Trying to find a Tokyo location by address is pretty rough without GPS. Don't believe me?
Tokyo has a very old and chaotic street-numbering system. Generations ago, the first building in a neighborhood was numbered 1. The second, now perhaps blocks away, was numbered 2. And so on.And this, friends, is why even the cab drivers get lost from time to time.
But I still had so many excuses for not springing for a phone:
- I'd probably need to bring along a translator to complete the transaction;
- The upfront cost would be too much considering that I would only be in Japan for one year;
- I wouldn't be able to read my bill; and
- I'd get better at navigating Tokyo over time.
- Good news --> they've got English speaking staff. (Minato-ku is full of expats.)
- Great news --> you can sign up for automatic payments and don't have to deal with trying to read a Japanese bill.
- Better news --> my monthly bill (including unlimited data) is half what it was in the US.
(In fairness, I think my monthly bill is low because I paid for my iPhone up front. If you want to pay for the cost of your iPhone in installments you will need a visa with at least 25 months left until its expiration. My three-year visa had less than 25 months remaining so I couldn't take advantage of this option.)
Having a smartphone has really improved my quality of life in Tokyo. I get lost far less often and I have a phone full of apps that help make navigating a foreign country and language a little bit easier. Money well spent.