It’s said that the biggest fear one has it that of public peaking. For me, my biggest fear is not having cellular service, and not being able to connect while on the go.

So, how does one connect while in Japan

Some quick tips to staying connected while on the go:
By phone International dialling prefixes vary from company to company. Check with your operator for more details. For international calls to Japan, the country code is 81. Emergency call Emergency call can be made from any phone at free of charge: call 110 for police or call 119 for fire and ambulance. Pay telephones Payphones (???? k?sh? denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards.

Japanese Phone photo

Photo by raneko

Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone. International phone charges from pay phones can be unusually high; third-party phone cards are a reasonable alternative.

Mobile phones Modern Japanese mobile phones (???? keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. For instance, most Japanese 2G mobile phones operate on the Personal Digital Cellular (PDC) standard, which was developed and is used exclusively in Japan. In a nutshell: Most 2G phones (GSM) from the rest of the world do not work in Japan. Even Quad-band GSM phones are useless. As AU switches its CDMA network to “new” 800MHz (used in the rest of the world), foreign CDMA phones (2G and 3G alike) will be able to be used in Japan for roaming purposes.

You MUST have your phone’s PRL updated, however, or it will not be able to register on AU’s towers. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. Carrier restrictions may apply: for instance, O2-UK (operating in Japan via NTT DoCoMo) requires you to dial *111*#, wait for a callback; then, dial the actual number you wish to connect. Be sure to double-check with your network provider before departing.

Other tips on staying connected while in Japan? Please add your comments and tips.