- On this show, Anthony talks about the new iPhone 4S and the big news that KDDI is now offering the iPhone. This breaks the long-held monopoly of SoftBank to sell iPhones which should mean better prices for consumers.
- He also checked out a Thai-Japanese festival and comments on the good relationship between Thailand and Japan as well as the abundance of food.
- Lastly, he also gives updates on his housing situation with some tips on buying furniture.
iPhone 4S Coming to Japan
The big news in Tokyo is the release of the iPhone that was unfortunately overshadowed by the death of Steve Jobs. Anthony went to a SoftBank store to figure out what documents are needed to get the iPhone 4S. As with anything in Japan, one needs a lot of documentation to do anything. Japan still follows the antiquated system of locking the phone to the carrier. A lot of phones sold in Japan are sim locked while most of the rest of the world sell them unlocked.
Japanese mobile technology can be years ahead and years behind at the same time.
When he arrived, there was a long line of people waiting to pre-order the iPhone. Luckily, he found a cute Japanese girl who spoke excellent English and walked him through the whole procedure, saving him from spending an hour in line. He found out that some of the documents he needed were the following: an alien registration card, his passport, a credit card, a health insurance card, and so on. One’s visa type will also determine whether you can buy the phone or not. In Japan, many phones are subsidized by the carrier. You can get the iPhone 4S with 16 GB for free if you subsidize the payment for 24 months or 2 years. If your visa is less than 2 years, they may not give you the option of subsidizing the phone. If you don’t want to subsidize it, you can purchase the phone outright while the monthly payments for the carrier’s services are charged at a lower price. However, the phone is still sim locked to Japan. Even last year when the iPad was released, there was confusion about whether it would be sim locked or not. Steve Jobs clarified that it would not be but SoftBank’s website indicated that it was.
But the major news in the Japanese phone industry is that another carrier called the KDDI will now also release the iPhone. Previously, the only company that had the iPhone was SoftBank. Unfortunately, SoftBank does not have good reception across Japan. So many people are very excited to get an iPhone and use it in a better network. The pricing for the iPhone can also become competitive. Both companies are now aggressively wooing customers and that is good for Japanese consumers. To help figure out the Japanese mobile market, the show will have a special guest who will discuss all aspects of mobile and telephone service in Japan.
Tourism Offers in Japan
Another interesting news is that the Japan Tourism Agency has come up with a plan to boost tourism. After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, tourism in Japan suffered and companies have tried to boost it. Japan is not an easy tourist destination for several reasons. It may be hard to go to given that you have to fly in to get to Japan. While the Japanese are certainly helpful and polite, there are very few English used and spoken in the country. Japan is also a country built 100% for the Japanese. There are very little information and services for foreigners. Japan also needs to work on making tourist infrastructure and services more available.
Still, Japan is an interesting country that has the potential to make people come to visit. Its culture is so different from the world and there is more to it than just the anime, temples and sushi that people usually associate it. Each prefecture is unique, especially when it comes to food. Before Anthony moved to Japan, he asked his Japanese friends in Bangkok which areas they recommend living in. Instead of telling him about an area’s infrastructure, transportation, housing and generally what it’s like to live in Japan, they would talk about the food. Aside from the usual places such as Tokyo or Kyoto where many temples are located, one should try the rail pass which allows tourists to visit other places all over Japan. You can only buy it outside of Japan and it is similar to the rail pass in Europe.
Another upcoming offer of the tourism agency is for 10,000 bloggers who can boost tourism here. They want 10,000 people with good writing and photography skills to come to Japan for free. They will pay for the airfare while they write about their positive travel experiences and thus encourage more people to come to Japan.
Enjoying a Thai Festival in Tokyo
Last weekend, there was also a Thai festival at the famous Yasukuni shrine. Dozens of booths were set up on the big stage as well as demos of Thai sports and dance. Many of these booths were on different kinds of Thai food. It was interesting to see everyone was lined up neat and orderly for all the food, something you would never actually see in Thailand. Some of the most popular Thai foods among the Japanese were the desserts. Fruit drinks like rambutan, dragon fruit, mango, and many others were available. But the durian did not appear to be a popular choice. Japanese people seem to enjoy sampling foods from other countries and seeing other cultures. There is another festival to be held next April. The food may not be the same as the ones in Bangkok but it is still a lot of fun as any Thai festival.
Quick Update on Housing
Most of the time, an apartment in Japan comes unfurnished. So where do you find furniture and how do you furnish it? Anthony found 2 good sources of furniture. First is the website Craigslist, where many people leaving Japan can be desperate to get rid of their stuff because they don’t want to pay a lot just to get rid of it. In Japan, there are very costly fees when disposing of appliances. Thus, there are many sayonara or goodbye sales on this website. You can even get some items for free. Still, one has to pay for movers to come to pick it up from one place and transfer it to another place. But since some sellers give items for free, it is still a good deal.
Sometimes, this may be more expensive than purchasing brand new items from a store. There are many stores such as the well-known furniture store Nitori offering discounts and free delivery service for large items. There are also good second-hand stores in Tokyo. Many of these items have very good quality and condition. With a Japanese license and a car, one can just pick it up and pay no shipping at all. Shipping range at ¥8,000 – ¥10, 000 or $100 – $120. Thus, it pays to shop around first.