Communications

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TRAVEL TIPS

Communications

Internet

Except for some traditional ryokan and minshiku, nearly all hotels have high-speed Internet access. Wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) is increasingly available for free at coffee shops and in hotel lobbies across the country, however there are still a number of hotels that do not offer in-room Wi-Fi. There are Internet cafés in many cities, but they tend to be dark, cavelike halls focused more on manga (comic book) and computer games than checking email. Although free Wi-Fi is not as widespread as in the United States, there are some free services that allow tourists to access a number of hot spots around the country. Two of the most useful are Travel Japan Wi-Fi (throughout Japan) and Free Wi-Fi Japan (mostly Tokyo and the surrounding tourist sites).

Contacts

Free Wi-Fi Japan. Access to many hot spots in Tokyo and surrounding areas. Requires getting a free password and login online or at a tourist center. flets.com/freewifi/index.html.

PuPuRu Mobile Phone Rental. Pocket Wi-Fi routers reserved online before your trip can be picked up at the airport and returned by post before you leave Japan. Rates range from ¥400 to ¥1,000 per day depending on device. www.pupuru.com/en.

Travel Japan Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi access at up to 200,000 hot spots throughout Japan using iOS or Android devices. Requires online registration. wi2.co.jp/tjw/english.html.

Phones

The country code for Japan is 81. When dialing a Japanese number from outside Japan, drop the initial "0" from the local area code. The country code for the United States is 1.

Calling Within Japan

Public telephones are a dying species in cell-phone-happy Japan. But there are sometimes public telephones near convenience stores, train and bus stations, and, of course, in hotel lobbies. Phones accept ¥100 coins as well as prepaid telephone cards. Domestic long-distance rates are reduced as much as 50% after 9 pm (40% after 7 pm). Telephone cards, sold in vending machines, hotels, and a variety of stores, are tremendously convenient.

Operator assistance at 104 is in Japanese only. Weekdays 9–5 (except national holidays) English-speaking operators can help you at the toll-free NTT Information Customer Service Centre.

Contacts

Directory Assistance. 104.

NTT Information Customer Service Centre. 0120/36-4463.

Calling Outside Japan

With pay phones that can be used for international calls becoming more of a rarity, and high rates calling from hotels, the best way to call abroad is to use an Internet-based service like Skype or Google Voice. There are still a few telephone cards that can be used to call out of Japan such as the KDDI Super World Card. Each card has different access codes so follow the included instructions. Major U.S. cellular carriers also offer international voice and data plans. Check with your carrier for details.

Japan has several telephone companies for international calls, so make a note of all the possible access code numbers to use to connect to your U.S. server before departure.

Access Codes

AT&T Direct. www.att.com/esupport/traveler.jsp.

MCI WorldPhone. 800/955--0925; consumer.mci.com/international/english/resources/accessnos.jsp.

Sprint International Access. 800/866--7509; shop.sprint.com/mysprint/services_solutions/index.jsp#!/.

Calling Cards

Telephone cards for ¥1,000 can be bought at station kiosks or convenience stores and can be used in virtually all public telephones. For international calls, look for phones that accept KDDI prepaid cards valued between ¥1,000 and ¥7,000. Cards are available from convenience stores.

Mobile Phones

Japan is the world leader in mobile-phone technology, but overseas visitors cannot easily use their handsets in Japan because it is a non-GSM country. It's best to rent a phone from one of the many outlets at Narita, Kansai, and Nagoya airports. Softbank sells SIM cards so you can use your own number in Japan. Most company rental rates start at ¥525 a day.

Contacts

JALABC Rental Phone. www.jalabc.com/english/index3.html.

Softbank. www.softbank-rental.jp.

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