|Japan Phone Information
Visitors to Japan are often struck by the vast number of people using cell phones. Not only are they talking on their cell phones but they are also reading emails, sending text messages, browsing the web, playing games and shopping. It seems like almost everyone, whether they are standing in line, in a bar or restaurant, in the subway or even walking down the street is looking at or talking into their cell phone. And why not? Japan had indisputably the best cellular service and cell phones in the world.
Japanese cell phones are more technologically advanced and versatile than their American or European counterparts and as a result, are utilized in aspects that most cellphone users in the Western Hemisphere would only expect in Sci-Fi movies. Not only are they super lightweight and capable of displaying full color images on their LCD screens, but many offer built-in cameras for sending on the fly snap shots or even videos to your friends. Also, while web commerce has not yet caught on in North America, Japan has simplified the process to the extent that all one has to do is surf to one of the many e-commerce stores that are readily accessible, push a few buttons and the item will arrive at the consumers pre-selected destination of choice. The phone company keeps track of purchases and simply adds them to customers' monthly bills. You can also download a wide array of games, can also check your e-mail, buy concert tickets and join an online dating service with your handset. Simplicity and a wide selection of products and services have helped account for making the mobile phone Japan's most popular way of accessing the Web. Oh yes - you can also make and receive phone calls.
As intimidating as the Japanese cell phone sounds, their user friendliness has made them the preferred mode of communication in Japan, with more subscribers of cellular phone services than on fixed analog landlines. In fact, not only will you find 85 year olds using cell phones but, due primarily to the prepaid options, you will also see pre-adolescents school children among the most feverish users. As there are no risks of running up unexpected high bills, and, since call credit is prepaid and even if you run out of credit, you will still be able to get incoming calls (since they are always free anyway), anyone can be entrusted with a cellphone. Prepaid phones are popular with everyone and are especially convenient for non-residents. This option is much less expensive than opting for a conventional cell phone rental for Japan.
Cellular coverage is exceptional and cellular "cells" cover nearly every square inch of urban Japan, including places guaranteed to be out of service in most other cities in the world including tunnels, underground malls and subways. Furthermore, Japan's cellular system's extensive capacity can handle even extraordinary amounts of traffic such as on Friday afternoon when people are getting that last business call in before the weekend or are making plans for that evening.
Japanese cell phone rates are quite moderate, especially if one considers the general cost of living in Japan. With prepaid phones, charges are app. $0.80 cents within Japan and while international rates vary, they are also very reasonable, for example, calls to the US drop down to just $0.45 during off peak hours. Since incoming calls are always free and it makes sense to have people call you back whenever possible. People calling from the US will spend just pennies if they use an international phone card.
Ironically, even though Japan is highly saturated with cell phones and there is such a wide array of phones to choose from, it is not an easy task to actually be able to obtain one, at least for a foreigner. Due to regulations, any phone purchased in Japan needs to be registered. To register a phone, you need to present proof of residency. This is true regardless if the service is contractual and billed monthly to a credit card or if it is prepaid. Luckily, Cellular Abroad offers pre paid phones for Japan with included airtime through their online web site and, no registration is required. This is a convenient service since not only are you able to know your phone number prior to going to Japan but you will be accessible virtually as soon as you get off the airplane.
Culturally, Japan relies heavily on cellular communication. In fact, it is unusual for an individual not to own cell phone. Besides very young children, only the few who cannot afford to have a cell phone are without one. Not only is a cell phone a necessity in terms of communication and convenience but it is also an object of status. Having one won't elevate your status since literally even most children have one, it's what not having one will say about you. To put this in perspective, it would be almost like walking around Tokyo with no shoes. Probably not the impression someone would want to convey, especially in image conscious Japan.
Japanese cell phones are inexpensive to use, have exceptional coverage and have impressively versatile capabilities. If you are planning a business trip or a vacation for more than just a few days, there is really no reason to not have a Japanese cell phone. Furthermore, you will get more than just a communication tool but also, you will be getting a taste of a device that has become a part of everyday Japanese life.