This article covers the steps necessary to set up your email on a new Japanese SoftBank Prepaid phone. While simple to set up, there are a few extra steps that you might need to take to get the most from the service.
As a newcomer to Japan, you will need a new cell phone. The phone you bring from the US or elsewhere (yes, even “worldwide” phones), will not work here. One solution is to start out with the cheapest phone and the cheapest plan to get started. Later on, you can upgrade to a better phone.
In my case, I inherited an old SoftBank phone from a friend. After getting new SIM card with the Prepaid Plan it was ready to go.
Well, not quite. You have to set the language to English, which can be a challenge if you don’t speak any Japanese. Here are the steps:
- Dial 1400, then hit the little phone key. If you hear an English message, do nothing. The phone is already set to English so no change is necessary. If the message is in Japanese, proceed to step 2.
- Once the Japanese prompt is complete, press 3 to enter the Language Selection menu.
- Press 1 for Japanese, or 2 for English. There are no other choices, so it is hard to screw this up.
- You will be asked to confirm your choice by pressing the # key.
- Finally, press 9 to close the menu and hang up.
Your phone is now set to use English as the Voice Guidance language.
Make it a habit to dial the 1400 number regularly to check on the amount of your load and the expiration date. That’s through the same menu as above, but choosing option 1 at the first voice prompt. Now that your phone is talking to you in English, you can tell when you need to reload. If you reload before the expiration date, your unused balance will roll over. The standard reload is 3,000 Yen (about $37.00 at current exchange rates). If you talk so much that you need to top up more than once or twice a month, it might be time to invest in another plan.
So there you are, travelling happily around Tokyo, snapping great pictures with your cell phone’s built-in camera, hoping to send them to family and friends. How do you get the photos out of the camera and to the world? There are several solutions. These can range from buying a transfer cable (if your phone has that option), to buying an Infrared Adaptor for your computer (also known as an IrDA Adaptor), or you can simply email the photos.
After checking out transfer cables (not available for my model phone), IrDA Adaptors (mail order, long time, might not work), I picked the email option. This requires setting up the phone to send and receive emails. SoftBank phones don’t come pre-set for email service. The good news is that unlimited email (which includes attachments) is priced at a reasonable 300 Yen per 30 day period. That’s about $3.70 a month. The bad news is that the unlimited plan is limited to messages of 300 KB or less. Still, that is enough to get your photos transferred via email.
Here are the steps to set up your email service:
- Dial 1400 and wait for the voice prompt to finish.
- Enter 4 to select Email Service Settings
- Press 1 to apply for Unlimited Mail Service.
- Press # to continue.
- Once the activation is complete, you will hear the message “Your application is accepted. The maximum mail usage period is 30 days.”
So now you have unlimited email set up on your phone. The service will automatically roll over after 30 days, as long as you have 300 Yen left in your account. You can now email all of those photos to friends and family.
Note that the email account that SoftBank sets up for you is composed of random alphanumeric characters. So the “Sent From:” line in your email message will look something like this:
With a strange address like that, your friends and family won’t know it’s you sending and might reject your email. The email might also be caught in a spam filter and never seen again. So if you can’t find your messages, take a look in your spam folder.
In a future article, I will explain how to get a normal looking email address from SoftBank.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your phone will automatically name your photos with “Photo 001, Photo 002, and Photo 003…” At least that’s what my phone does. After emailing the photos, I clear out my phone’s memory to make space for more photos. Therefore, the sequence starts again. You should be careful when downloading your received photos from your email account so that a newer photo won’t overwrite an older photo with the same name. To avoid that, you should immediately rename your downloaded photos as soon as you receive them.