Buying a Computer in Japan

Buying a Computer in Japan

Broken Laptop Screen

Broken Laptop Screen

I came home under the influence one night and I tried to start my computer or laptop to be exact. Unfortunately, it couldn’t start. I’ve been having this problem a few times now, but eventually it would somehow start up again with no problems. However, the night it wasn’t working happened to be a crucial moment in my life: Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors. Go Nets! Due to being under the influence and the frustration from my broken computer, I stupidly ended up punching my laptop screen. Although the computer was unable to start up already, there still may have been a small chance that it could possibly start up. Unfortunately, I completely cancelled out that small chance by destroying the laptop screen. With no laptop in my life, I needed to buy a new computer in Japan right away.

The first thing I did was do some research. Luckily, my girlfriend still had a working laptop (although I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone with wifi access, I would rather use a PC). So I go online and google “buying a computer in Japan” and I find out that there’s some problems that I might be faced with when buying a computer in Japan.

Problems with Buying a Computer in Japan

Computers sold in Japan usually come with a Japanese OS and Japanese keyboard. By Japanese OS, I mean that the operating system (Windows 7, 8, etc.) will be in Japanese. And by Japanese keyboard, I mean that the keyboard will be in a Japanese format. Turns out Japanese keyboards and keyboards in the rest of the world are different. Japanese keyboards have extra keys and the layout is different. Although the Japanese keyboards do have English, such as letters, written on it, just the fact that the layout is different will cause me some problems when I’m typing. I type pretty fast, but if the layout of the keyboard is different from what I’m used to, I’ll be typing the wrong keys. I have also heard that some stores offer the option of an English OS and/or keyboard, but it will end up costing a lot more. Another option is to buy a Mac from Apple, which has the option of having an English OS and keyboard. But Macs are just so expensive and I’m more of the PC user. So having a Japanese OS and keyboard might be one of the problems I’ll be faced with when buying a computer in Japan.

Another problem I might run into is the language barrier. Most of us know that the Japanese aren’t really good at speaking English, let alone speaking about technical stuff such as computers. Luckily, my girlfriend speaks Japanese and this was truly helpful in buying a computer in Japan. However, not everyone will have this option. But do not worry, I believe it’s still possible even without knowing any Japanese. I’ll explain more later.

Buying a Computer in Japan Online

If you want to buy a computer in Japan online, I recommend going kakaku.com.The website is in Japanese, but do not let it scare you. I’ll give you a brief guide on how to use it. So after going to the site, click on the link that says “パソコン”. It has a picture of a laptop or notebook to the left. Then scroll down a little and you’ll see icons of desktops, laptops, PDAs, and so on. Click on the laptop icon (or whatever you want to buy) and then you’ll see a list of the top 5 sellers. Below it is a list of all the laptops they have. Now, on the left you’ll see a list of filters which is all in English. Choose your brand, OS, CPU, display size, color, price range, and so on. After you find one you like, click on it and you’ll see the product description. For some products, you’ll see a list of prices offered by different vendors ranked from cheapest to most expensive. It’ll show you where the product is and what services they offer, such as shipping or in-store pick up. I won’t go deep into this, because you’ll probably need a translator for further information.

Buying a Computer in Japan Offline

Most people recommended going to Akihabara to buy a computer. As you may already know, Akihabara is famous for electronics. I’ve also read that there are some stores who have English speaking personnel. However, since I live near Shinjuku, and I didn’t want to go that far to buy a computer, I decided to just shop at Shinjuku. I had two places in mind, Bic Camera and Yodabashi Camera, two of the largest electronic retail stores in Japan. First I went to Bic Camera. I went to the floor where the computers were located and started looking around. They divided the sections by laptops and desktops. It further broke down into brand names. There were also some computers on sale that were placed in the front of the computer section. I had a game plan in mind already, so I didn’t need to talk to the attendants. Each computer model has a paper with a description of the computer details which are all in English, well at least the necessary parts such as the OS, CPU, RAM, etc. I couldn’t find something to my liking so I decided not to buy anything at Bic Camera. One thing I did realize is that computers in Japan are expensive! I thought it would of been cheaper, but I think computers in Japan are actually more expensive than they are in the United States. Anyway, the next stop was Yodobashi Camera so here we go.

At Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku, the computer area was on the first floor. The layout of the computers was similar to that of Bic Camera, where computers were categorized by desktops and laptops, and then by brand names. The prices here were expensive as well, but I think it was actually a little cheaper here than Bic Camera.

Buying Process

The model I wanted had three different pricings. This was because they had already planned out three different options you could choose from, of course the one with better parts being more expensive. However, I think this was done for the customers, who didn’t know much about computers, so that they could easily buy from just choosing 1 of the 3 options. I’m not a computer enthusiast, but I at least know some of the basics. So when I was ready, I called for an attendant and told them I wanted this model and this option. I figured I’d choose the cheapest option and work from there. What I mean by that is that you can customize your computer like you would if you were to buy from Dell online. So pretty much this is the part where my girlfriend helped, well, for the non-computer related parts. We needed to sign up for a points card if we wanted to take advantage of a sale that was going on and so we did or I should say my girlfriend did. So for the computer, the attendant handed me a list of customization options. Pretty much I could choose the CPU, OS, keyboard, amount of RAM, disk drive, display, etc. Each option also had the pricing to the side. It was exactly like buying a computer on the Dell website, but on paper. I wish they had this sheet out on display to begin with. Anyway, so yes I did mention OS and keyboard. I was able to choose an English OS and keyboard. The English OS didn’t cost extra but the English keyboard required an extra 1,080 yen. Not too bad in my opinion. But keep in mind, I chose Windows 8.1. I’m not sure if the English OS is available for previous versions of Windows. So that eliminated the OS and keyboard problem. I originally started from a price of about 63,000 yen and ended up with a price of about 82,000 yen. But because my girlfriend signed up for the point card, we were able to take advantage of the sale and the price was reduced by about 10,000 yen. So my total came out to about 72,000 yen or about 720 dollars. Tax and shipping was already included. I tried asking if foreigners get a discount because I read that some places offered it, but the attendant said there wasn’t. Oh well. Speaking of foreigners, I did overhear a female attendant speaking English to a few foreigners. Her English wasn’t good, but just the fact that she was speaking English means that maybe this could eliminate the second problem of buying a computer in Japan. After we were done with that part, the attendant read us some of the guidelines such as warranty and returns (or at least that’s what I think it was since my Japanese isn’t that good). Finally, the attendant took us to the cashier where I payed with my Chase Sapphire credit card which has no foreign transaction fees. Woohoo!

Shipping

Okay, this was probably the biggest setback. The attendant told us that shipping could take anywhere from 2-4 weeks. What the f***. I was seriously contemplating about just stopping right then and there, and this was after I was done customizing the order with the attendant. My computer broke so I needed a computer right away, which is one of the reasons why I went in person to buy a laptop from the store. If this was the case, I should of just bought a laptop online (or maybe online wouldn’t even have made a difference because that might of took 2-4 weeks to ship as well)! I understand that because I am customizing my computer, it’ll take some time, but not 2-4 weeks time! Dell only takes at most 1 week. Argh, this is going to be the hardest 2-4 weeks of my life.

Conclusion

In conclusion, buying a computer in Japan is not that hard and does not require the ability to speak Japanese. Maybe in the past, things were different which made it difficult to buy a computer in Japan due to the OS and keyboard. But I think now, the bigger stores will have the option of choosing an English OS and keyboard. Also, the bigger stores should also have staff who could speak enough English to help you with your purchase. The key thing to keep in mind is that shipping can take up to 4 weeks. So if your computer is broken or if you didn’t bring one to Japan, you’ll have to figure out something to do during those 4 weeks that you’re without a computer. I’ve listed the address of Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku below. I hope my experience of buying a computer in Japan will help those who are planning to buy a computer in Japan. Good luck.

EDIT (May 9, 2014): My laptop finally arrived. After waiting for a little over 2 weeks, it was finally shipped to my address in a box. Time to get busy! I already feel rejuvenated.

Bic Camera, Shinjuku
1-5-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023
+81 3-5326-1111

 

Yodobashi Camera, Shinjuku
1-11-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023
+81 3-3346-1010

Pasela Resorts in Shinjuku

Pasela Resorts. Never heard of it right? Neither did I until just a few months ago. After my first time going to it, I started seeing more and more it everywhere. The thing is, Pasela Resorts isn’t just one type of thing. It’s like an all-in-one. What I mean is, they have cafes, restaurants, karaokes, bars, ballrooms, and more. And on top of that, each location can have a different theme. What I mean is, there could be an anime-themed restaurant, tropical-themed sports bar, Egyptian-themed karaoke, etc. Pasela Resorts is pretty much a big chain of different themed establishments located all over Japan. Oh and the best part of Pasela is that it’s opened 24 hours!

Pasela Resorts Urban Oasis

Kahlua Milk with Pocky from Pasela Resorts

Kahlua Milk with Pocky from Pasela Resorts

However, for this post I’ll be talking about the Pasela Resorts Urban Oasis located at Shinjuku. For this day, we went to the karaoke venue. We went on a Friday night around 10:30PM for 2 hours, which is a busy time, so you can expect high prices. Luckily Japan loves to have all-you-can-drink options, so that’s we we did. But it still ended up coming to about 3,500 yen or 35 dollars per person. Although this seems like a decent price because the room fees are included as well, it isn’t because the drinks took forever to come. Everything is ordered with a remote. Other than songs being chosen through a remote, food and drinks are also ordered. Our drinks took about 20-30 minutes to come after being inserted in the remote. Because of that, we started ordering a lot of drinks at once. I personally ordered 5 drinks at one time for myself. But that didn’t help because then I’d be getting missing orders. What a rip off. Nah, nah, I don’t mean it. Next time, I’m going to just avoid the beers and cocktails and go straight for whiskey on the rocks. I probably won’t though because their cocktail choices sound so good. They have awesome flavors that you can’t find in the states.

Honey Toast Royal Milk Tea Flavor from Pasela Resorts

Honey Toast Royal Milk Tea Flavor from Pasela Resorts

Speaking about awesome flavors, even their food has a cool selection. For example, their Honey Toast. They actually have a Honey Toast Royal Milk Tea flavor. It was out of this world. This was probably the best Honey Toast I’ve ever had in my entire life. I also ordered an extra scoop of milk tea ice cream. If you’re going to order Honey Toast, don’t worry about eating beforehand because this will definitely fill you up.

Let’s talk about the room and the karaoke itself. The place was super nice and clean. Since it had an “urban oasis” theme, there was like music you’d hear from the Arabian Nights and the interior were all designed with an Arabian Nights theme. My girlfriend thinks that Pasela has the best and nicest karaoke rooms in all of Japan. I couldn’t agree more. The selection of music wasn’t bad at all. In fact, there were some classics that even the states barely had. However, they didn’t have up-to-date music, which is understandable because even movies take at least a few months before it’s shown in Japan. Other than no up-to-date music, the selection of music was kind of stupid. You could only choose music by the artist and song name. However, you could only choose it by the first letter. What I mean is that you had to of have the artist and/or song name in your head beforehand. So you could just browse through a list of artists or song names alphabetically. You had of known the artist and song name beforehand and search for it manually through the remote. This was kind of tough, because I usually don’t walk into a karaoke room with a list of the songs I want to sing prepared.

Overall, I think the pros outweigh the cons. Although a little pricey, this is Japan and going out and having fun is expected to take a blow to your wallet. Especially if you’re going to more than one establishment in the same night. The food, drinks, songs, and the room were to my standard if not better. I definitely wouldn’t mind going to Pasela Resorts again for karaoke. Definitely check this place out if you want to party. I’ve listed the address of the Shinjuku Pasela Resorts Urban Oasis location below, but unfortunately it’s in Japanese. I couldn’t find an English translation of it.

Pasela Resorts Shinjuku
1-3-16 Kabukicho, Shinjuku 160-0021, Tokyo
0120-706-733

Cherry Blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

It’s cherry blossom season here in Japan. Also known as sakura, cherry blossom is the name of a flower on certain type of tree. In Japan, the arrival of cherry blossoms signify the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Two days ago, my girlfriend and I went to view the cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. It costs 200 yen per adult and 50 yen per child. Because it’s cherry blossom season, there were a lot of people, so be prepared to stand in line. However, the lines moved very quickly so don’t let it scare you. If you want, you can come prepared by bringing a mat and food so you can have a picnic at the garden and enjoy the view. Keep in mind though, alcoholic drinks are not allowed inside the park and there is a search at the entrance. Also, remember to check the weather forecast the day you’re planning to go. We went on a sunny day and it was just fantastic. We literally walked for around at least 3 hours straight with no rest. The weather and view were just amazing. We actually ended up walking around the entire garden or park.

Apparently, there’s a greenhouse inside Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Inside there the greenhouse, there’s a many different types of plants so if you’re into plants, do check out the green house.

From here on, I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. Enjoy.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014
+81-03-3350-0151

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you enjoyed your Valentine’s day. My wife had to work today so we weren’t able do anything special. But it’s alright because I think what’s most important is that you spend quality with that special person. Although we didn’t do anything special, I tried to make the best out of the situation. I decided to cook dinner. It was my first time making bacon wrapped leeks and mushrooms, but I think it turned out okay. How does it look?


When my wife came home, she surprised me with chocolates (although I should have expected it, haha)! These were one of the best chocolates I’ve ever had. Not only was it bought with love, but it was really really good.

Valentine's Day Chocolates

Valentine’s Day Chocolates

Although our Valentine’s day was pretty simple, I think we made the best of it. It’s like the saying goes, “it’s the thought that counts, right?” How did you spend your Valentine’s day? Did you give someone something? Did someone give you something? Please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments. Peace.

Valentine's Day Chocolates

Valentine’s Day Chocolates

How does an American Citizen get Married in Japan?

I’m an American and wife is not Japanese, but she’s a permanent resident of Japan. She moved to Japan when she was in middle school and has been living in Japan since. She has the option of naturalization, but just hasn’t found the time to do so. We recently got married and I’ll explain how we did it below. But first, I think you should know that getting married in Japan is a little different from what you might be expecting. Usually getting married means having the ceremony and saying “I do” and have a party where you invite all your guests. However, the Japanese government doesn’t officially recognizes this as getting married. Actually, it’s a lot more easier to get married in Japan. All you have to do is fill out a paper and that’s it, you’re married. So how does an American citizen get married in Japan?

Steps for an American Citizen

  1. Download and print a blank affidavit form from the U.S. Embassy in Japan website. This form declares that you’re single and allowed to get married.
  2. After filling out the affidavit, you need to get it notarized. To get it notarized, make an appointment at the U.S. Embassy.
  3. Obtain a marriage form from your local city hall and fill it out. You’ll need 2 witnesses and their seals if they’ve got one. We ended up getting our form and had it stamped by our 2 witnesses before coming a second time.
  4. Go to your local city hall and get married with the filled-out application. Or you can go there with 2 witnesses and sign the form there. My local city hall was the Shibuya one. I went in and made a left and there was an attendant asking me what we were here for. My girlfriend, who can speak Japanese, told her and she was given a ticket with a number. We got called right away. The lady helping us pretty much just double-checked the papers to make sure everything was filled out. It took about 10-20 minutes. We were told it’d take about 2 hours for it the proof of marriage certificate to be finished. Yes, that certificate is what getting married pretty much means. We didn’t want to wait 2 hours so we paid to have it sent to our home. We were told it’ll take about a week. And that’s it!

    Shibuya City Hall

    Shibuya City Hall

Keep in mind that after receiving the proof of marriage certificate, you might want to get a translated version of it notarized. Download it from the U.S. Embassy in Japan website, print and fill it out, and make an appointment again to have it notarized. This translated version is important if you decide to one day return to the states and have apply for a spouse-visa for your spouse.

Steps for a Permanent Resident

So my wife is a Chinese citizen with permanent residency in Japan. What she had to do was similar to what I had to do. She went to the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo and had to obtain a document that declared she was single and able to marry. Unfortunately, this process took a week. And that’s it for her part. The rest was just going to the city hall, fill out the form, and get married. I’m assuming that a permanent resident would have to do the same thing by going to their own embassy. Every country has their own rules, so be sure to call to ask to be sure.

Steps for a Japanese Citizen

Visit the U.S. Embassy in Japan website for information what a Japanese citizen needs to do to get married.

And that’s pretty much how to get married in Japan. I was talking a to Japanese friend of mines, and apparently it’s common for Japanese people to get “married” and wait a year or two before having the wedding.

My main source for getting information on how to get married for American Citizens came from the U.S. Embassy in Japan website. So if you need more information, then please take a look at their website as I found it very helpful.