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Posted in: Revised law aimed at mobile phone fee cut in Japan comes into effect See in context

MVNOs are great, and a huge improvement over the old big 3.

I think I pay about 2000 for 2 sims with a shared 3Gb data. But since I mainly use wi-fi, we rarely get over 2Gb data used and the data has rolled over to quite a lot.

I could pay a bit more for 4Gb or 5Gb.

Have they gotten rid of those ridiculous contract cancellation fees yet? I don't mind paying a cancelation fee if I got a free phone and cancel in the first 6 months, but they wanted me to pay 8000 to cancel after 7 years!

(it was only free to cancel in a 2 month period every other year.. which would surely be illegal in many countries).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Tax hike adds to woes for low-income households in Japan See in context

Can anyone shed any light on how this 'cashless' 3%/5% discount works?

Is it something you have to sign up for somewhere (if so where)?

Do you just get an immediate automatic 3/5% discount on the price, or get some kind of points back? (in which case, is it some kind of centralized government points, or the existing card points? )

I have a Suica card, a J-Debit card and a prepaid visa card... none of which have any kind of points scheme.

Do I just use them as usual and pay 3/5% less? I can't find any clear info on how it all works.

PS/ It's the first I've heard of these 20,000 yen vouchers as well. Seems like the hometown-tax thing in that it mainly benefits people who have enough spare cash lying around to make large one-time payments in order to get a bigger benefit down the line.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Does U.S. President Donald Trump deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? See in context

Obama did not deserve, and I voted for him twice!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Visitors flock to UNESCO World Heritage Site recommendations See in context

People both in Japan and overseas seem to have the wrong idea about the UNESCO World Heritage Lists. (there are several lists of different types).

As far as I know, they aren't supposed to be a tourist guide to the most impressive/beautiful sites. They are supposed to be a record of important historical and cultural sites/things.

People overseas seem to get upset when too many places are added to the list, especially if they aren't considered world class or wonders of the world. As if adding a factory somehow devalues a temple. It's not supposed to be a ranking or an exclusive club. It's simply supposed to be a list. If it grows to include thousands of sites then that's ok. Many of the sites on there already (such as mines in Wales) aren't places I would ever want to visit. They're important in terms of the industrial revolution and its influence on the UK/World. But they aren't really sightseeing spots.

People in Japan seem to treat it as a tour guide. Or a status symbol. If it's on the list, then it's great and worth seeing. If it's not on the list then it's not so good. Hence the pride in getting somewhere Japanese on the list, and the sudden desire to see a site that is suddenly "better" due to its new status. People here will often tell me they are visiting a country to see the World Heritage Sites. Not to see the historical sites, just the world heritage ones. If i recommend a place then they will ask if it is a World Heritage Site. I won't know, because I don't care, because it doesn't change whether it's amazing or not. This will not impress them.

It sure seems to get a lot more news coverage here too. Most people in my home country would have no idea if we have any world heritage site, or how many, or where they are. They would also have no idea or interest in whether Mt Fuji or The Taj Mahal or The Eiffel Tower were world heritage sites or not. Because it wouldn't change anything. And it's not intended to change anything, because it's not an exclusive list or a tour guide or a recommendation.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: The art of giving and receiving change in Japan See in context

No No No. I don't usually bother complaining about things in Japan, but the vacant smiles and slow customer service that you get in most convenience stores here are one of the things that really bug me. I'd take the personalized service, eye contact and smiles that you get in western/european/us stores over most of the service I get in Japanese convenience stores any day of the year.

Most Tokyo convenience store staff (and a lot of supermarket staff) are paying more attention to the rituals and the people walking into the store than the person standing infront of them. They almost never smile. They rarely make eye contact. They seem to be talking to someone about 5 meters behind and above you. They basically repeat the same script, ignoring the obvious infront of them. They never say "hello" or anything personalized. They move with glacial slowness as they follow every step of the ritual and count out all your money even when you are clearly in a rush. They suddenly interrupt what they're doing/saying to join in the Irashaemase chorus and basically shout in your face. They are still running through their automated script as you are walking out the door, which hardly makes it feel personal. Etc..

That said, a lot of customer service in Japan is pretty good, but cheap/quick shop store staff is usually not part of it. I've had better service in smaller towns, where people are less likely to stick to the impersonal script, and more likely to smile. My local supermarket in Tokyo has one middle aged lady who is always smiling and friendly. the rest, not so much. One of my local convenience stores had friendly (again older) staff. The others not so much. The convenience store near my office has had a couple of friendly staff over the years, interestingly they were all non-japanese. Indian, Asian, etc..

Sorry for the rant. i mostly love you japan!

4 ( +9 / -4 )

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