Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Japanese Mobile

By now, you've probably figured out that I make things harder than they need to be.  You know, like how I spent my first year in Tokyo stumbling around lost or holed up at home because I was afraid of getting lost.  All this getting lost business had a lot to do with the fact that I didn't have a smartphone with a functioning map app.

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.
Roppongi Crossing
And that was okay for a year, but the day I found out I would be staying in Tokyo for a second year, I marched myself down to the SoftBank store at Roppongi Crossing in Minato-ku.

  • 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.

1 comment:

CP said...

Yay for phones! Look forward to hearing about more adventures!