Ask anyone who expats to Japan what the biggest, most immediate hurdles are, and you’ll likely to get these answers: Getting an apartment, learning the language, dealing with culture shock, and finding wifi.
One of the most important things you learn as an expat who doesn’t know the language is patience. Even with English-speaking staff at the mobile phone store, it still took three hours to get my phone, and three weeks to get my home internet hooked up—even longer still to figure out the WiFi.
If you arrive and hit the ground running at work, you have to call English customer support during certain business hours, (which are limited) and hooking everything up via translation over the phone can take a looong time. I didn’t have WiFi for months simply because I couldn’t make the time to call, be on hold, and do the set up over the phone. I don’t mean to complain—if I spoke Japanese it wouldn’t be a big deal, right? Right. It’s not you Japan, it’s me. I know.
The other option is to get pocket WiFi, those baby router thingies you carry with you to get the internets anywhere. It’s surprisingly fast and usually super affordable (my Japanese and Western friends use it and the average cost has been around 4500 yen a month—not bad.) Download the Skype app, buy a number and BOOM—you’re pretty much set. But… just like standard cell phone service, the pocket WiFi people ask the Dreaded Question you simply cannot answer. They ask the Dreaded Question because with the big carriers, getting set up usually means a minimum two-year contract, which requires a two-year visa.
The Dreaded Question is: How long will you live in Japan?
How the heck do I know? A year? Three years? Six months? I just got here, I don’t know where I’m at right now, nor do I know what I just ate for lunch. Please just give me my internets so I can go home and watch Downton Abbey in my underwear.
If you’re planning on being here less than two years, or maybe you’re just terrified of commitment (you don’t own me, Softbank!), you should look at Let’s Internet. It’s a monthly pocket WiFi service for 4 to 12 months (or more!). This means no two-year visa requirement, no two-year contract, and it’s 4250 yen a month. They’ll even deal with the paperwork and deliver the router to you—even AT THE AIRPORT, so you have interwebs access as soon as you touch down.
Learn from my obscene cell phone bills and general newbie ignorance. Check out their English website and sign up online here.
Let’s Internet jp LLC
Hours: 10:00 – 17:30