Technology Review: Cell phones in Japan

Japan leads with mobile phone technology and usage with about 75% of the population owning a cellular device. In Japanese mobile phones are called “keitai denwa” which means portable telephones. Cell phones in Japan are essentially used by everyone. The biggest mobile phone companies in Japan are NTT Docomo, au by KDDI, and Softbank (formerly Vodafone, and before that J-phone). Docomo is the most popular company with about 50 million subscribers. Au is next with about 30 million subscribers, while Softbank has about 15 million subscribers. As you can see Japan relies heavily on cellular communication. Cellular coverage is exceptional in Japan because cellular “cells” cover nearly every square inch of urban Japan and you can find service in areas you wouldn’t expect such as tunnels, subways and underground railways.

Japanese phones are unique in the way that they can read 2D barcodes known as QR codes. The phone handset can scan the barcode using its camera or other input, decode the information, and then take actions based on the type of content. The most popular usage of these QR codes is in advertising. All over Japan there are posters with the codes on and they are found extensively in magazines and even on some people’s business cards. The QR code usually has links to a web site address or email address that the phone can access, or it might contain address and telephone numbers.

Japanese cell phones are more technologically advanced and versatile than their American or European counterparts and as a result, are utilized in aspects that most cellphone users in the Western Hemisphere would only expect in Sci-Fi movies. Not only are they super lightweight and capable of displaying full color images on their LCD screens, but many offer built-in cameras for sending on the fly snap shots or even videos to your friends. Also, while web commerce has not yet caught on in North America, Japan has simplified the process to the extent that all one has to do is surf to one of the many e-commerce stores that are readily accessible, push a few buttons and the item will arrive at the consumers pre-selected destination of choice. The phone company keeps track of purchases and simply adds them to customers’ monthly bills. You can also download a wide array of games, can also check your e-mail, buy concert tickets and join an online dating service with your handset. Simplicity and a wide selection of products and services have helped account for making the mobile phone Japan’s most popular way of accessing the Web. Which is crazy to me that people prefer searching the web with their phone opposed to using a computer but maybe it’s because they like that instant access to the internet.

In Japan there are so many phones to choose from. Phones are so important there that not only is a cell phone a necessity in terms of communication and convenience but it is also an object of status. I just can’t wait for the day when some of Japan’s leading cell phone technology comes to the states.

Cleanest Place on Earth

Japan is so clean they feel their is no need to have trash cans on the streets. Which at times was real annoying because when I wanted to throw trash away I couldn’t because there was no trash can in site. It’s rare in the US to walk down the street and not see garbage on the ground but in Japan it would be weird to see garbage. I think in Japan they must pride themselves on cleanliness so that is why their is no garbage around. I wonder if there was ever a time when the streets were messy or has it always been clean. I feel bad for the homeless because there is no trash left for them eat off of. Even in the areas of Japan that were poor there still wasn’t trash around the area. These are the reasons why I believe Japan is the cleanest place on earth.

Last Night In Tokyo

For our last night all together in Tokyo we went to Shin-Juku. It was real nice and filled with shopping places and food joints all over. For our last group dinner our instructor decided to take us for Shabu-Shabu. It was similar to the Korean BBQ in the aspect that you had to cook your own food but different because you didn’t have to grill the food. It was a pot filled with broth and they gave us veggies to put in there and raw meat. They provided us with a bowl of rice to start off with. To cook the meat all you had to do was dip the meat in the pot for a min or so and it was cooked. Also they had different sauces for us to put on our food. It was a lot of fun. It amazed me how fast I could cook raw meat in a pot.

Japan’s Leading Transportation

In Japan most people take public transportation everywhere. So today we visited Japan Rail East which is leader in Japan’s transportation. They are Japan’s largest railway company. We learned a lot about how they are trying to make it easier for people to get from place to place. There working on making faster trains for more efficiency.  Also installing systems where people can print where they are trying to go and it tells them what trains to take. They had plenty ideas to improving their railway. Such as they want to establish a smart station. The smart station consist of smart space, personalized information, interactive terminal, security, and providing easy-to understand train status information. Also making interactive signs to show you which train is coming next and how close it to where you are located. They gave us a tour of the projects they are working on and also of the new shopping and train area they are trying to make.

Waseda University

Waseda University is one of the top private schools in Japan.  It is very prestigious and hard to get into. To get into this particular college there is a entrance exam in which most students study since grade school so they can pass the exam when the time comes for them to take the test. I found it interesting to learn that maybe 3,000 apply to the school but they only accept about 600 which just go to show it is very competitive to get in. I had the opportunity to meet students while I was there. They were very friendly and down to earth. I found it interesting how long some of them travel to school each day for many of them it’s a 2-3 hour ride. Most of the students I met were studying English. There school building was very plain compared to the buildings at Michigan State University. Also there campus was a lot smaller.

Tokyo Giants

The most exciting baseball game I have ever seen. I never knew how big baseball was in Japan until I had the opportunity to experience it first hand. The crowd was hype and they cheered on the team all the way throughout the game. Even though baseball is big in the US I don’t recall the audience being hype throughout the whole game. Tokyo Giants were an amazing team. When it seemed like the other team was going to come back that’s when Tokyo Giants went in for the kill. The game never had a dull moment. I never seen such an enthused crowd for baseball. Even if the team made an error the fans always showed their support. It gave me a new outlook on the game of baseball. To the Japanese baseball is like football or basketball for the US. I really enjoyed myself and was a little sad when the game was over.

Tea Ceremony

The tea ceremony is a very traditional ceremony in the Japanese culture. When you first enter you must remove your shoes before sitting for the ceremony. Then once seated they bring you treats. I did not really like the treats because they were way to sugary and tasted like playdoh. Next the lady who was in charge of the tea ceremony began to make the tea.  She made each person’s tea individually. When you received your tea you had to turn it to the left the cup then say a chant with her. It’s like a greeting for presenting the tea but also a thank you for receiving the tea. When it was my turn I forgot one of the sayings on accident. So I hope they weren’t too disappointed in me. Overall it was a great new experience and it taught me more about the Japanese culture. I was glad I got a first hand look at their different customs.

Food=smaller portions

Japan is not like America in the sense that they do not tend to overeat.  I noticed that everything is smaller portions. If you order chicken and fries in Japan you probably will get about only 12 fries and little pieces of chicken. They are very health conscious that is why most of the Japanese are not obese.  Most are very slim and I can see why. Although at first I was disappointed in the smaller portions it helped me to be more conscious in what I was eating and taught me not to overeat. You would be surprised that the smaller portion actually made me more full than eating as much as I usually would. It took a little while to get used to the small portions but after being there for a week I knew what to expect when eating. I believe if America could cut back just a little bit then our people will be better off and there will be less health problems.japanese food

Night Life in Tokyo

night lifeAt night you see all types of things going on Tokyo. There are several different people who try to attract you too things like clubs. You even see men dressed as rockers to get you too spend time with them and spend money on girls they promote. In Ropingi there were several Nigerians who tried to talk to the study abroad group. They wanted us to go to their clubs but that was not going to happen. So we just continued to ignore them. I must say it is real beautiful at night. It’s lit up and full of life and things to do. So we had no problem finding things to get into. On the strip there are several food places to try. They had a few American ones as well such as T.G.I Friday, and Hard Rock Cafe of Tokyo. Nightlife is a big part of Ropingi being that is one of the club districts in Tokyo.