While in Japan communication, both domestically and internationally, with colleagues, family and friends is essential for research and education and also for your mental well-being. While there are public phones where you can make international calls, the most valuable tool for communication is probably a smartphone or mobile phone. (There are no phones with outside lines in the dormitories, and phone lines must be arranged after arrival for staff housing.)
Applying for a mobile phone can be done at mobile phone shops or appliance stores with the necessary documents (Residence card, student ID, bank account, etc.). Short-term residents without a residence card are usually not eligible to purchase phones with a contract or apply for phone service. Since monthly fees and rates vary by company and plan, you should select the most suitable one for your needs. Popular mobile phone companies are NTT Docomo, au and SoftBank.
Using a mobile phone in Japan
For domestic phones, Docomo, au and Softbank (the 3 largest carriers) offer phones and SIM cards, usually with a 2-year contract. They offer various services for repairs, etc., but monthly fees may be expensive. However, a SIM-free phone from your country may be used after buying a SIM card from low cost carriers like UQ Mobile, Mineo and other internet services. Also, buying a phone and SIM card separately on the internet or at Mineo or UQmobile can be inexpensive.
A survey of our international community has shown that many students and scholars sign contracts with one of the three largest carriers at electronics retail stores like Joshin in AEON Tomigaoka. The initial cost is anywhere from JPY 10,000 to 72,000 including the SIM card. The phone cannot be purchased individually.
For internet access on campus, in laboratories, student dormitories, etc., attending an ITC orientation and obtaining a Mandara account is necessary. New full-time students will have a group orientation but other students and scholars may need to the orientations arranged for individually. In order to ensure quick access to the internet, please contact your supervisor or other contact point before arriving.
There are also some free Wi-Fi apps available in Japan that connect you to hot spots allowing for internet access in certain areas.