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Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012

News photo
J. League action: Kazuya Murata (left) of Cerezo Osaka and Urawa Reds' Tomoaki Makino attempt to swap shirts mid-match during a J. League clash in October. KYODO

LIFELINES

Sites for J-footy fans; variable service at Softbank


In response to our Oct. 23 column, " 'Prenups' uncommon but doable; aid for avid J. League fans," some of our readers wrote in with their favorite Japan soccer resources.

One popular suggestion was the Rising Sun News, a site that covers all aspects of football in Japan, which you can find at www.the-rising-sun-news.com/news.

Their Facebook page is also a place to connect with other J. League fans: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Rising-Sun-News-Soccer-in-Japan/212842035421446.

Barry recommended his blog about the Shimizu S-Pulse team. See UK Ultras (s-pulseukultras.blogspot.jp) for more.

He also wrote a (free) book about stadiums used by J. League teams and how to access them, which you can find here: www.blurb.com/books/3202141.

Other team-specific blogs that weren't included in our Oct. 23 column include:

• FC Gifu at www.fcgifu.blogspot.jp

• Mito Hollyhock at mitohollyhock.blogspot.jp

• Yokohama FC at yokohamashrimp.blogspot.jp

• Avispa Fukuoka at avispafukuoka.wordpress.com

• FC Tokyo at on-the-gas.blogspot.jp

• Albirex Niigata at orangeblue.blog.so-net.ne.jp

• Vissel Kobe at la-famiglia-di-vissel-kobe.blogspot.jp

In addition to the team-specific links above, Ken recommended English Blood, Osakan Heart (mabley.footballjapan.co.uk/), which he says is "more of a personal blog with comments, stories and interviews with people."

"The author also writes for Goal.com and cross-posts on occasion. His articles are always an interesting read," he adds.

And for those interested in Japanese women's soccer, check out Nadeshiko League News (nadeshiko-league.blogspot.jp).

Regarding our Dec. 4 column, "Softbank's policies on foreign customers hard to pin down," several readers sent in their experiences of trying to get a cellphone in Japan.

Sweeny easily managed to sort out a phone and contract after only six weeks in the country. "I went in with a friend who spoke more Japanese than I," he writes. "The guy who helped me basically said that it was a 24-month contract and that was that. I pointed at the contract I wanted and we had it all sorted in less than half an hour."

@Lorata also said that, in her experience, getting a phone is often painless, although she admits to having had some difficulties in the past. "Every ALT (assistant language teacher) who's come to my area has done the 24-month contract with a handset, no problem," she said. "They didn't want me to pay a lump payment for the handset. But I've definitely been told contradictory info and have been treated like an idiot sometimes when I repeated what they said.

"I'm just going by the website; I printed it off in English and Japanese and brought it in. They had to call the head office and it took a long time, but they gave in, annoyed. I've found that if I print things out they can't say no because it's right there."

Ren had some trouble despite having lived in Japan for several years: "I signed up for a phone at Softbank's Shibuya branch shop in 2010. Even though my visa was extended until 2013 and I have been a resident here since 2006, I was plainly told that because I am foreign, I must pay by credit card for at least three months (and that I could switch to bank transfer later).

"I felt like I was being put on probation because of my nationality or, that is, lack of Japanese nationality. After reading your article, I'm itching to find out which branches differ and where, and also why Softbank can't admit to what information they're scooping on their own customers."

As we mentioned in our Dec. 4 column, policies sometimes change depending on the store you visit, but Chai said that employees at the same store might enforce different policies, too.

"I went to buy my first phone here at Softbank while my visa was being renewed," Chai explained. "The first guy I talked to said he needed my passport for ID and since I only had my gaijin card on me, I ran back to get my passport. Back at the store a different guy helped me and told me that I would have to come back once my visa renewal was complete. He also said I would have to pay for the phone upfront, as I was only getting a one-year visa.

"Once I got my new visa, I went back to Softbank expecting to pay all at once for a new phone. However, the lady who helped me that day didn't even mention my visa. She didn't ask for my passport — just used my gaijin card and health insurance card for ID and set me up with the two-year contract. Took less than half an hour and she was very patient with my Japanese ability."

Ashley Thompson writes unique how-tos about living in Japan online at www.survivingnjapan.com. Send all your questions to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp.


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