The End of the Dark Ages

The long wait is finally over, we have the internet!

Not that blogable whatnots are going to get more interesting I’m afraid. With this pending exam and my future hanging in the balance, studying has taken up the vast majority of my time here. Saying that, in these last few days I’ve been less active, finding myself getting easily distracted by the wild antics of the animals outside; the magpies, squirrel and cat. Top this off with a swollen index finger (caused by excessive studying I say) and a constant need to walk across town to buy orange juice from Tesco (I could go to a closer Sainsbury’s Local but I’d be paying an extra quid for the same amount of juice), and I’m left with a situation where things could go tits up very quickly.

That being the case, you could easily think that me getting the internet at home is a bad thing as it will lead to more distractions and procrastination (such as writing this blog entry). But thing is, I already had access to the internet from home as we JUST reach the university’s wireless connection. However that comes with a couple of conditions. First of all I can’t go on any website because sometimes certain sites aren’t “appropriate for a university” (like the BBC … ooh … so raunchy). Secondly the signal is weaker than Goldfish Scooping paper, so you keep disconnected at crucial moments like trying to find the reading of a Japanese character because none of your dozen or so textbooks have the foggiest. And the main pain in the arse is how you get online. In order for me to access the internet, I had to have my laptop on a small table next to my chest of drawers facing a wall, and I had to be crouched on hands and knees on top of the drawers. Not ideal.

The internet itself we got a really good deal on. It’s with O2, meaning we had to have a BT landline. Originally we were going to go with Virgin, but since we were outside of their fibre optic zone we could only get their £30 odd pound a month plan (internet and phone) with speeds of up to 3 Meg (don’t be fooled, that’s Megabits NOT Megabytes). Virgin also seem to have a nasty habit of telling all their new customers that unless they already have a BT line then they would be charged £120 (ish) by BT for a new line. This isn’t the case. You only need to pay that if your phoneline has been completely disconnected, and apparently that only happens if the line goes unused for around a year or so. Easy way to check is to stick a phone in the socket and see if you have a dial tone. If you have the tone, chances are very high you don’t have to pay.

Cheeky virgins. *chuckle*

Anyway, O2 do their home broadband in the form of a ‘Takeaway Box’ which you buy from a retailer after checking how the coverage is in your area, for £30. On one particular day however, during a promotional period when the box was only £15, a member of staff at the Carphone Warehouse offered to just give me one for free. Being a very scepticle and untrustworthy person I had to know where the catch was, but there wasn’t one. Just by having a box (which comes with the router etc) doesn’t comit you to anything, and you can take it back within 30 days if you change your mind. So I wander out of the shop with a £30 piece of equipment and a rather confused expression on my face.

This is where the deal gets really good. When we signed up for O2 we were given two treats. The first was a promotional 2 months free, and the second was a credit on the account for £30 for the price of the box (of course I didn’t mention I was given the equipement free). The package we’re on costs £12.23 a month, or if you are an O2 mobile customer (even PAYG if you top up £10 every 3 months) it’s £7.34. I’m a vodafone man due to a free calls offer with the family, but O2 give Sim Cards away on their website, and I’d certainly top up that much for the sake of cheaper internet. All in all this means that with the exception of the BT Line Rental of £12 (ish) a month, we’re getting our first 6 months free (12 month contract).

But wait, there’s a little bit more. O2’s free simcards also come with a range of offers on them and one of them caught my eye; O2 Your Country. With this offer, if you top up over a tenner in a month you get free international calls. Given that I’d be doing this every three months, I could use those calls to get in touch with friends in Japan and say hi. And that’s exactly what I did the other day. Just after it rolled past midnight I was on the phone to a very, VERY shocked Japanese friend of mine was really wasn’t expecting a phone call at breakfast time.

And so there we have it. I really didn’t mean to sound like an advert for O2, but let’s face it they’re not bad. That being said, this is only day 1.

3 thoughts on “The End of the Dark Ages”

  1. Hi, well, i can’t find a good place to post n ask you this, so i’ll post here… Actually, I wanna ask if there is any good Anime shops around Nipponbashi DenDen Town at Osaka.

    Cause I’m going there at the from 24-30 sept… at Osaka… For Anime, Figure, CD and PsP hunting. LoL
    Can you email me the places that I can shop for these in DenDen Town?

    BTW, where can I buy the Cheapest PsP there? Can I bring it back to my country without tax on airports?

    Can you help me in this please? I really need the info of i’ll go totally Lost.
    (not good at japanese too. Broken Japanese)

    1. Hey Shinra_1989,

      Nipponbashi was by far one of my favourite places in Japan so I hope you also get as much out of it as I did (and I don’t just mean anime etc). Though not as big (or so I’m told) as Tokyo’s Akihabara, the Nipponbashi and Denden Town is still pretty huge with an absolutely massive range of anime shops, manga stores, model shops etc etc. I couldn’t really be fair and say ‘This shop is the best’, ask each shop his its own stock type (new/used), price range and of course stock availability, and on numerous occaisions when looking for a specific something I was running the whole area looking for the best deal.

      I will point out a couple of shops that I loved though.

      First of all the A Too Recycle Shop. An awesome second hand shop which has everything you could want (anime, manga games etc) both new and old spread on a range of floors. Beware though, the higher the floor the more ‘risque’ the product. This was also where I bought my cheapest manga and a mere 10 yen, though that section is pretty small.

      Next is this Softmap. You’ll find a few Softmaps around, but for some reason we found this one had the better offers on games, though it was a little further to walk.

      Another store for Games & DVDs would be GEO. Again bargains on many floors.

      Melonbooks and a lot of smaller shops in the area sell a lot of doujinshi. Not only of the adult variety, but also some calm stories you’d be happy to show your nan. This is also the area you’ll see maids trying to get you to go to their (pretty expensive, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing) cafes.

      As far as cheap PSPs go, I’m afraid to say that I didn’t find one that was particularly cheap but I found one that was a fair price, though I can’t remember which shop. There’s a common misconception that a lot of electronics, games, DVDs etc are cheap in Japan but I’m afraid it’s not always the case, especially when it comes to DVDs. I always thought anime DVDs were expensive here in the UK (eg Naruto Unleashed 1:1 being £15 new) but in Japan it is often the case where 2nd hand DVDs were over £30, so although there are bargains out there try not to have your hopes too high. As for airport taxes, well I have no clue about that. I know you’re allowed a certain limit through customs depending on where you travelled from/to, but you’d need to contact your flight operator beforehand.

      One last bit of advice. In second hand game shops you’ll often find boxes put out with this written on it 売り切り (うりきり, urikiri). It means that the item is sold out, so try to remember this before you take any boxes with it on to the till (that’s how I learned). Hope this has helped and if you want/need any more advice feel free to get in touch again.

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