrier has a special “couples package” where you can put your +1 on a special plan with unlimited calls and data. Otherwise, I’ve known some Japanese people to get a cheap third party service phone for the sole purpose of contacting their boo (or hiding another).

The final comment I’ll make on cell phones is smartphones have changed everything. Japanese people still prefer to message instead of make a call, but instead of relying on SMS/MMS, they’ll just use an app. Most likely LINE.

Read the rest on my blog to learn about ATMs and Internet.

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