Buying a ComputerEdit
Up until recently, buying a computer in Japan meant that you had to have a reasonable grasp of Japanese to be able to use it. Technology has crossed the language divide and now buying a computer here is no longer a problem. Now most operating systems are fully bi-lingual; the Mac operating system (OS X) can be switched between Japanese and English at the push of a button. All new Windows systems are now released with “Windows 7” and this can also be switched to operate in either English or in Japanese by downloading a language pack from Microsoft’s site.
What all this means is that no matter what system you buy, there shouldn’t be any language problems. But if you’re unsure, get the guy in the shop to show you how to change your OS.
Where can I buy a computer?Edit
There are numerous websites offering good deals on computers, and this is by far the cheapest way to buy a computer.
If you are uncomfortable of online purchases and want to see and touch a product before you buy it, keep reading, as there plenty of retail shops to choose from in the Kansai Area.
Mercantile Computers is one of the best places to buy a computer in Kansai. They offer some of the best deals around, and stock a lot of computers with English only operating systems and English keyboards. They can split your hard drive into both English and Japanese operating systems, and install a boot switcher which allows you to choose between which operating system you want when you boot up. A boot switcher allows installation of both English and Japanese software. They offer support services and also do repairs on almost all makes and models. You can save on shipping costs by picking the computer up yourself.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: mcljapan.com
Hours: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm, M-F, 2nd & 4th Saturday of the month
CLOSED: 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, Sunday, National Holidays
8F Maya Bldg No.1, 1-2-7
Minami Honmachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
The Apple Store - Shinsaibashi (心斎橋)Edit
Hours: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, daily
Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-Fu
3 minute walk from exit No. 7 of the Shinsaibashi subway station
Toshiba Direct PCEdit
This is a direct order company, which offers a variety of English only systems. Toshiba has service centers all around the world, which makes Toshiba a very attractive option for those you who plan on moving around after JET.
Department Stores & Specialty ShopsEdit
If you want to go cheap department stores and electronic shops are probably your best bet. They usually have really good deals around Christmas. Check out Den Den Town (デンデンタウン), an electronics shopping area packed with 200+ specialty shops, all competing to offer the lowest prices, as well as Yodobashi Camera (ヨドバシカメラ), a multi-story electronics and camera shop with a huge selection, knowledgeable staff, and a cool point card system. Den Den Town is a two minute walk from Nihonbashi Station (日本橋) on the Sennichimae subway line. Yodobashi Camera is just across the street from JR Osaka and Hankyu Umeda stations. Take a bilingual Japanese friend with you for best results.
Locally, Joshin electronic store chains can be found throughout Wakayama prefecture and is one of the best places to get a general computer or laptop. Ask other JETs or your supervisor where the closest branch is to you.
Building Your Own PCEdit
If you or a tech savy friend can assemble a computer, this is a very good way to get exactly what you want at a good price. There are two primary ways to acquire the parts: buy them from a store (there are MANY in Den Den Town) or via the Internet.
One good store for buying parts is the Sofmap Gigastore in Den Den Town (Google Maps). Take the subway to Nihonbashi station and go out exit 10. Turn left and walk up the street until you reach a small Yoshinoya. At that intersection turn right, cross the street, and walk just a little bit (not even a block) and you should see the store. They have a large selection of just about every PC part you could imagine. When you buy your parts you can have them shipped (for a fee) back to your place to save the trouble of carrying it all home. You might be able to get by with English, but it's best to have basic Japanese abilities or take a bilingual friend.
If you are going to shop for parts via the Internet then check out Kakaku.com. They are basically a product search engine that lets you look at the prices for a single item across many different Internet stores in Japan. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to buy the majority of your parts from a single online store in order to reduce shipping costs and simplify your transaction, consider browsing through PrimePC and Faith Go. One advantage of PrimePC is that they offer their website in English. It's probably best to have a Japanese-speaking/reading friend/co-worker help you out with Kakaku and Faith Go if your Japanese isn't up to the task.
One thing to note is that buying English Operating Systems (like English Windows) and English keyboards (i.e., English layout) can be a little difficult as stores do not usually stock them. The Internet might be best for acquiring these parts.
There are four main types of Internet Connections in Japan: Fiber-Optic “Hikari”, ADSL, and Dial-Up. Most of the tech support in Japan is Japanese only, so you will most likely need someone to help you acquire what you want. But this will give you an idea of what options you have, and what you need to consider. All lines are provided by NTT, but your ISP will vary. For those that care: just like home some ISPs offer awesome service others not so awesome due to packet sniffing etc....
This extremely high speed fiber-optic internet connection is often called “Hikari” here in Japan. The connection speeds will blow your mind - it is somewhere around 100mbps! You can even get a TV or movie pack and watch TV and movies streaming at DVD quality. Obviously this is also the most expensive connection available but it isn’t too much more than ADSL. You don’t even need a phone line as the fiber-optic cable will be installed into your apartment or home.
High speed Internet. ADSL is the most common connection used in Japan. To get ADSL you may need to set up an analog phone line, and then you can arrange Internet service with one of the following providers.
Dial-up is expensive and slow, so it is only recommended to those people who have no other choice. If you need to go dial-up, then ask around for a place that has local provider application forms, get someone to help you fill it in and send it off. Soon after, you will get all your login details, passwords and other settings.
Internet Service ProvidersEdit
One of the better fiber optic ISPs. Most well known and well liked ISP in Japan. Getting this service is going to require you to jump through hoops i.e. you'll have to set up the whole service yourself by contacting Fusion Gol yourself. Does have english speaking staff. http://www.gol.com/en/biz/
Another good fiber optic ISP. Has a 30gb/day upload limit, but otherwise generally regarded as pretty good. This is one of the options NTT promotes (for free line installation charges) if you call NTT for fiber optic service. English is limited. [http://service.ocn.ne.jp/english/
(NTT ぷらら) is a major Japanese internet service provider operated by NTT Plala Inc.
This service is by far the most well known ADSL service in Japan. You have unlimited access 24 hours a day to the internet.
To register with this service visit their website: http://bbpromo.yahoo.co.jp The site is in Japanese, so if you are having problems ask for help from a co-worker. There is one private English support group that can walk you through the application process step-by-step. Their website is: bbapply.com.
In addition, internet phone is included with most internet plans. All you will need to do is make sure that it is activated (activation is usualyl free), and then plug in a phone to the appropriate slot in your modem. The costs will vary from company to company, but YahooBB generally has the best prices for overseas calls, especially those to the USA.