Gizmo's advice is pretty solid, but i have a few things to add.
Gizmotech wrote:Stuffs I wrote
this is not the only way to do this. all of the JETs in my city (i was the only one who went with a Japanese Android rather than iPhone) were able to get their iPhones on two year contracts with Softbank without paying upfront. the process is the same as what you detailed more or less, except we actually did go to Softbank, and took care of all of that there. the problem is that Softbank stores themselves seem to be very ESID. i've heard from friends that already had their phones/contracts taken care of for a while run into minor phone problems, but were told different things by different Softbank shops in my city. so you should
be totally able to get your iPhone on contract with monthly payments towards the phone, but it largely depends on whether the staff at that particular store know what they're doing.
Were your JETs signing up for automatic withdrawal via cash card or credit card? If not I would REALLY like to hear how they were signing up. My comments were based around the fact that most JETs out in my area of inaka had to wait at least a week before getting a cash card whereas my stuff was all done on the first day.
teabot wrote:in my case my CC just wtf'd at a charge from Japan (despite the fact that i had called to advise them of my international move), and so i got a letter from Softbank about the failed payment including the handy-dandy automatic withdrawal postcard and just had my person-who-assists-supervisor-with-ALT-miscellany fill it out for me.
my phone was taken care of not on the first day but on the second or third day or so, though i do live in a city, and i did have to wait on the bank card for a week or so. (i got the bank book the day i opened the account, though i had to wait for my hanko to be finished in order to open the bank account.)
Yes, the Japanese are quite forgiving at the the idea of rejected payments. So long as you get a payment in in a reasonable amount of time, automatic withdrawals that bounce aren't a problem to them. This seems to happen a lot with cash auto-withdrawals as they are setup for damn near everything.
eacat wrote:I have a quick question. I have an old pay as you go phone from Vodafone from the time I spent abroad. It's been five years. Would I be able to use this (i.e. is the number still mine) once I put money on it? Or is this handset worthless now?
You -might- be able to revive it, but I don't think it is likely..... it's also not what you want to do.
Most ALTs I know use their cell as their primary form of contact with other ALTs as well as with coworkers. You need a reliable phone -- pay as you go does not give you that. I would very firmly suggest signing up for a contract phone here. [...] Even so, a pay as you go phone, is not going to be a good idea when you think about the fact that your coworkers, friends, or principals might call you about something important at a time when you are running low on your pre-paid minutes.
This. If you're at a single base school it's not that big of a deal, but when you get stuck on the travelling circus routine going to many different places it is MUCH handier to have a handset that you know won't have a problem due to "insufficient funds".
syrius wrote:As to smart phone v. regular phone --- it doesn't much matter. I went with a smart phone, because I knew I wanted to be able to install some apps on it, as well as to be able to use the internet, google maps, and email (not the phone one, my pc one) on it. That, and that a regular phone was only about $150 less than an iphone. The smartphone monthly payments are only 2000 yen more per month than the basic ones... so I only pay about 4000 yen per month for unlimited data, as well as phone calls during the day. Nights and weekend calls cost some small fee, but it hasn't ever exceeded 1000 yen total per month in extra costs.
I will say that it's extremely useful when you first get to your placement (Especially if you're inaka and need a car) to be able to send and receive pins on maps from the other ALTs in the area of important places you might need to go (BoE, City Hall, Supermarket, places to eat, friends apartments, etc) and that is something that the regular phones will not do.
Unless you're coming over to live in destitute poverty (ie bringing a deadbeat significant other along for the ride) you should have enough money/month to afford the smart phone. The extra 2-3k for it is worth it in having access to a portable map alone, and if you haven't been to Japan before the country is the worst place in the entire world to navigate... even with a map. All the other stuff is a plus for sure, but the map alone saves lives.
tashikanakoto wrote: Just curious, do you have Softbank? Is Softbank the only carrier in Japan with the iPhone?
Softbank is not the only carrier anymore to have the iPhone. I know AU has it, and not sure about Docomo. Though no carrier in Japan will unlock an iPhone so if you get one here, don't expect to be able to bring it back when you're done. Don't worry about carriers yet, figure out what has the BEST reception in your area (you might not have a choice).