Since I still really wanted to go to Shinjuku to shop, Tina agreed to go as well. She needed to go back to the Softbank in Ikebukuro to pick up her iPhone, though. Ikebukuro Station, however, is humongous and we couldn’t decide on a place to meet, so I just decided to go to Ikebukuro with her again instead of meeting her on the way to Shinjuku.
We took the express train this time, which got us to our destination in less than half the time from our last trip to Ikebukuro (30 minutes and opposed to an hour and 30 minutes). At the Station, though, we got caught up looking at super cheap (made in China) clothes. They were on sale for ¥500 to ¥3000! I ended up buying a neon green mesh top and a white tunic dress for ¥1500. So cheap!
Then we headed to Softbank. Tina knew the way well, so we didn’t get lost this time. She got a good deal on her iPhone, a free case, and a free screen protector (and they put it on perfectly for her – no air bubbles at all!). We made a quick stop at the McDonald’s near the station to check out the prices – they have a small $1 menu than back in the States. And I noticed they have a matcha oreo sundae! Definitely getting it next time, even if the price is a little high.
We saw a Bic Camera (an electronics store that is basically a store that has representatives and phones from all the cell phone companies in Japan: au, Y! Mobile, Softbank, Docomo) of when we left the station for Softbank, and I wanted to go to check out their cell phones. That ended up taking a solid two hours, since I actually signed a 2 year contract and got a phone.
Had a lot of questions, and of course, my Japanese is horrible, so Tina did most of the negotiating and talking for me. You should’ve seen when she left to buy a bottle of water across the street. The Softbank employee who was helping us, Shimada, went absolutely silent. I felt pretty bad. My conversation skills are lacking.
He was super nice though. and it was funny when he accidentally pressed a button on his iPad leading out of the screen with all my information/the contract on it. He had to start all over again and we joked around with him. It was also nice how I got a contract close to what my friend who studied abroad last year got. It apparently isn’t heard of, and usually Softbank is tough on who it approves, but I got the deal anyways because Shimada was willing to try. I paid about ¥3400 for the phone, at ¥1300 per month, with a ¥10260 cancellation fee. I got the flip phone I wanted (in pink, although in hindsight, the gold one was nice, too…) and a Japanese phone to practice super fast typing with. Currently, I am horrible at handling the phone (it’s all in Japanese, too, although there is an English version I can change it to) and texts take five times as long as they should, but hey, I’m working on it. Also, interesting factoid, these types of cell phones in Japan do not come with the charger. I had to buy mine separate for ¥980 ish. Tina tried to get it for free, but Shimada insisted that that would be the end of him (especially after he gave us that deal). He, instead, gave us both free Softbank dog cell phone straps. So adorable! You can see the strap in the pictures above.
Annnnnnnd then it was 4 p.m., but we decided to go to Shinjuku anyways, which was only about a 7 minutes train ride (one stop away from Ikebukuro Station). Shinjuku was super crowded, though it was a holiday. We went inside the nearest building/mall next to the station, and found ourselves faced with too-expensive clothes. Tina saw a bunch of people crowded on the bottom floor, so we went there and found ourselves in a GAP store. People were getting coupons from Lucky Boxes employees were holding right outside. Usually, people got a 50% off coupon, but just my luck, I got 40%. Oh well, I don’t like GAP that much anyways. I was surprised how popular it seemed to be in Japan, though. Basics are pretty popular.
Tina and I couldn’t find anything we could afford or that we wanted, so we walked out and went to another mall (I think it was Lumine Est), which contained a bunch of small boutiques.
The shops were nice and all – and I really loved their clothes – but I could not afford anything. I’m not willing to pay ¥2900+ for one piece of clothing (and sale prices in Japan are usually around ¥1900). Oh, the cute things were all about ¥4900-¥6900, too. Something I noticed: Japan seems to sell clothing in advance of the season; thus, it’s hard to find clothing for summer in the summer. Also, since I couldn’t afford anything, I wish I brought fashionable clothes instead of throwaway clothes from home (trench/peacoats are in – even in the summer).
My favorite store was called evelyn, which carried a lot of cute, girly clothing (by cute I’m referring to the style, too. Lots of skater skirts with flower prints, pastels, baby doll tops, and peter pan collared shirts).
I really wanted something from there – so I settled for the pamphlet showing the new styles for autumn.
We visited a couple of other stores, too, but I don’t really remember the names. I actually just wanted to hurry out of there since I couldn’t buy anything and I felt super underdressed. Everyone in the building dressed up nicely, in skirts, dressed, or high-waisted jeans. Of course, their makeup was also impeccable. I thought I had decent style, but no, I really don’t. Tokyo puts America to shame.
Tina and I still attempted to find a place where we could buy clothes, so we wandered into the Bic Camera x UNIQLO store and found cheaper prices. But, in my book, still expensive. The only thing relatively cheap I found was a shirt for ¥790. And I still didn’t buy it. Since we had no idea where to go and didn’t feel like we could find anything we would be able to buy, we decided to go back to Hiyoshi. At least we got to see the giant crab thing that seems to show up in pictures a lot!
So, we headed home. At least we got clothes from Ikebukuro Station! And I got my lovely cell phone 🙂
For those thinking of going with Softbank, I think I heard they’re the best for foreigners, but I know of some people who just bought SIM Cards and data. They got theirs at Yodobashi Camera. Data is super expensive in Japan – for Softbank, about ¥4200 a month, but you can survive with just data, since most people use LINE for texting and calling nowadays (it’s an application for free messaging and calling, not unlike kakaotalk, viber, wechat, skype, or whatsapp). Docomo has the most coverage (like, my international data plan back home uses NTT Docomo here), but it’s more expensive. Softbank also offers free calling and texting to other Softbank phones from 1 a.m. to 9 p.m. Otherwise I believe it’s a ¥10 charge for a minute of calling and ¥3 per text. Docomo and Softbank are the two companies that exchange students use the most.
I, personally, would recommend bringing a smartphone with an international data plan, or that is unlocked so you can buy a SIM card and data. Just be aware that SIM cards alone can be difficult to find. I also recommend just bringing someone’s used Japanese phone. Go to one of the students who studied abroad in Japan before and ask to borrow their phones. It saves money. I would’ve done that, but I forgot. My smartphone that I brought with me also isn’t unlocked, and, according to Tina, employers may need to call your cell phone, so if you intend to do a part time job while you’re abroad, a cell phone might be better than just using LINE.