September 2007 Archives

gundamkizuna_logo.png

Name in Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム 戦場の絆 (Kidou Senshi GANDAMU Senjou no Kizuna)
Of interest to: Residents, Tourists
Coolness: Extremely cool!
Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Genre: FPS (First-Person Shooter), Mecha (Giant Robots)
Cost: ¥500 per game, ¥300 per card
Website: http://www.gundam-kizuna.jp/

Gundam Kizuna PodsIf you've visited a big arcade within the past year, you will have almost certainly seen this game at least once. Comprising of a minimum of four individual "PODs" and one or more "Pilot Terminals", it certainly takes up a lot of space and makes its presence well known. You might have peered inside, seen the domed projection screen which fills your vision, and thought to yourself, "this looks incredible but I'd never be able to work out how to play it". Well, in actual fact this game is nowhere near as complex as it looks and is actually very fun to play with friends! And yes, it is quite expensive, but playing this game is an experience which must be tried at least once.

In essence, Gundam Kizuna is a first-person shooter. You take control of a giant robot ("Mobile Suit", in Gundam terminology) of your choosing, and try to gain victory for your team by destroying enemy Mobile Suits or the opponent's base. This is a team game and as such it requires co-operation between team members. Because of this, a microphone headset is usually provided inside each POD. Otherwise, there are jacks for inserting your own. Voice chat only works between PODs located inside the same arcade. When you start a game, you are automatically teamed up with players in your own arcade, or from around the country. If no other games are available, the computer will play the part of both teammate and enemy.

It's not a very hard game to pick up, especially if you are familiar with tank-style controls, and the main challenge will be devising up strategies for outwitting the enemy players.

Things To Know

Requirements: In order to play, you must first purchase a Pilot Card. This card stores all your personal data, and you can't play without one. You must also not be claustrophobic or get motion sick too easily. The domed screen can be overwhelming.

Costs: A new Pilot Card is ¥300, and is required to play. Every game is ¥500 yen, and consists of two rounds of 250 seconds each. Some arcades operate a point card system, where you get one free game every 20 played.

Availability: Anyone can play. At the arcade, you may need to sign a reservation sheet indicating your player name and how many people you will play with. Some arcades may give precedence to groups of 2, 4 or 8 over single players or odd-numbered groups in order to guarantee match-ups. A list of arcades with this game is available on the official website.

Trivia: The Gundam franchise is huge in Japan, and this game is extremely popular at any time of day. Maps are rotated usually on a 3-day schedule, meaning that all players in the country always play on the same map. Map schedules are available on the official website.

How To Play It

A nice player's manual is usually available from the cardboard advertising sign placed somewhere near the Pilot's Terminal, and should give a good idea of the basic controls through its simple diagrams. However, not everything is immediately obvious (with it all being written in Japanese, of course).

The Basics

gundamkizuna_pilotterminal.jpgAt the arcade, you will have to get to grips with two pieces of equipment: the PODs and the Pilot Terminals. The Pilot Terminals are free-standing touch-screens with a monitor overhead showing previous games. You can use Pilot Terminals to buy new Pilot Cards and to check your data.

The PODs are the individual cubicles that you actually play in. They can only seat one, and most arcades won't let a friend observe from inside the POD either. The PODs are fitted with a dual-lever and dual-pedal control system, a 180º projection screen, surround sound, and a headset jack. The seat is adjustable and should be able to fit most tall people. The lights outside the POD give you its current status. A green "In Operation" sign means it's currently being used; don't open the door or disturb the player inside. Two long light strips will be either blue or red indicating the player's faction. Blue is EFSF, Red is Zeon. If the strips are purple, it means the POD is free for use. If the strips are flashing your faction's colour, it means you can join a game about to start in your arcade by inserting your card right away. A countdown inside the POD shows you how long you have to insert your card if you wish to join that game.

Typically, a game session will progress like this: first, you decide who you will play with. You can either play with people present in the arcade (good for practicing your Japanese!), or you can choose to play alone. There will usually be an attendant or at least a reservation sheet. Write down your player name and how many people your party consists of. When it's your turn, enter an empty POD (one with the green "In Operation" sign off and with purple stripes), sit down and adjust your seat (there's a handle underneath the seat on the right hand side). Insert your Pilot Card and your money and wait for matchmaking to finish. Select your Mobile Suit, then play the game. Once both rounds are over, take your card from the slot, leave the POD, and insert your card into a Pilot Terminal. This will update your statistics and present you with upgrades, if you gained any during your games.

The Controls

If you know how a tank is driven, you already have a good idea of how this game works. You have two levers, each one controlling a leg. Pushing both forwards moves you forwards, pulling both back makes you retreat. Pushing both to the left or right makes you strafe in that direction. To turn left, you have to push the right lever forward and the left lever backwards. Pulling the levers apart makes your Mobile Suit grapple your opponent. To turn right, do the opposite. Learning this basic movement is crucial, take the time to visualise what the levers do.

You also have two pedals. The left pedal enables you to jump, while the right pedal makes you dash. Both of these movements are limited by your Mobile Suit's boost gauge, on the bottom right of your screen. If you deplete it, it will take slightly longer for it to fill up, and you will not be able to jump or boost until it's full again.

On the two levers are two triggers and two buttons. First, the triggers. The left trigger operates your close-range weapon, usually a beam sabre. The right trigger operates your primary weapon, usually a beam rifle. Pulling both triggers fires your secondary weapon, usually a grenade. The button on the right lever is your lock-on button. Press it again to lose your lock-on. The button on the left lever changes the lock-on target. This is useful in a close-combat situation versus two or more enemies.

To the right of the main controls are three blue buttons. These can be used before the game to set various options, and during the game they bring up the text chat menu. Underneath the blue buttons is the Pilot Card slot, which will be glowing orange. To the right of the seat is the coin slot, which accepts both ¥100 and ¥500 coins. Above the coin slot are the microphone and headphone jacks, along with the headphone volume controls.

The First Game

First things first, you need to purchase a Pilot Card from the Pilot Terminal. Because creating a new card can take a few minutes, wait until nobody is using it, then touch the screen. Touch the "New Card" button on the screen. You will be presented with safety warnings. Touch the button on the left to continue. Touch the button on the next screen too. On the next screen, you will have to choose a faction. If you're a Gundam fan, you will already know all about the two factions. The only real difference between these factions is the actual models of Mobile Suits available. Check the official website to see which Mobile Suits you like the look of best. Please note however, that if you want to play with friends, you will all have to be on the same faction. Once you've selected your faction, enter your desired name. You can use Hiragana, Katakana and Roman letters. Once you're happy with the name (you can't change it later), touch the button on the bottom right. On the next screen, select your avatar and voice. Unfortunately, there isn't a great selection, and there are no female avatars/voices either. Touch the bottom button to continue. You will now be presented with your first Mobile Suit. You will be using this model for your first few games. Once you press the button on the bottom, you will be asked to insert ¥300 into the coin slot on the Pilot Terminal. Once you've done this, your card will be prepared and it will then pop out of the card slot.

The first game is always played on a special offline map, "Side 7". You will never face human opponents on this map, as it's meant to gradually ease you into the game. Because of this, you have to play your first game on your own. If your arcade uses a reservation sheet, write your pilot name in the next free slot, circling "初" as your faction. This tells other players that you are new and will not be playing with anyone else. After you complete your first game and insert your card into the Pilot Terminal, your rank will go up from "Civilian" to "Private" and you will be able to play with other people.

Playing The Game

Once the attendant announces your game (or your name is next on the reservation sheet), enter a free POD (the green "In Operation" light is off and the light strips are purple). Use the handle under the seat to adjust it and sit down. Insert your card into the flashing orange slot. The screen will display your name and avatar, followed by safety instructions. After a few seconds, you will have to insert your coins. The coin slot is to your right, you can either insert 5 ¥100 coins or a single ¥500 coin. The game will now spend about 40 seconds waiting for other players from your arcade to join in. If this is your very first game, or there are no other free PODs, you will not be able to play with anyone else and the game will skip this step. During this time you can put on your headset and chat to your fellow players. Remember, voice chat only works between players of the same faction playing the same game in the same arcade. If you do not wish to chat with your team-mates, unplug the microphone (but don't forget to plug it back in when you've finished).

The next step is matchmaking. The game will automatically find the best allies and opponents to pit you against. If you are playing your very first game, the game will skip this step as well. During this phase, the timer starts at 90 seconds and displays the day's map. Once all players have been found, the timer will jump to 10 seconds. If the game remains on this screen for the entire 90 seconds, then you will most likely be facing computer opponents. During this waiting period, you can also press the blue button to adjust the game's volume. Choose a suitable value so that you can still hear your team-mates over the headset.

When the timer reaches 0, all the players will be displayed in order. You will see their name, avatar, rank, team and arcade. The number of players in each game will depend on the day's map. The smallest game type is 4 vs 4, the largest is 8 vs 8. Any combination between these is possible if the day's map is 8 vs 8, but there will always be an equal number of humans on both teams. Computer characters may be included to pad the teams out. You can tell if a player is a computer by looking at their arcade name. If it's "バンダイナムコ" (Bandai Namco), then they're controlled by the computer.

The "meeting" now begins. Select your Mobile Suit category first. Close-range Suits are at the top, Long-range and Snipers at the bottom. The Suits you have in each category are displayed on the right when you hover over them. To select a category, you can either use the blue buttons to the right of your controls, or use the controls themselves. If you do not have any Suits in a category, you will not be able to select it. If this is your very first game, select the default option. Now select your desired Mobile Suit by moving the left lever left or right. When choosing a mobile suit, it's important to consider two things. First is the type. There is no use in using a long-range Suit in a small map, and there is no real reason why there should be more than one Sniper per team. If in doubt, choose a Mid-range Suit. The next thing to consider is Cost. The more powerful a suit, the greater its Cost. Just like in a real war, your faction can only afford so many Mobile Suits. If you are killed, then your team will lose the Cost of your Suit. If your team's Cost bar is depleted during the game, you automatically lose. If you are new, it's best to use a "cheap" Suit so that you can make more mistakes.

Once you've chosen your Suit, choose its options. You can select the close-range, primary and secondary weapons, as well as defence or mobility modifications. Select an option by moving the left lever up or down (or using the blue buttons), and change it by moving the left lever left or right. Once you're happy with your set-up, press the blue button on the last option.

When all of your team members have finished selecting their Suits, the game will start. You will see a list of all players in the game (including those on the opposing faction), the map's name, and the map's rules. Once loading has finished, you will be launched from your aircraft carrier and straight into the map!

At the very start of the game, it's a good idea to stick together with your team-mates, following their lead and seeing what their play-style is like. It's never a good idea to charge forward and suddenly find yourself surrounded by the enemy! Use the mini-map in the top right of the screen to see where the enemies are. When you see an enemy, their name will be displayed above their head. If you are close enough to get a lock-on, your aiming reticule will change from blue to red. Press the lock-on button (on the right lever) to lock-on. You can fire your weapons at any time, and you can even hit enemies without being locked-on, but using this feature is a great help.

When you are close enough to use your close-range weapon, your aiming reticule will change from red to red with an orange circle around it. Pull your left trigger now and you will automatically rush up to your enemy and slash them with your close-range weapon. This will usually knock them to the floor. Whenever you or an enemy is knocked over, you lose any lock-on you may have had.

Look out for players who are sparking - their health is low. Although you do get bonus points for killing an enemy, players receive points according to how much damage the deal. You can check your score on the bottom left of your screen. If you are low on health, your health bar (bottom left) will be flashing red. To avoid being killed and reducing your team's Cost bar, you can retreat to your base and stop near it. You will automatically recharge health. Note that you can't recharge if you move or shoot, and you also can't recharge if your base was destroyed by the enemy. If this is your very first game, Side 7 does not have any bases, so you can't recharge.

When the time limit runs out (check the bottom right of your screen), the round will end and the round result is displayed. The team with the highest Cost bar level remaining wins. Each player's score will be displayed, along with number of kills and number of times killed. After this, your points are tallied and your grade is displayed. The highest is S, the lowest is E. The second round will now commence. As before, select your Mobile Suit and wait for the round to start.

At the end of the two rounds, your card will be ejected. As a courtesy to the next player, adjust the seat so it is all the way back, and replace the headphone on top of the coin slot or the hook, if there is one. Now leave the POD and head towards the Pilot Terminal. Insert your Pilot Card into the Terminal's slot and wait for it to read the data. Your points will be added together. Touch the bottom button to continue. At this point, you may be presented with new upgrades, weapons, Mobile Suits, ranks and/or titles. For the first three you have no choice but to accept by touching the button. For ranks and titles, you can choose whether or not to change them. If this was your very first game, you will also be asked to join a team. Pick the icon you like the best, as this will go onto your card and will be displayed next to your name in the game. If your friends play in the same arcade, look for their team in the list. You can always change teams later. Remember that teams are arcade-specific. The last question you will be asked is if you want to access the Pilot Terminal to check your data. Once you've finished checking your data, touch the red button in the top right of the screen to eject your card.

Coming Soon: Gundam Kizuna - Advanced Playguide!

Mobile Suica

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

mobilesuica_logo.gif

Name in Japanese: モバイルSuica (MOBAIRU Suica)
Of interest to: Residents
Coolness: Very cool
Utility: Extremely useful!
Cost: Charges may apply
Website: http://www.jreast.co.jp/mobilesuica/

If you live in Tokyo, chances are you've already heard about Suica. Simply put, it's JR East's transport pass. Instead of buying a ticket to use the trains, buses or subway in the Tokyo area, you can use Mobile Suica on your Osaifu Keitai and breeze through the ticket barriers. Mobile Suica has several advantages over a Suica card. First and foremost, you can recharge your credit from your phone (if you have a credit card). You can also purchase Green Car (first class) tickets and buy Commuter Passes - all on your phone.

Mobile Suica also works in the ICOCA (Kansai) area, albeit only on the JR lines. In Tokyo, Mobile Suica useable on the PASMO (bus and subway) network.

Things To Know

Requirements: A mobile phone with Osaifu Keitai capabilities. Your mobile phone plan must allow data transfer. To recharge your credit directly from your phone, or to be able to purchase Green Car tickets and Commuter Passes, you must have a credit card.

Costs: Registration is free but you may be charged a yearly fee if you do not have a JR East View card. The yearly fee will not be more than ¥1,000 a year. Recharging your credit is free. The Mobile Suica application accesses the Internet and you may be charged for data transfer.

Availability: Registration is available to anyone. Check the Mobile Suica website for a list of stations and shops which accept Edy. Shops accepting Mobile Suica will have the Suica logo on the door or window, as well as a sensor near the till.

Trivia: The Suica mascot is a Penguin, often seen holding or balancing on a watermelon. This comes from the fact that "Suika" is "watermelon" in Japanese.

How To Get It

First of all, you have to decide how you will use Mobile Suica. If you don't have a credit card, you can use Easy Mobile Suica. This service is limited; you can't buy Green Car tickets or Commuter Passes, and to charge up your credit you need to visit a Newdays or Family Mart convenience store. Even if you don't have a Japanese credit card, it's worth seeing if yours will work with the service. If you want to use Easy Mobile Suica, skip ahead to the download section.

Registration

You should first register your details with the Mobile Suica website.

Once there, click on the first link from the top to start registration. On the next page, you can click on the second link if you have already registered with JR East's "Eki-net" website. Otherwise, click on the first bullet-point link to continue. Next come the terms and conditions. Select the button on the right to accept and continue.

On the next form you will have to first select you mobile phone operator (NTT DoCoMo, au or Softbank), then your phone's model. If your phone is not listed, then it isn't compatible with the Mobile Suica service. Select the button on the right to move on.

Next is the form itself. Please consult the annotated images of the top half and bottom half of the form. Once done, press the button on the right to continue to the confirmation page. If you get an error instead, make sure you used the correct type of character when inputting data. All Japanese characters should be written with your system's IME, and in full-width characters. All other data should be input without the IME.

Once you have confirmed that your data is correct on the confirmation page, select continue to finish the registration. You should receive an email confirming your registration soon.

Downloading & Installing

You must now download the Mobile Suica applet to your phone. To do this, simply scan the barcode on the Mobile Suica website. You will be taken to the mobile website where you can press the download button. Please note that NTT DoCoMo users have to download two applets. All other users only need to download one.

Once you have downloaded the main applet, run it to install it. Please note: unlike other Osaifu Keitai applications, you cannot delete Mobile Suica once it's installed. Make sure you really want to use this service before installing it. If in the future you wish to have it deleted, you must get your phone formatted by your operator.

Once the applet is running, the login screen will appear. Type in your phone's e-mail address and the PIN you chose earlier during registration. Then select 1 (login) to continue. If you want to use Easy Mobile Suica (you don't have a credit card), then select 2 to register. The registration form you will be presented with is similar to the PC version above, except for the fact that before the form you will be asked if you want to register a credit card (option 1) or not (option 2).

Once you have registered or logged in, you may get a screen asking you if you want to convert an existing Commuter Pass to Mobile Suica. If you don't have one, select 2 to finish.

How To Use It

Thankfully, once it's set up, you will never have to input any more personal information again! From now on, the applet will go straight to the main menu, where you will be able to see how much credit you have.

Recharging Credit

If you don't have a credit card registered (and are therefore using Easy Mobile Suica), then you have to go to a convenience store that accepts Suica, like Newdays in JR stations. Just tell the cashier, "Suica ni CHAAJI shite kudasai". Hand over the amount you want to recharge by, and place your phone over the flashing sensor. when asked to. It will beep and show the remaining credit on the display if everything goes well.

If you did register a credit card and are using the full Mobile Suica service, then select option 2 from the main menu ("SF"). You will be asked for your PIN for security. Input it and then press 1 to login. From the menu which follows, press 1 again to charge. Now input the amount of money you would like to charge. You can input any amount between ¥1,000 and ¥10,000. The maximum amount you can hold on your phone is ¥20,000. Press 1 once you're happy with the amount. You will get a confirmation page. Check your amount and then press 1 again to start charging. The Suica penguin will roll around your screen for about a minute while your credit is being charged. You will get a final confirmation page once it's finished.

Using Credit

When using the public transportation system, first of all make sure that your chosen line or bus route actually accepts Suica or PASMO. Especially in the suburbs of Tokyo, not all trains or buses have the readers installed. When getting on a train, just hold your phone over the green or blue Suica/PASMO sensor until the light goes out and the gate beeps, letting you through. The screen will show you how much credit is left. If the sensor turns red and the gate does not open, check your credit and try again. Don't "swipe" your phone over the sensor, just make sure the FeliCa logo on your phone is directly over the gate's sensor and touch them together, if necessary. JR East recommends you give the sensor at least 1 second to read your phone's chip. You'll also need to touch your phone again on your way out. Also, don't forget that you can use the priority Suica-only ticket barriers.

On buses, touch your phone to the sensor next to the driver. It should be blue, but the sensor's light turns off if it is not used in a few minutes. It should light up as you bring your phone close, beeping and confirming you've paid your fare. There is no need to touch it again upon leaving the bus.

On a vending machine, first select your drink by pushing its button. Then hold your phone over the machine's Suica or PASMO sensor. It will beep and your drink will be dispensed. You can also just bring your phone to the sensor to see how much credit you have on the machine's display.

In a shop that accepts Suica or PASMO, just tell the cashier, "Suica de, onegaishimasu" when it's time to pay. Then hold your phone to the flashing sensor to complete the transaction.

Extra Tips

- If it has either a Suica or PASMO logo on it, you can use your phone with it. This includes vending machines, lockers, and even advertising posters!

- Remember that you can't use the ticket machines to recharge your credit or check your balance. You have to do everything via the Mobile Suica applet.

- Mobile Suica can be used in the Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto region, but only on certain JR lines. It won't work on any private railways or subways.

- Mobile Suica can be used with Sony's "PaSoRi" FeliCa reader for Windows PCs. The SFCard Viewer application can be used to check detailed usage reports. New Sony computers come with a PaSoRi sensor built-in.

Coming Soon: Mobile Suica - Advanced Usage!

Edy

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

edy_logo.jpg

Name in Japanese: 電子マネー「エディ」 (Denshi MANEE Edy)
Of interest to: Residents
Coolness: Very cool
Utility: Very useful
Cost: Free (Data charges may apply)
Website: http://www.edy.jp/

Used by an ever-growing list of retailers, Edy is Japan's most popular e-money service. It's available in both RFID Card and Osaifu Keitai form, although this guide will focus on the Osaifu Keitai incarnation. Both simple to set-up and use, it's the perfect way to shop without having to lug around a wallet.

Things To Know

Requirements: A mobile phone with Osaifu Keitai capabilities. Your mobile phone plan must allow data transfer. To recharge your credit directly from your phone, you must have one of the credit cards listed on the Edy website.

Costs: Registration is free and there are no maintenance costs. Recharging your credit is free. The Edy application accesses the Internet and you may be charged for data transfer.

Availability: Registration is available to anyone. Check the Edy website for a list of shops which accept Edy. Shops accepting Edy will have the Edy logo on the door or window, as well as a sensor near the till.

Trivia: Edy actually stands for "Euro, Dollar, Yen" - even though the service is currently only available in Japan and only works using the Yen.

How To Get It

The Edy application comes pre-installed on NTT DoCoMo phones. On au and Softbank, you may have to find and install it yourself. You can download the application by scanning the barcode on the Edy website.

edy_setup1.jpgWhen you run Edy for the first time, you will be asked to activate the service. No personal information is required, the Edy service will simply assign your phone with a serial number. Select 1 to continue.

edy_setup2.jpgOccasionally, Edy will run special promotions for new registrations. In this case, Edy are offering 100 yen free when you register. If there are no promotions at the time you register, you may not see this screen. In any case, select 1 to continue.

edy_setup3.jpgIn this screen, you have to accept the terms and conditions of the service. Select 1 to confirm your registration.

edy_setup4.jpgThe Edy application will connect to the Internet and activate your Edy account. This may take a minute or two. Once it's finished, your Edy number will appear on the screen. Although you won't need it for normal usage, it's useful to keep a record of it in case something happens to your phone and you want to recover your balance.

Once registration is over, you can start using it immediately.

How To Use It

Using Edy is a lot easier than setting it up - not that setting it up is very difficult! As with any Osaifu Keitai application, Edy works even when your phone is switched off, and there is no need to even access the Edy application again.

Charging Credit

The simplest way to put money onto your phone is to visit a shop or use an automatic charging machine.

If you go to a shop, they accept Edy and allow you to charge your credit, simply tell the cashier, "EDY ni CHAAJI shite kudasai", give them the money, and place your phone over the flashing sensor. If everything goes to plan, the sensor will tinkle (Edy say their sensors go "shariiin").

If you manage to find an automatic charging machine, first place your phone onto the flashing sensor. The lights will turn steady and your current balance will appear on the display. Insert your money and press the green button to charge. Several models of chargers exist. Some let you press a button to specify by how much you want to charge, others require you to press the green button to charge every time you insert a banknote. The sensor will tinkle every time the charge is successful. Once you're happy with the amount charged, you can press the blue button for a receipt.

In both cases, you can now open the Edy application to confirm that the charge was successful. The main menu of the Edy application displays your current balance in big numerals.

Charging by credit card requires filling out a registration form. Unfortunately, my credit card (Citibank) is pretty much the only one NOT accepted by Edy, so I can't provide a setup guide just yet.

Using Credit

Paying by Edy is quick, painless and convenient. Whenever you're in a shop that takes Edy as payment and it's time to pay, just tell the cashier, "EDY de onegai shimasu". When the Edy sensor starts flashing, put your phone on top of it until is tinkles. There's no need to "swipe" it, and there's no need to physically touch the sensor either. Make sure that the FeliCa logo on your phone is facing the sensor. It'll usually work up to 1-2cm away from it.

Extra Tips

- Edy can be used with Sony's "PaSoRi" FeliCa reader for Windows PCs. The Edy Viewer application can be used to check detailed balance reports, receive Edy Gifts, transfer money (Edy to Edy), as well as recharge credit via a credit card. New Sony computers come with a PaSoRi sensor built-in.

- Some shops may offer you certain rewards for using Edy with them. You may occasionally receive cash gifts from these shops. You can receive these gifts by using the "Edy Gift" option from the Edy application's main menu (option 3).

Osaifu Keitai

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

osaifukeitai_logo.jpg

Name in Japanese: おサイフケータイ (Osaifu Keetai)
Of interest to: Residents
Coolness: Quite cool
Utility: Very useful
Cost: High

One of the first things anyone buys when living in a new country is a mobile phone. Unfortunately for most people coming to live here, Japan's mobile phone network is largely incompatible with the GSM standard currently used elsewhere. Additionally, Japanese phones are heavily tied to their operators and their services. If you switch operators, you will have to buy a new phone too.

When buying a new phone, one feature to look for above all other is the "Osaifu Keitai" feature. Phones bearing this logo have an integrated Sony FeliCa RFID chip, which allows the user to access various services. Some of the most popular include e-money payment services, transport passes, and point cards. Osaifu Keitai literally means "wallet-phone", and it can indeed replace many of the cards already in your wallet!

How To Get One

osaifukeitai_felicalogo.jpgIf you already have a mobile phone, you might already own one! Look to see if you can find this logo somewhere on your phone's casing. It's usually on the back, underneath the camera. If you can't find this logo, or if you don't already own a mobile phone, you'll have to buy a new one.

All three of the major carriers have Osaifu Keitais. NTT DoCoMo and au have the widest range, while Softbank currently don't have a good selection. Another thing to note is that most services are only available for NTT DoCoMo, with au having an excellent selection and Softbank once again having a limited selection.

Apart from the cost of a new phone, the actual feature is free to use. Individual services may have additional subscription costs and may require data transfer to install and maintain. Actually using the chip does not incur any costs.

How To Use

In order to be useful, you will need to install a specific service. Here are some of the most popular, along with their usage guides.

Shopping/E-Money: Edy, iD, Nanaco
Transport: Mobile Suica, JAL, ANA

In order to access previously-installed applications, check your phone's Java application folder. NTT DoCoMo call them "i-appli", au call them "EZ-appli", and Softbank call them "S! appli".

Welcome

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Hello and welcome to this new blog. As the current extra-long title should hopefully suggest, this blog aims to be a foreigner's guide on the many weird and wonderful pieces of technological wizardry available in Japan.

While this blog does aim to be a comprehensive guide, it will not be an indiscriminate one. This is because the (currently extra-long) title includes the word "cool". Only cool things will be included in this blog. But what is "cool stuff"? Mainly, things currently available only in Japan, things so unique that the average traveller would have no clue how to operate, or things that would make a resident's life that much better - if only they could work out how to operate it.

Language is of course a big barrier in Japan, and with so little cool stuff available in English, you either have know the language quite well, or you have to know a native speaker. This blog aims to help those who have insufficient Japanese knowledge to operate cool stuff, although at least basic reading and writing abilities are very much necessary in any case. If you can read and write hiragana, katakana, and know a few kanji, you're all set.

I myself don't have a great knowledge of 日本語 - indeed I'm still very much a beginner and most of my friends in Japan know more Japanese than me. Even so, it's amazing what basic reading skills coupled with a bit of trial and error can achieve!

Suggestions for new guides are always welcome. However, please remember the subject matter of this guide: cool stuff! Useful gadgets, helpful services, fun games are all good choices. Visa applications, phone contracts and bank account registrations are not. Although very useful for anyone living in Japan, you'd be better off asking for help from experts. Besides, there are already plenty of guides on how to live in Japan - but none on how to live in Japan with cool stuff.

And that, in a nutshell, is "Guide On Using Cool Stuff In Japan For People Who Don't Understand A Lot Of Japanese".

(The current title is however a bit of a mouthful, so suggestions for that are equally welcome.)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 4.24-en