Japan Trip Feedback Based on OzBargain's Deals and Suggestions
A while ago, there has been many Japan related deals and information such as:
- NTT Docomo Japan Welcome SIM (LTE/3G) and Wi-Fi: XL 2GB 20-Day Plan JP ¥1950 / AU $23.70 (JP ¥1000 off) + View Ads for More Data (https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/415094)
- Citibank Global Account and Transferwise - For those who are intending to use them (https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/423098)
- KKday Osaka Universal Studio Tickets (https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/403352)
I am here to provide feedback on my recent trip and responding to the above threads as I said I would.
Firstly, the NTT DoCoMo 20 day plan at JP ¥1950 for 2Gb was EXCELLENT. It came with access to NTTDoCoMo wifi hotspots which are essentially all available in 7-Elevens iHoldings convenience stores I visited. Using these hotspots don't count towards the Gb allowance. Never experienced drop off and worked everywhere even in Shinkansen where local wifi within the train is either non-existent or patchy at best. The price was excellent for 2Gb because if you buy over there, it would cost a lot more for less GB and less than 20 days. Furthermore, if you watch ads/short videos ranging from 2 to 5 minutes about Japan anyway, you can get up to 440mb bringing it to 2.44Gb.
As a suggestion if you travel long, try to use this sparingly and use like Bic Camera's wifi or 7-Eleven or your hotel's wifi as 2Gb is not a lot. Please also note, 20 days is literally 20 days down to the AM/PM so if you activate on 1 Jan at 2pm, it will become unusable literally after 20 Jan at 2pm.
Secondly, Citibank Global Account and Diners Club won BIG over HSBC Global Currency Account. Diners Club are literally accepted everywhere I visited except USJ and Mos Burgers (They accept 28 Degree Mastercards). Their rates are better up to 2-4 Yen vs Cash. If you have Citibank Global Account YEN account, then you do transfer from your Global Account AUD to YEN in seconds using internet and that YEN account is accessible in Japan immediately.
Transfer from AUD to YEN is instant and has BETTER rates than Transferwise (marginally) after fees unless you transfer like 100,000 YEN but in any case, you cannot use TransferWise to prop up your Citibank YEN account as Transferwise does not do SWIFT transfer to YEN (only USD). So hooray for Citibank.
Diners Club has better rates than 28 Degrees Mastercard. I compared this in my unbilled statement. I don't know why since they both Mastercard.
In Japan, ONLY 7 Eleven ATMs will give you money for free. UMFG, Mizuho, and JapanPost will ask you somewhere between 108 Yen or 216 Yen fee for withdrawal. With 7 Eleven stores everywhere in Japan, travelers should not have problem with fee-free withdrawal. Did not try SMBC Prestia and Bank of Yokohama. E-Net in Family Mart stores for some reason did not work.
So use Credit Cards if possible unless it dropped sharp like it did a week ago in which case, use cash. Do NOT forget to switch the Global Currency Debit Card to YEN before you depart otherwise, it will use AUD account instead of YEN.
You cannot use credit cards to buy Japanese Itunes / Nintendo Cards. They are called POSA and only cash can be used to buy them. You cannot use credit card to top up Pasmo/Suica but you can use credit cards for shinkansen or limited express rapit trains.
Thirdly, KKDay USJ that were available the other day, there were fears the vouchers may not be usable at the time. Fear not as it did work with no problem. Just need the same thing for Disneyland/Sea.
Otherwise, it is interesting to note that:
Japan Rail Pass does not need to start immediately on your arrival date. You can choose when to start and cram your long distance days within those validity period. I counted 7 days are the only ones that are worth having if you cram long distance trips.
Pasmo/Suica trips are cheaper than having to buy the tickets from vending and travel that way. Example. A 200 Yen trip on vending becomes 195 on Pasmo/Suica.
Children under 6 are free to travel in public transport so Shinkansen trips are free for under 6s and they are mightily expensive.
Almost everything in Japan is more expensive vs Australia except food (limited to Yoshinoya/Matsuya/Sukiya), Uniqlos/GU (see below), and arcade games.
Uniqlo has a little brother called GU and they are cheaper than Uniqlos and Uniqlos are already cheaper.
Each stores in Japan even in the same state (Tokyo) have different price on the same thing. Zojirushi flasks are found cheaper in one Bic Camera vs others.
So many flavours of condoms and they are prettily packaged.
Hope this helps our fellow OzBs when in Japan. Any more tips are greatly appreciated as I intend to revisit Japan again.
TLDR: Japan is fantastic! Use credit cards, less cash but if need cash, use Citibank Global Currency YEN and take money at 7 Elevens for fee-free withdrawal. KKDays deals are awesome and NTTDoCoMo Wow Japan Sim is great despite many Ozbs saying they are crap. Under 6s are free to travel on PT, buy lots of Uniqlos and visit GU first before Uniqlos. Don't buy electronics in Japan except non-western released games (and "dating-sim" games). Use Pasmo/Suica for slightly cheaper travel. Eat at Matsuya/Yoshinoya for maximum savings. JR Pass should be calculated thoroughly before buying. Japanese condoms are pretty.