I will admit, Japan is insular and will always be. In spite of the influx of foreigners and international businesses, the Japanese maintain the thought process that Japan is for the Japanese and no one else. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. However, in this generation, the world is getting smaller and people want to move and do business where they want to and can.
Fortunately, some places have opened their eyes to the dilemmas many foreigners face when coming to the Land of the Rising Sun. The first is housing and business-establishment. Second, jobs. Third, technology. The businesses I’m going to introduce you to today have done a very good job at attracting gaijin en masse by providing services solely for us.
I’ve already mentioned in another blog (HERE) about resources like Gaijinpot and Kimi Information Center for housing. Underlying the endless prospective homes is the fact that 9 times out of 10 you’re going to need a guarantor; and if you don’t have a Japanese pal to bail you out, you might be screwed.
So, there’s a company called Global Trust Network (hereby referred to as GTN) which provides you a guarantor signature on your fancy lease. GTN is fantastic. They will call you at the time of application for your house to ask some questions about your goals and give you the low down on how to set up your new life. Afterwards, you are assured that should you need anything, feel free to call them.
GTN also offers overseas remittance —a lifesaver in times of financial harships—for a low cost. Recently, they also started GTN Mobile, a phone service with cheaper international calling rates. Right now, there are only two shops. The first is in Shin-Okubo. The other is in Ikebukuro. You can bring your cell phone from wherever you’re from and simply purchase their SIM card, which piggybacks NTT Docomo. Or, if you’re like me, you can buy a SIM free phone from Big Camera or LABI and take it to them. While the website and pamphlet can be misleading and make you think you can buy from their stores, you can’t. Just be aware of that.
Additionally, if you ever have a problem with your phone, the help service is either in Japanese or English. The English speaking assistant who aided me when my mobile data went amuck was fluent, so there was no miscommunication and my issue was resolved immediately.
I’ve had no issues with the network since then and am satisfied with the pricing. Again, you can find all the information on their website: Global Trust Network.
Next, allow me to introduce Shinsei Bank (English site). What a boon. Seriously, if you type ‘best bank for foreigners in Japan,’ there is endless testimonials of how great Shinsei is. You don’t need a signature stamp, first of all. You do need a residence card and phone number. Plus, you can get fully English services at the major branches, like Shinjuku or Roppongi. That said, when I was making my account, the representative was not very comfortable with English and so when I started answering her in Japanese, she automatically switched over without realizing it and later thanked me for letting her do that. Basically, where some banks won’t allow overseas remittance, deposits of varying currency, or even for direct deposit because you’re a foreigner, Shinsei does.
Be sure to have your My Number handy, too. A new policy was enacted to make it necessary.
If you’re American, you have to sign an I-9/W2 form so that Shinsei can report any income you make to the United States IRS. Yay, Uncle Sam is watching you!
Regardless of that, the online banking can be done fully in English. Getting the account started is a bit of struggle because of all the security checks you need to pass through. However, you don’t have to worry about someone hacking into your account. Transferring money is swift and more or less painless. Plus, the banking cards come in an array of colors if you’re into customizing something you’ll hardly ever use. There are dozens of Shinsei ATMs scattered across Japan. You are never, ever without money.
AsahiNet provides low cost internet to just about anyone within a serviceable area. And if you know a friend, like me, you can get a super sweet discount when applying—5000-yen worth! Use the code bw2v-tylr when applying at http://asahi-net.jp/en/friend/ . Most of the time, AsahiNet is also running campaigns like ~months free of charge or a free tablet with the purchase of a certain service.
Whatever internet you’d hope to get, FLET’s Hikari, B Flet’s, ADSL/VDSL, BB Entry, WiMax2+, or even the AsahiNet LTE SIM card, you can apply in English on the website or in Japanese. The choice is yours. When they find out what languages you can speak, namely English, you will receive a message in English, guaranteed. Also, you will need a credit card to sign up, but it doesn’t have to be a Japanese credit card like some ISPs want you to have.
Rated #1 in customer satisfaction, AsahiNet is prompt to respond to questions when you have them. By phone or by email, they will be sure to get back to you and answer any questions you have, even ones you haven’t thought of yet. When I applied for the WiMax2+ service, I sent an email asking for confirmation (because I’d used my phone), and within 30 minutes AsahiNet had replied. Two days after that I got my information envelope in the mail with everything I’d need to set up my router.
My router arrived literally right when the representative said it would: on the 19th. Set up for my wi-fi was a bit puzzling. Follow the directions exactly. Once you have it, the service is super reliable and fast. It might not be 1 Gbps, but I get over 500 mbps when downloading and exceed 250 mbps uploading, which is faster than what the website said I’d get.
And so, I’d like to introduce you, dear reader, to AsahiNet. Please use this code: bw2v-tylr when you apply by phone (#03-6631-0861) or online at http://asahi-net.jp/en/friend/ to get yourself 5000-yen and wonderful internet service. The application is quick, easy, and if you order WiMax2+, you should get your parcel within 2-3 days. Installation of FLET’s Hikari and other DSL systems will take longer, no matter who your ISP is. If you’re getting Hikari or DSL, I recommend having it set-up ahead of time if you can, because if you don’t, you’ll be waiting a good month or so.
That’s all for today. As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a question or comment. I’ll be happy to reply!