You have free Internet access at school for a limited time. You’ll receive more information during the orientation.
Phone lines are identical to those in the U.S., so a standard (U.S.) PCMCIA modem will work. The dial tone may be different, though. Some U.S. modems do not recognize the Japanese dial tone. Simply disable dial tone detection, and you should be able to connect.
The advantages to email are obvious—it’s efficient, fast, cheap, easy, and spans time zones nicely. But do keep in mind that you are going abroad to immerse yourself in a new culture. Daily emailing with people back home can hinder your adjustment process. Of course, email is still an option for occasional or important communications.
Post boxes have two slots. The slot with the red sign is for domestic mail, and the one with the blue sign is for all other mail, including international mail. Regular airmail between Japan and the U.S. usually takes about a week to deliver.
|Post card||any international location||¥70|
|Aerogram or letter (<10 grams)||other Asian countries||¥90|
|Aerogram or letter (<10 grams)||North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe||¥110|
|Aerogram or letter (<10 grams)||Africa, South America||¥130|
The phone number for the postal mailing service is 0120-085420 (English, toll-free). It is open weekdays, 8:30 to 18:00. JapanPost, English-language.
The Japanese pay telephone system can be confusing at first. It costs ¥8.5 per 3 minutes for local calls when calling from a private line. International calls are considerably more expensive. Fortunately, there are many other alternatives.
Pre-paid telephone cards may be more convenient than coins, and you can use them at most public telephones. They can be purchased in ¥500 and ¥1,000 units. To use the telephone, simply pick up the receiver and insert coins or your telephone card, then key in the number.
Making calls within Japan
Japanese telephone numbers consist of an area code, a local code, and the number. You do not have to dial the area code when making a call within the area from which you are calling.
|7752||actual phone number|
Making calls to the U.S. or Canada from Japan
You can make international telephone calls from gray public telephones with “international” signs. You can also use silver telephones for international calls, but many will not accept telephone cards. To make an international call, dial the international operator, international prefix, country code, area code, and number.
|010||U.S./Canada country code|
|1-360-555-1212||actual phone number|
Making calls from the U.S. or Canada to Japan
When dialing a Japanese telephone or fax number from outside Japan, you must dial the international operator (011), then the country code, area code, and number. The Japanese country code is 81, so a Japanese phone number called from the U.S. becomes 011-81-3-3235-1107. The U.S. and Canadian country code is 1.
Phone companies and charges
KDDI is the largest international telephone company in Japan. Here are some handy KDDI numbers:
|International direct dial||001|
KDDI offers pre-paid telephone cards in ¥1,000, ¥3,000, and ¥5,000 units. These cards are more convenient when making long international calls. The KDDI Super World Card can be used from any public or home push-button telephone in Japan. These cards are available at most convenience stores in Tokyo. Unlike other pre-paid telephone cards, you do not insert the KDDI Super World Card into public telephones. To use, you dial 0055, read off the ID number on your card, then enter the number you are calling. Ask your student coordinator for more information.
IDC customer service can be reached at toll-free 0120-03-0061. The international direct-dial prefix is 0061.
There is a charge for both local calls and long distance calls. Homestay students should use a pay telephone, cell phone, or calling card so that host families are not charged for calls. Please respect your host family by making extended calls from a public phone or a cell phone.
Tokyo has English-language directory assistance available Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 20:00. The number is 03-3201-1010, x.104. Ask for English service by saying, “Eigo de onegai shimasu.”
It’s a better deal to buy prepaid international calling cards in the U.S., and we encourage this so you don’t have to set this money aside from your budget in Japan. If you do buy calling cards in the U.S., make sure you find out about the cost of international calls. MCI Worldcom and many other U.S. long distance carriers offer such calling cards. Check around for the best deals.
If you bring a calling card from the U.S., please remember to bring the Japanese access code. You will need this in order to make a call.
At this time, these are the access codes for Sprint and MCI:
|MCI||005 39 121 (KDDI), 0066 55 121 (IDC)|
Prepaid telephone cards are available in Japan and can be purchased at most major convenience stores. MCI cards are available at 7-11 stores; KDDI cards are available from Lawson, 7-11, and am.pm stores.
There are more cell phones in Japan than land lines. Many students find that the convenience of a cell phone is more important than the additional cost. In order to establish an account, you must have a long term visa, your passport, be at least 20 years old, and have a major credit card in your name. If you are under 20, you must have your parents’ written, signed approval. Do be sure to include the activation and cancellation fees (about ¥3000 for both) in your budget. You’ll get more information during orientation.
You may also purchase a phone with a prepaid plan. These prepaid cell phones are available without a student or long term visa. Ask your student coordinator for more information.
Calling collect from a cell phone is very expensive. For example, through KDDI it’s almost $25 for the first 3 minutes. There is no charge to receive calls on your cell phone.
Cell phones offer distinct advantages: (1) in Japan, there is no charge to receive calls; and (2) you can take photos with the phone’s camera and email them to family and friends (with a USB port).