Emergency phone calls
- If you’re on base, at a landline, dial 911 to get the Yokota ambulance.
- If you’re on-base dialing from a cell phone, call 042-552-2511 (STORE THIS IN YOUR CELL PHONE NOW!) to get the base switchboard, then dial 911.
Itching to get a cell phone?
The major carriers are Softbank and DoCoMo, plus AU. They offer comparable two-year contract plans, with per-minute charges in addition to the monthly fee.
Softbank is in the Yokota Community Center, down the hall from the Commissary. It was the sole official iPhone carrier until AU jumped into the game with the iPhone 4s. An iPhone contract in Japan runs $50 to $90 a month. If you want to save some yen, consider a prepaid plan. Softbank and AU have them. They allow you to purchase a cheap phone and buy minutes — online or at a convenience store — as you need them, with no monthly payment. This is an inexpensive route for people who don’t talk much – or who answer but rarely dial. (In Japan, only the caller pays. Receiving calls is always free.)
Amazon, we’ve read, will soon be offering prepaid phone service on SIM cards. The cards will work in DoCoMo phones, and maybe in American cell phones, too. (The phone, though, has to be of the kind that takes a SIM card. So AT&T phone and T-Mobile phones should work if they’re unlocked. Verizon phones won’t.)
Prepaid phone service is fairly rare in Japan. Even rarer, though, is prepaid phone service that includes mobile Internet. Most carriers don’t offer it. But everyone offers texting, and in Japan the service is far more valuable than it is in the U.S. That’s because in Japan texting isn’t limited to cell phones. You can send texts from your phone to email addresses, and people can send emails to your phone. With Softbank’s prepaid service, you can add texting for a flat ¥300 a month.
If you don’t require the latest model phone, you can often find used Softbank prepaid phones on www.YokotaAds.com and Yokota Swap. The major drawback to Softbank is reception. It is generally believed that DoCoMo and AU have a stronger, more reliable signal.
The people at the Softbank store in the YCC can explain all their plans to you in English, of course. On the web: http://mb.softbank.jp/mb/military.
For DoCoMo, you can pick up an English services guide at one of its shops. There’s one in central Fussa with designated English-speakers on staff.
WALKING DIRECTIONS to DoCoMo in Fussa: Go out the Fussa Gate, cross one set of tracks and stay left at the “Y”. Keep going straight as you cross another set of tracks. Turn left at the next light, onto Rt. 29. (Beware: Several streets in the area are labeled 29.) The DoCoMo shop is about a block and a half from the light, on the corner at a “T” intersection. GPS 35.738310, 139.327307 On the web: www.nttdocomo.co.jp/english/service.
DoCoMo’s English line: 0120-005-250.
To read more about AU: www.au.kddi.com/english. It has ardent supporters on base who swear they get better reception at lower cost. It is also one of the official iPhone carriers in Japan.
Already own an iPhone? Wouldn’t it be great if you could get your U.S. model working as a local Japanese phone? If your phone is not locked to a U.S. carrier, go right ahead! Drop in a Japanese SIM and you’re ready to go. If you got your phone on a U.S. contract, chances are you’ll need to unlock it. This is tricky. It’s no job for a technophobe, but you can read more about it here. Liz Ruskin 2010. Updated 2012.
Calling the base
To call the Yokota operator from off-base, or from your Japanese cell phone, dial 042-552-2511. ENTER THIS NUMBER NOW IN YOUR CELL PHONE DIRECTORY! Why is this so important? See the “Emergency” section above.
Toll-free numbers begin with 0120 or 0088. Most cell phone numbers begin 080 or 090.
Medical Treatment Service: 03-5285-8181 9am-8pm (weekdays only). To find out which hospitals have foreign language translators.
First Aid Translation Service: 03-5285-8185 9am-8 pm every day (including weekends). If you have a language problem in the hospital, they can assist you.
Tokyo English Life Line: 03-5721-4347. 9am-4pm & 7-11pm. For counseling on suicide, domestic abuse, etc.,
Japan Helpline (24 hrs): 0120-46-1997
Other U.S. Bases in Japan
Camp Fuji (0550) 89-1062
Camp Courtney (098) 972-6700
Iwakuni MCAS (0827) 21-4171
Kadena AB (098) 938-1111
Misawa AB (0176) 53-5181
New Sanno (03) 440-7871
Sasebo NB (0956) 24-6111
Yokosuka NB (0468) 26-1911
Camp Zama (0462) 51-1520
The green and digital telephones accept both coins and prepaid telephone cards sold at train station kiosks and convenience stores. Local, long distance and international calls can be made from the green phones.
For directory information in English, dial the NTT Information Service at 03-5295-1010 (0900-1700 Mon-Fri, 0900- 1200 Sat; 3 minutes cost ¥10). For an operator-assisted overseas call, dial 0051. Another source for business listings is Tokyo Doko at www.tokyodoko.com.