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Phone jacks are the same in Japan as in the United States. Many hotels have ADSL or Ethernet connections for high-speed Internet access. Ethernet cables are usually available at hotels if you don't bring your own. Wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) is increasingly available for free at certain coffee shops (Starbucks), at convenience stores (7-Eleven), and in many hotels across the country; at some hotels Wi-Fi will be available only in the lobby, or might be free in the lobby but available only for a fee in the guest rooms. There are Internet cafés in many cities, often doubling as manga (comic book) libraries where you can rent a relaxation room with massage chair, computer, and desk.
Cybercafés. Lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide. www.cybercafes.com.
The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on Earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally.
The country code for Japan is 81. When dialing a Japanese number from outside Japan, drop the initial "0" from the local area code.
Public telephones are a dying species in cell-phone-happy Japan. But there are usually public telephones near convenience stores, in train and subway stations, and in hotel lobbies. Phones accept ¥100 coins as well as prepaid telephone cards. Operator assistance at 104 is in Japanese only. Weekdays 9–5 (except national holidays) English-speaking operators can help you at the toll-free NTT Information Customer Service Centre.
Directory Assistance (104.)
NTT Information Customer Service Centre (0120/36–4463.)
Many gray, multicolor, and green phones have gold plates indicating, in English, that they can be used for international calls. Telecom companies KDDI and Softbank provide international service with the following access numbers: 001 (KDDI) and 0041 and 0061 (Softbank). Dial the company code + country code + city/area code and number of your party. Telephone credit cards are especially convenient for international calls. For operator assistance in English on long-distance calls, dial 0051.
The country code for the United States is 1.
Japan has several telephone companies for international calls, so make a note of all the possible access code numbers to use to connect to your U.S. server before departure.
AT&T Direct (800/222–0300.)
MCI WorldPhone (800/444–4444.)
Sprint International Access (800/877–4646.)
Telephone cards, sold in vending machines, hotels, and a variety of stores, are tremendously convenient. Cards for ¥1,000 can be used in virtually all public telephones. For international calls, look for phones that accept KDDI and Softbank prepaid cards valued between ¥1,000 and ¥7,000.
Japan is the world leader in mobile-phone technology, but overseas visitors cannot easily use their handsets in Japan because it is a non-GSM country. It is best to rent a phone from one of the many outlets at Narita, Kansai, and Nagoya airports. Softbank sells 3G SIM cards so you can use your own number in Japan. Most company rental rates start at ¥525 a day, excluding insurance. Check the airport websites for the current companies.
JALABC Rental Phone (www.jalabc.com/rental/domestic_eng.)