Communicating

Internet Access

Students can access computers at KCP 2F library and the entire building has Wi-Fi. You can get the Wi-Fi password at KCP 1F counter. 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.

Data SIM card

In case your cell phone is NOT SIM-locked (can install any other company’s SIM card) and can make monthly payment pay by credit card, you have a choice to use a “data SIM card” that you can purchase at major electronic stores in Japan.

These data sim cards are usually for Internet use only, but there are types where you can use both Internet and phone, or Internet and SMS.

How much you pay per month will depend on what kind of data plan you buy, it is usually a fixed amount for each month for both data and cost.

One of the cheapest plans costs 480 yen per month for 250kb slowest Internet use (non-limit use). If it is just for e-mails and texting perhaps this is good enough.

There are so many kinds for these data sim cards (including size such as regular, micro, nano), it would perhaps be better for you to look them up in shops upon your arrival. Unlimited convenience use types are usually expensive, cheaper ones often have a monthly maximum data limit and after you use it up the connection will be limited such as you can only use 250kb until next month etc.

http://service.ocn.ne.jp/mobile/one/data/

Just as example, some past students used a data SIM card, and were able to use a Skype phone or other phone applications where you can get a Japanese phone number to call through Internet connection. That way they could also have the phone number only with the data SIM card.

Although the internet data only type can be purchased in shops, register online at home and you could start using on the same day. Take note that a data SIM card combined with regular phone service from the start (includes phone number) may need several days for the provider to deliver one to you after you pay for it at the shop. Most students seems to be okay with the Internet data only type when they choose to buy these third party sim card here.

Prepaid Phone

The other way would be for you to buy a prepaid cell phone in Japan. You may find it in the airport, too. A company called Softbank is the only company that sells prepaid phones in Japan.

Price differs depending on the shops you buy the set at. In general the set costs about 10,000 yen for a phone, charger, and some initial money charge on it for calls.

This is not a smart phone, so what you could do with this is limited. Calling costs you by using the charge, and you can reload by buying prepaid cards (standard one is 3000 yen charging card) at Softbank shops or major convenience stores. Using the texting feature will require buying a monthly SMS service (300 yen per month).

The good thing is that receiving calls, no matter if it is domestic or international, is free of charge. This website has more details about the prepaid phone: http://www.softbank.jp/en/mobile/service/prepaid/

Rental Service

You may see rental SIM services at the airport, but students seldom use them since this SIM service would be good only for those who stay here for a very short period, their basic cost is expensive for regular stay.

On the other hand, some people arrange rental Wi-Fi, compared to standard regular long term Wi-Fi contract that we make in Japan. The monthly cost of these rental ones is usually more expensive, but viable for those who do not have SIM unlocked phones and still want to use Internet all the time. If you want to rent, make arrangements in advance so that you could have the company send the Wi-Fi transmitter to your Japanese address or the school address.  TIP: these rental Wi-Fi services are different depending which company you select, and some of them have a system which is not “unlimited use” but has a set maximum data. After you use it up, it changes into the slowest connection like 250kb so please check the data plan when you make these rental contracts.

Related info:

Rental SIM card (as explained above students seldom use them)
http://www.softbank-rental.jp/e/

Rental Wifi
http://xn--wifi-to4c4jf0dx581eulzardqiqo.com/kokunai.html

Except for the Softbank prepaid phone above, there are cases that your contract has a system that they charge you extra when you use the service over-the limit per month. If you wish to make any contract for data card or wifi better make sure if it is unlimited or at least monthly fixed price so that you won’t be charged more later for using it too much.

Phones

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.

03-3356-7752

03 area code
3356 local code
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.

001-010-1-360-555-1212

001 international operator
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.

Post Office

Post offices are designated by a symbol that resembles a red T with a bar across the top.

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.

Item Destination Cost
Post card any international location ¥70
Aerogram or letter 
(<25 grams) other Asian countries ¥90
Aerogram or letter 
(<25 grams) North America, Australia, 
New Zealand, Europe ¥110
Aerogram or letter 
(<25 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.