Japan- Open for Business

Tourists to Japan- On The Rise

It’s 2017 and Japan is open for business and in the midst of a historic tourism boom.  164 years ago it was different- no foreigner or Japanese for that matter could enter or leave the country on penalty of death.

Today, by and large, tourists are welcomed, though they do ask a lot of annoying questions and why can’t they all speak Japanese anyway? Tut tut.

From Keeping Foreigners Out to Reeling Them In

The former policy- known as Sakoku (a country in lock-down) ,while popular for a while with the locals, ended in 1853 when the U.S Navy arrived with gunboats demanding Japan open up for trade with the West- and in so doing planting the seeds for a future tourism industry.

By 2016 Japan had recorded 24 million overseas visitors. In 2015 alone the jump in overseas visitors was a whopping 47%! The emergence of low-cost airlines, relaxation of visa regulations and the growth of China have all helped fuel this tourist boom but is Japan ready?

Is Japan Ready for Tourists?

Sadly for the Japanese 99.9% of the 24 million who visited did not have specialist language degrees in Japanese and while they posted images of road signs and restaurant menus on Instagram 99.9% had no idea what they were actually posting.

Tourists are somehow managing – the use of personal blogs, social media and review sites as a source of pooled information for communicating experiences in Japan is helping but also highlighting the need for multilingual information and better WiFi provision.

The Hi-Tech Land of Technology …no Free Wi-Fi?

Free Wi-Fi is not easy to find in Japan. Period. Unless you want to spend your time in Starbucks and McDonalds you are going to have to accept hat one of the world’s leading high-tech society’s does not do Free Wi-Fi. In fact in 2015 only 10% of all Wi-Fi access points were free – most required monthly subscriptions.

For most people until until quite recently expensive airport rentals of SIMs and phones were the only option but with tourist numbers growing so too have your options. But don’t think it’s as simple as grabbing a prepaid SIM and packing your travel bags. Another government survey in 2015 found that while 28.6% of visitors to Japan intended to buy SIMs only 13.2 % did. So what put them off…paperwork. excess complications ,etc ..*but you do know we are going to give you the solution, right? Read on!

Japan- A Land of Timeless Charm

While Japan was closed to the world it’s Samurai became bureaucrats and paperwork became a national past-time.

Samurai Bureaucrat?

Japan modernized while all the time keeping its timeless charm and old traditions never died or changed slowly. That might help explain why the Japanese still use fax machines, VHS tapes, single glazing windows, long-drop toilets and why it can take up to 2 hours to sign a contract phone as a resident to get through all that…you guessed- paperwork. I’m getting excited at this point so let me tell you why I really wrote this article!

Kaikoku- Connecting You to Japan in Japan!

“Kaikoku” (Opening of Japan) is a policy of ours at Mobal. While we may not harbour ambitions of total domination we will be quite satisfied if we can make your trip to Japan infinitely easier by helping you avoid the following pitfalls! (your fears are real!)

  • having to sign a 2 -year contract with a termination fee. That would be tragic really especially if you only planned to stay 2 weeks!
  • having to rent a phone with daily rental fees even if you don’t use it- oh- and don’t forget to return it or those penalties will get you- read the paperwork 😉
  • having to change your status from a tourist to a resident just to get a Japanese phone number- oh and if you find as a resident you can’t use your own country’s debit/credit card at least you know you’re not alone
  • English customer support- we made that up- doesn’t exist. Learn Japanese- so much less pain.

A Japanese SIM For Everyone- Banzai!

It’s 2017. Mobal have cracked it with the Japan SIM Card – a SIM Card for your smartphone that offers Unlimited Data, Free Incoming Calls & Texts and Free Worldwide Shipping. It’s available for anyone and you can actually pay using your own country’s debit or credit card.

Whether you need it for 15 days, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or forever you can have it- just buy it. No paperwork- you get an online account and you get connected.

Is that so unusual?

YES! Because until that point a non-resident in Japan (that’s every tourist by the way) didn’t have a choice.

Now I think I’ve answered the question – is Japan ready for the next part of the tourist boom which is forecast to pip 40 million visitors in the next few years?

It is now. Click to release your pain



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