Mobile phone contracts in Japan are expensive!

When you are going to get a mobile phone contract in Japan you probably will be in for quite a surprise. Why? Well it’s pricy. At least when you walk into the next best mobile phone shop and want to set up a contract. But that is not what you should do anyways – more later.

I was used to paying about 10-15 Euros for my contract back in Germany with some free SMS, 1 GB Internet and a view included calls. In Japan though I had no other choice but to go for one of the main providers like NTT Docomo, Softbank or AU. Having been here before I knew already that none of those would accept the mobile phone I brought with me because it’s IMEI would not be registered in Japan. So I didn’t bother getting anything new before I headed here. I went the hard way, got an iPhone from Softbank and payed a fortune for it and the basic contract. Just to give you an example, apart from the phone itself, you have to pay at least 1000yen for the phone contract + 5000yen for unlimited internet (which is mandatory if you get an iPhone or equivalent smartphone) a month. And this doesn’t include any calls, and you are not allowed to tether and and and.

But be relieved, there is now a, no two other solutions!

New Providers are available!

Around 2013-2014 two new providers popped up with much more reasonable plans. One is B-mobile and the other is OCN Mobile One. Both of them use the same area network as NTT Docomo, so you will get a very good nation wide coverage. Whats more, you can use your own mobile phone you brought from your home country. Well there are a few things you have to consider, like 3G and LTE frequencies and off course that it is sim-unlocked, but apart from that, nearly all newer phones (especially iphones) will work in Japan.

About the available plans

Most of the plans those two providers are offering are basic data plans without a phone number, but since the end of 2013 they also offer the following plans with a call service:

B-mobile スマホ電話SIM フリーData

The basic fee is around 1560 yen a month but you will want to add at least 1 GB of high speed internet (340 yen). Otherwise you would be surfing with only 200kbps.

OCN Mobile 音声対応SIM

The basic fee is around 1600 a month for voice service + 110mb of high speed internet a day. Or you can get a similar plan with a 5gb/month option for around 2100 yen.

There might be other plans available by the time to read this post, so make sure to browse the websites and make sure you get the best offer!

What are the downsides?

Well, as you might already have noticed, all is in Japanese. As soon as you switch to English, the mentioned plans won’t be available any more. So you might want to get the help of a friend or Japanese colleague to get your contract set up. But considering the savings, its worth the hassle!

2nd downside is that those providers have no stores and you can order your sim-card or make changes to your contract only over the internet. (at least at the time when I wrote this entry)

But again, considering the savings, those are bearable downsides.

Good luck, and may the bargain with you!

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It’s been a long time since the last update on this page. A lot of things have happened, but not much has changed. Except that I am now married to the fiancé I meet in Japan 2 years ago J Now that things have settled down a bit in Japan we decided to pay her parents a visit and are currently staying in Furukawa again. Well if I say settled down you might jump to conclusions. What I mean is that there is no immediate thread either from big earthquakes, tsunamis or the nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

Earthquake March 2011

Here in Furukawa you can still see the results of the big earthquake on the 11th of march everywhere. Electricity masts are still a bit crooked, places where old buildings collapsed are empty, streets are still quite messy and have been only patched up and you can tell that the whole city has subsided about 20cm because most of the manhole covers are poking out of the ground. But nevertheless I’m impressed how everything returned back to a level that you can call normal. From now own everything will get better bit by bit.

Radiation in Furukawa

What is left are the worries about the troubled power plant in Fukushima. As far as I can tell Furukawa was not directly affected by the 3 hydrogen explosions (or at least that is what the government tells the Japanese it was), but the background radiation level has risen a bit. Normally the radiation level in Japan was lower than in Europe and about 0,05 to 0,1 mcSv/h, now the air radiation level is about the European level 0,1 to 0,2 mcSv/h, but varies from place to place. Measuring the radiation close to water drains my Geiger counter showed little but no significant difference, so either Furukawa has been spared from “black rain” or it has already been washed away.

Radiation in other places

What is more or less sure is that Fukushima city has been greatly affected by the accidents. Just by measuring the radiation from inside the Shinkansen (Bullet train) I can tell that the background radiation went up to 0,5 – 0,6 mcSv/h. Starting in Koriyama the radiation level went up to 0,4 mcSv/h rose further approaching Fukushima city and then went down as soon as leaving Fukushima prefecture.

Even though 0,6mcSv/h does not mean an immediate health thread (the background radiation on a plane is about 2,2mcSv/h) but being exposed to it for a few years in a row could raise the risk of cancer. Especially children are at risk. As told on television there are quite a view hotspots in Fukushima where the radiation level is up to 50 mcSv/h.

What is more frightening though is the fact that rice is grown in these regions as if everything is normal and that there are no compulsory radiation tests for food in Japan at the moment. The fact that radioactive meat nearly had made it to the market just recently proves that food and water can be a thread and will continue to be for the next years until compulsory test will prevent contaminated food to spread on the market.

Now, enough of these gloomy thoughts. Starting of today I will feed you with new photos again and keep you informed about the situation in Japan.

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my condolences to all the Japanese that lost their lives or relatives…

In memory to all the places I have visited during my time in Japan and have been affected by the Tsunami:

Read the rest of the entry »

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I finally got to update my page a bit. There are a few Wallpapers available for download in different resolutions at Pictures->Wallpaper. I hope that I’ll be able to upload some more soon!

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My second day-trip went to Kyoto. Of course with the same goal as in Nara… explore the traditional Japan, Temples and Shrines. In comparison to Nara, Kyoto’s Temples and Shrines are far spread so that you have walk quite a lot and take a few trains. I recommend a 3 day trip for Kyoto at least. I tried to explore the most famous places in 1 day and didn’t make it… so I went there a second time.
Since I went to Kyoto after Nara I was a bit disappointed. The Temples are huge and well taken care of, BUT since everything is so far spread and in the middle of town I didn’t get the same feeling that existed in Nara. Don’t get me wrong, there are some real nice places in Kyoto, but … I don’t know, maybe it was the location in Nara that was nicer.

Well nevertheless I took loads of photos … But as a friend already told me beforehand, “if you have seen 1 or 2 Temples, you have seen all of them”. And I guess he was right. They really look pretty much the same. At least there were a few exceptions… 🙂

And here the pictures of the second day:

Pictures of Osaka and Tokyo will follow soon…

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