Cliodhna wrote:Another point is how Japanese cell phones are actually used. You do not make phone calls on your phone.
This is true for the most part. Also, communicating mainly by text takes the pressure out of translating what your Japanese friends are saying (either from Japanese or from "English").
Cliodhna wrote:When you receive your bill in the mail, all you have to do is go to your nearest convenience store (as long as it's listed as ok on the back of the bill- generally 711 is the place to go), and as you're shopping, put your bill on top of your items of purchase and the bill will be added as part of the price. You pay them (cash), they stamp your bill in two places, hand you back the stub, and you've paid your cell phone bill. Incidentally enough, you can also pay your utility bills in the exact same way. It's pretty nifty. Don't be afraid when you have to thumb out ¥30,000 on the counter for bills, though. It's normal, and you're not going to get mugged on your way out.
It's true that you can do this, but there is a small fee for paying this way (or there was 4 years ago, at least). I don't remember exactly what I did, but I know I paid at the combini only once. I know I paid a couple months up front, so that took care of part of the issue. I think you can go to one of your provider's stores and pay for free there? That being said, if you're inaka, it's probably easier to just pay the fee at Lawson's or whatever.
Side-note for the being mugged part: I'm not going to say that nothing will happen to you crime-wise in Japan, because there are definitely (rare) instances where people were attacked (I know I read an account of a near-rape on either the JET site or in the handbook), but you'll probably feel and be safer than you would be in America (I don't know about other home countries, but I assume it's similar).
During the orientation at my Japanese school, there was the following exchange with the exchange students coordinator:
Coordinator (asking a room full of Westerners): How many of you think Japan is the safest country in the world?
(almost everyone raises his or her hand)
Coordinator, shaking his head and completely serious: It may seem like it, but let me tell you something: We have a shoplifting problem.
(the room was full of stifled laughter)
Cliodhna wrote:I would not buy a phone from another jet, simply because you're going to want a new phone with your own email address...
Excellent point - I agree! You'll also want to see what your friends have before you decide on a phone or a provider, and shopping for a phone and seeing all the differences from your own country's phones is very fun.
Cliodhna wrote: After you cancel your contract, you keep your phone.
I think this can actually go either way. Cancelling my cell phone was one of the few financial-type things I did without a fluent Japanese speaker, a salesperson who spoke English, or a precise note from the (Japanese) exchange student coordinator along with me. The lady was very nice, but there was some miscommunication about whether or not I wanted to keep my phone, so she almost took it from me. I don't know if I would've gotten money back; I was frazzled enough trying to express that I wanted to keep it without trying to ask other questions.
And now I've said almost as much as Cliodhna did - oops!