Buying a Phone in Japan 2014

A couple weeks back I passed my 2 years in Japan milestone, and why is that exciting exactly? Because it marked the date in which I could purchase a new phone, with my old contract having ended.

For my first 2 years in Japan I owed an iPhone 4s, for the first year it was great….. then iOS7 came along and crippled the device to the point where it was almost unusable. Towards the last few months I used the iPhone it would constantly crash every 2 minutes or so even when I was doing simple activities like writing posts on FB. Not to mention the fact I was forced to carry an external battery every where I went as the iPhone would last 3 hours at best. In sort……

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But this is not that kind of blog, so I’ll leave that there.

When the end May rolled around it was time to decide upon a replacement for my brick of an iPhone, at that time realistically there was only 2 choices considering I wanted nothing less than the best model on the market.maxresdefault

As it turned out Japan made up my mind for me since the HTC ONE M8 is still yet to be released here, so I decided upon the Samsung Galaxy S5 and have never looked back.

At the moment the Galaxy S5 is available with both Docomo and AU however I decided to go with the former. Now the way new models are released in Japan is kind of stupid, instead of simply coming out when they are available in the rest of the world, phones in Japan are held back until the beginning of a new season so they can all be released together…… frustrating if you are waiting for that new model to say the least.

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Above is the 2014 Docomo Summer Lineup, as one can see the Galaxy S5 is the standout model of the bunch (only in Japan would a Disney phone be a popular model ^^;)

If you would like to see more info about the plans available with Docomo for the Galaxy S5 you can find it HERE.

Now I ain’t no tech reviewer so I’ma leave that up to CNET but I can simply say that after using it this past month the Galaxy S5 is a work of art,the screen is beautiful, it takes amazing photos, battery life is great and its the most powerful phone on the market…… yeah it seems I have become an Android fanboy.

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Also as a fun lil note exclusive to Japan the Galaxy S5 comes in a pink model, needless to say I passed on that option.

Ok so on to the meat of the story. I headed over to a large Docomo store bright and early on a Saturday morning, having heard an English speaking staff member worked that particular store. To my dismay it was her day off but determined to come home with a shiny new Galaxy 5 that day I fleshed out my options.

Now my Japanese has progressed to the point where I can have basic conversations however the technical words one might come across when discussing contracts were way over my head. Fortunately DoCoMo in fact has a very convenient translation service, the lady at the desk called up a translator for me upon my request.

The service was extremely efficient with  guy on the other end of the phone negotiating all the details of the contract and explaining every aspect of it to me.

There are a wide array of services you can mix and match to suit your needs, they can be found on the DoCoMo website HERE.

If you intend to keep the device and stay with Docomo for Type Xi Plan Ninen will come with lower monthly charges than the basic Type Xi Plan.

When signing up you must select a monthly data download package of either 2GB or 7GB with the later only being an additional 1000円 per month (おすすめ). In addition you can also choose whether you would like to pay exorbitantly if this cap is exceeded for additional data while retaining LTE speeds or be throttled to 128kbs with no charges (this will make your smart phone…… dumb till the data resets).

There are a good half dozen charges that stack on top but at the end of the day with 7gb download, handset repayments, insurance and no free calls expect to pay about 7500円 a month for this model. This is quite reasonable all said and done, considering DoCoMo foots 85% of the bill of the 110000円 handset simply for being signing up as a customer with them.

Homemade Kaisendon 海鮮丼

image Took a shot at making homemade kaisendon 海鮮丼 (various sashimi on rice) today, think it turned out fair legit. I’ma show you a just how easy it is make your own too!

imageNow this recipe is actually different from the super pretty one I made above but its all the same. Most supermarkets here will stock kaisendon sashimi kits, they basically just include サーモン (salmon), まぐろ (tuna) and 鯛 (sea bream) that have been cut up into bite sized chunks. Unlike the super fancy kaisendon above this one only set me back about 400円 for the fish. imageI picked up a packet of Kaisendon no tare 海鮮丼のたれ (soy based seasoning for the kaisendon) while I was grabbing the fish, it can either be used to marinate the sashimi before it is placed upon the rice or pored over the top once it is assembled. imageHere is one of the little packets of the sauce. Tare たれ is used in a huge array of Japanese dishes from nabe to sashimi to yakiniku, and is essentially flavored or thickened soy sauce with added dashi, vinegar, etc. That said each variation is a little different depending on the dish it is to be used with. imageI really like sushi rice so I decided to make some to go underneath the fish. Its super easy to do, this is the 米酢 (rice vinegar) that I like to use, you simply add it to the freshly steamed rice with a little sugar and salt straight out of the rice cooker. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Sushi-Rice But i don’t need to get into that. imageAnd here is the finished product, garnish with some shredded nori 海苔 (dried seaweed) and a little wasabi, Enjoy!

Kobe JET Leavers Video 2014

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It’s that time of year where our old JET’s are leaving our community to make way for the new arrivals coming in August.

Annually we hold a large event to farewell our friends prior to their departure and this year I was on the leavers party organizing committee. We decided upon a venue in Harborland called Cafe Fish, a wedding reception that could hold the 100 or so guests of the evening.

The party is always an emotional event, this year in particular it is with a heavy heart we are saying our farewells to many of the great pillars of our community. Although we encountered a few hiccups along the way, more or less I would consider the event a great success.

A tradition alongside the party is the screening of a farewell video during the midway point of the event, I took it upon myself to make the video this year. It was a labour of love taking months of effort accumulating over 1000 photos and editing them together. I am very proud of the results, and it was with great relief to see it well received on the evening.

Without further a due, please enjoy the 2014 Kobe JET Leavers Video.

 

If you’re interested the leavers videos from 2012 can be found HERE and and 2013 HERE :)

Enjoy

Mr. Taccone is a pervert!

wpid-20140702_144745Today my OTE had my 3年 write what they thought about me in English…… Some of the more interesting ones were: – Mr. Taccone is a pervert. – His body is very hairy. – His favorite food is his mother’s face. – He likes Japanese women. – If he could speak Japanese well, he would be cute. – He is like a cat. I don’t know how to feel about this ^^;imageimagewpid-20140702_152852wpid-20140702_152055

Kobe JET Scavenger Hunt 2014 (SCUNT)

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So once again its that magical time of year, in which us crazy Kobe kids decent upon the streets of Sannomiya for one epic night of chaos and enjoy. Saturday June 7th 2014 was the eveningof annual Kobe JET Scavenger hunt (abbreviated to SCUNT).

The basics of the the game are as follows:
Prior to the event ALT’s are asked to assemble teams of up to 8 with a theme of some description, as points are typically awarded for ‘best’ dressed’ crazy costumes are a must!

Teams assemble at ‘paiyama’ (the central meeting spot of Sannomiya) at 7PM, the night of the event and are given a list of clues to solve ‘the mystery’ which varies year by year depending upon the theme.

There are various other ALTs playing on the organizers team spread across the city who must be tracked down and interrogated. As one successfully interviews ‘suspects’ they receive more and more clues, meanwhile additional points can be scored for taking specific ‘crazy photos’ along the way.

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This is my third year participating in the event and I decided my team was to go all out with costumes this time. Being quite fond of the anime Shingeki no Kyojin 進撃の巨人 (literally ‘The Advancing Giants’ but the English title being Attack on Titan), I decided to form a group to cosplay as the Survey Corps from the show. As a little play on words I named our team Shingeki no Kobe 進撃の神戸 (Advance on Kobe) however a friend later told me a much more fitting title I should have named it Shingeki no Gaijin 進撃の外人 (The Advancing Foreigners), but shouganai!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, it is immensely popular in Japan and now around the world. The anime takes place in a world where humanity was nearly wiped out by a race of mindless humanoid giants who eat people. These giants are the Titans. Approximately one hundred years after the sudden appearance of the Titans humanity has retreated behind a series of three concentric circular walls. One day tragedy strikes when an especially large and intelligent Titan appears and destroys the outermost gate. After losing everything the protagonist Eren and his friends join the army, planning to seek revenge through the Scout Regiment. In a nutshell……

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This year the organizing of the event was handed over to two of my most amazing friends Andrew and Elizabeth who inherited it the lovely Jojo, a JET who left us last year. Under the pseudonyms of Agent Tek and Agent Cougarwho delivered to us a James Bond themed SCUNT for 2014.

 

This years teams:

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My very own, Shingeki no Kobe

And yes believe it or not that is I as the Titan, our Survey Corps comprised of Paul, Peter, Ryan, Sandy, Matt and Octavio.

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Shambolic Sextet

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JETolution

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S and M

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Sandys Betrayal

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Guild of Tea & Cookies

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Skittles

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Kobe Banditos – formerly known as the Cumslingers (silent r)

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Captal Vice

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District Yarimashou

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Cartoon JETwork

 

Please enjoy some of our stupid photos from the evening.
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 -SPOILER ALERT-

Make sure to watch the video before you read on ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh and just quietly, guess who’s taking over SCUNT next year in 2015………

SCUNT PREVIEW 2 SCUNT PREVIEW 1 SCUNT PREVIEW 3

 

Want more? The 2013 post SCUNT wrap up can be found HERE and the 2012 one HERE.