Saturday, September 4, 2010

I Have Become Even More of What I Hate

After avoiding the nasty things for over a decade, circumstances (namely the need to get a Japanese bank account) have forced me to purchase a cellular phone.

Goddamn I hate this thing. It was easy enough to purchase, thanks to a nice Norwegian fellow named Martin who was getting a prepaid phone as well. I went to the SoftBank store in Shibuya because I was told they have English language service there-- I had never subscribed for mobile service before, and I didn't want to add my confusion with a language barrier. Unfortunately, once I got to the SoftBank store, they told me I had to go to a nearby discount store called Don Quixote (written in Katakana as Don Kihoote) to get prepaid phones. This is where Martin came in, guiding me to the store and serving as an interpreter, which was nice since getting a phone at this discount store when I had come all the way to Shibuya for ENGLISH SERVICE kinda defeated the point. Anyway, after about an hour, I got my phone and came home.

Setting up the hardware was pretty easy too-- slide in a chip and then put in a battery (on a related note, it doesn't come with a charger. . . dammit). Setting up the account, however, was a pain. The automated service I had to dial was, naturally, in Japanese, so I had to fumble about on the internet for a little while until I could figure out how to switch to English. This wouldn't have been SO bad, had it not been for the fact that I also had no idea how to input numbers into the menu. I spent fifteen minutes hitting the number for each menu item and pressing the ENTER button, not knowing that I wasn't supposed to hit ENTER. I only found this out by accident.

To top it all off, since it was cheap (about 3900 Yen for the phone, plus a 3000 Yen prepaid card) the thing is ugly. Take a look:

But at least it's done. Next on my to-do list is, of course, getting a bank account. I tried getting accounts at three big "traditional" banks, Mizuho, SMBC, and MUFG, but was told at all three that I need to be in the country for at least six months before they'll give me an account. Fortunately, after a preliminary job interview at Gaba, I was told that I could get an account at Shinsei bank. They wouldn't give me any trouble over my length of stay. . . but they would need a phone number. Well, with that part out of the way, I'll hopefully have a bank account by Monday.
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