Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tokyo How To's #3: Getting a Cellphone (J-Phone!)

Everybody knows the Japan is the nation of cellphones. The coolest and latest. You can watch TV, surf the web, send e-mails and stalk your friends. Every non-Japanese person yearns for these gorgeous phones. Believe it or not, it is NOT THAT EASY!

Short trips: Pick up a pre-paid cellphone at the Airport. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO FIND A PREPAID OUTSIDE OF THE AIRPORT.

Longer stays:

Let us start by stating that all cellphone companies require a 1 year contract at minimum. If you are staying less, you are subject to cancellation costs. The longer you keep it the less it will cost to cancel.

Many of these phones will NOT work abroad, unless unlocked(which is a pain in the butt). Many of the nifty features will not work also. So you will be left with a extremely pretty phone. I emphasize that it is JUST a phone, outside of the states. So make consider that when buying a phone.

Important info worth knowing:

You will also be unpleasantly surprised that Cellphone minutes are outrageously expensive compared to the states. The plans also have absurdly few minutes. So get use to talking like an auctioneer.

They have SMS, it is called c-mail. However, very few people use it. E-mail is the most popular form of communication. DO BUY a e-mail plan. Keep in mind that because of bad communication, they will tell you that its 1000yen for 10,000 e-mails. That is a lie. It is up too 10,000,and your e-mail fee can be as high as 3500. It only starts at 1000yen...

Also, you should also know that minutes are only incurred onto the caller. It cost you nothing to receive calls. I also believe that messages consume you minutes only for the length of the message, so checking it over and and over again makes no difference.

Lets do a brief overview of the main Japanese carriers:


This was my carrier. They have one of the better student discount plans, more minutes for a about 40% less.

*Free train schedule checker, weather, and news (EZweb)


They have, in my opinion, a better phone selection. Will be the new carriers of Iphones. They also carry more phones that can be used over seas(If unlocked)

* Unlimited calls with other Softbank users, good if you have friends with Softbank.


I don't know too much information about the, beside them being one of the oldest carriers in Japan. They carry many of the the typical looking J-phones.

* many different types of discounts


They are one of the newer carriers within the last year. There phone selection is mostly that of the PDA Smartphone and portable internet type devices. Don't know too much

*best for internet at your fingertips
*many Flat rate plans.

EM Mobile

The newest carrier. Not to much information. They have a VERY small selection, and carry mostly portable internet type devices. They carry the best models in their class. Sells Internet PC-cards.