Heidi-chan and the tale of the illusive cell phone

When I arrived in Japan I didn’t have a working phone. I also didn’t have the internet. That means I had no way of contacting anyone about anything. (Unless I used this thing, what is it? This…p…p…post office? Is that it?)

Although I often would gripe about my cell phone in the states, rarely check it, leave it behind, forget to charge it, etc, I was eager to get one here so I could actually make plans with people, contact my family, blah blah blah.

I figured this should be a simple enough task. Go to the cell phone store. Sign up for a plan. Pay a stupidly large fee for a dumb phone. The end.

Not so, as I was woefully informed. You see, in order to get a phone in Japan you have to prove that you are a resident here. Fine. Whatever. I’m a resident. I have a visa, I’m employed, I’ve jumped through all those excruciating hoops.

However, in order to prove you are in fact a resident, you must have a residence card. So one of the first things I did when I arrived here was to go to city hall to register. Thankfully I had a bevy of people helping me with these endeavors or most likely I would still be phone and internet-less. We went to city hall. I filled out some forms. They gave me my residence “paper.” This would act as a placeholder until my card came, but alone this paper wasn’t enough to prove to the cell phone company that I was here legally. I had to wait two weeks for that form to be further processed. I needed to receive my residence card in order to truly prove my existence in Japan was legitimate. Finally, after waiting almost two weeks, it arrived. Two employees from the Board of Education and myself went to SoftBank (the cell phone provider) to get a new phone. The following is the list of items needed to complete this transaction:

1. Residence card
2. Residence paper (remember, the one that was supposed to be just a place holder)
3. Passport
4. Custom card from arrival in Japan
5. New Japanese bank card
6. New bank book (bank book? Flashback to ’99)
7. US credit card
8. My hanko (a special stamp that has my name written in katakana that acts as a signature)

My hanko, custom made just for me with my name in katakana.

9. Insurance card
10. My library card (Just kidding—although I did ask if they wanted it. They didn’t get my joke.)

After almost two weeks of waiting for my residence card, and then what felt like another two weeks waiting at SoftBank for them to process my information, I finally had a new phone.

And here she is, in all her glory:

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