Calling to Japan:
There will be a telephone in each student apartment. The bill for local phone expenses is included in the JCMU housing fee. You may not make international calls from your room unless you use an international calling card. You can easily obtain an international calling card from the Lawson convenience store across the street, however, the instructions are in Japanese.
Calls made from the US to Japan (on either MCI or AT&T) are expensive, though they are generally cheaper than calls originating in Japan, so it is a good strategy when calling home to make a short call, and have your parents and friends call you back, if they do not mind.
Japan is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern Standard Time Zone during Daylight Savings Time (summer) and 14 hours ahead during Standard Time (winter). Family and friends may dial directly to reach students at the Center, by dialing the international access code (011), the country code for Japan (81), the area code for Hikone (749), the local exchange number (26) and 7 + the number of your room: 011 - 81 - 749 - 26 - 7 + (room number).
If you bring along a computer with speakers and a microphone, try downloading Skype, an internet calling program. You can buy “minutes” and use this program to call a telephone from your computer, or let others “call” your computer from their phones. This program is cheaper than a calling card because it uses the internet to carry the calls until it reaches its destination area, then only a local charge is issued.
Students in the past have been able to get Japanese cell phones using pre-paid options, however most cell phone companies in Japan no longer have pre-paid phone service. Getting a long term plan is a feasible option for academic year students, however students must have a Japanese residency card (this is issued at major airports when entering Japan on a long-term visa).
One option recent students have recommended is renting an international cell phone before leaving the US to use while in Japan. Those students recommend PicCell Wireless:
The Residence Hall and Academic Building are equipped with wireless internet technology, and all bedrooms have Ethernet ports. Students should bring their own Ethernet/LAN cable. Please be aware that the internet, wireless in particular, is slower than what you may be used to the States.
Internet access from the Center is a privilege and not a right. All personal computers must be registered, and students will be asked to observe JCMU computer policies as well as the proper use policies established at MSU (http://www.msu.edu/au/). Internet access may be limited under certain circumstances as determined by the Resident Director.