How to survive a day in Japan

Hey, today I want  to start a series of blog posts to put some focus on how to survive a day in Japan. What do you need and how you stay connected for pushing the most beautiful pictures to the world wide web.

Before we started our trip to Japan we thought about how to equip ourselves for exploring a city. Basically we tried to find solutions for:

  • Internet
  • Battery
  • Storage
  • Weather protection
  • Photography

Internet

Why do we start with Internet? Well, for us it was essential to survive. We used Google Maps to find out where to go, had our personal travelers guide stored in Google Drive and we used Google Translator in situations where we couldn’t understand anything. This means, without Internet we would have missed quite some nice places, we would have been lost in the bigger cities and we wouldn’t have found the one or the other nice restaurant.

Before we started our vacation we read a lot about how to stay connected in Japan. It doesn’t matter where you read about, most people state that it is very easy to get a mobile data connection. Still, we were a bit uncertain about how this will work out so we invested some time to make some of our tools offline-able.

Take Google Translator for example. You easily can download translation-packages for different languages. This allows you to make translations without any internet connection. Unfortunately only for the written ones. If you take a picture of a sign or a menu for example, you need internet connection for having Translator analyzing and translating the image.

Well, it was clear that we would need an internet connection. Our research said that you will find many free Wi-Fi in Japanese cities. And of course there is an App for this: Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi (Play Store). After you registered yourself you can simply touch the connect-Button and it will connect you to the nearest free Wi-Fi. Seems to be a very nice App – we didn’t use it at all; even though we used public free Wi-Fi in a few occasions.

For having a permanent Internet Connection you can buy a data-only Sim-Card in Japan. Actually you not have to buy it. You can rent it: for example here. Of course there are several offers out there. In most cases that I’ve found Sim-Cards have a data allowance which was a no-go for Bianca and me (as we knew that we will have quite a lot of data traffic). Additionally we would require more than one Sim-Card (at least one for each of us) and even in this setup I would have needed to use tethering for my Laptop to write all the blogs posts and so on. Doesn’t sound promising, right?

Luckily we’ve found the offer of having a Pocket-Wi-Fi without any data allowance criteria. Eventually we used this one. This gave us download speed of 75 Mbps and 25 Mbps for upload as well as the chance to connect up to 10 devices. Ideal for us.

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Image from http://www.deepjapan.org/

We rented the device for our full trip and when we arrived in our hotel in Fukuoka the device was already delivered.

During the time of use of the Pocket-Wi-Fi we experienced only a few issues with it. For example: it stopped working and required a restart. Nothing very urgent and super easy to fix.

When being outside we mostly used it for navigation and surfing (e.g. Yelp and other tools). As Bianca and I are playing PokémonGo we were excited to find the Asian-exclusive Farfetch’d – but we didn’t. But our Poket-Wi-Fi enabled us to play the game every now and then. Even in areas where we did not expect to have a proper connection we got surprised by the very good infrastructure in Japan. It seems that you will have a good internet connection everywhere where you find a vending machine – and you’ll find them everywhere!

In the evening the devices and the data-connection showed their full potential. I missed to find a nice app for exchanging the pictures taken via our Android Phones and my Mac. Thus we used Google Drive for sharing them. Bianca and me uploaded in the evening all images to a shared Drive. Afterwards I downloaded all of them on my Mac for using them in my blog posts. So we easily had Gigabytes of data being transferred via the data connection. And it worked like a charm!

Especially in the evening we mostly used my Mac to setup our plan for the upcoming days or for booking the next flat via AirBnb. For all of this we would have been limited via the public Wi-Fi or in number of devices to be used.

At the end of our Japan trip we had to put the device into the envelope that was part of the delivery and throw it in a mailbox. That’s it. Very easy to use. No extra costs. No effort at all. We threw it to the mailbox at the airport. So we made use of it to the very last minute.

I really recommend such a device if you need more than one device being connected to the world wide web.

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