Art and Photography

Going to Japan in April, what to bring?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 13th, 2018 8:41 am
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Jr. Member
Aug 14, 2015
179 posts
124 upvotes
Burnaby, BC
unshavenyak wrote:
Jan 4th, 2018 10:50 pm
Could you elaborate a bit more? Based on my research, it seems my (unlocked) iPhone 6S should work with a B-Mobile visitor data SIM. The only setup required would be the APN and access code, right?
If you use B-mobile (from my experience few years back), you'll either need a Japanese resident's home phone line to activate your sim card (so they can track you). Hotels won't do it for you.
Either that or you need to pay a certain amount, I think it was like ~3500yen extra to waive that process. I actually do have a family member living in Japan, so I haven't explored into whether there are extra roadblocks regarding the waiving process.

That's why there are sim card rental/cellphone rental + sim card) businesses in Japan - cause they know foreigners don't get easy access to working sim cards.

Phone rentals are at the airport if you want that option. I don't know if the airport has a sim card rental stall, but I'd look into that option first if I were to go to Japan without a family member living there. If not, then look into some japanese sim card rental websites and see if somehow they'll send it to the airport for pick up.

Don' be fooled by Japan's supposedly free wifi everywhere voucher. They don't work anywhere. Not even at train stations. Once you're out of the airport, you're disconnected in a country where barely anyone speaks English.
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Dec 28, 2005
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phuviano wrote:
Jan 5th, 2018 1:44 am
I've never understood these threads, where some one ask "I'm going to xxx (insert city/country), what lens(es) should i bring". Just bring whatever you normally shoot with. I've been to many places in the world. Lots of different cities and countries including Japan. When i was in Japan, I had a 16-35, and an 85 f1.8 lens. I currently own 5 lenses now, all primes. An 18mm, 25mm, 55mm, 85mm, and 90mm macro. If i were to re-visit Japan, I'd take everything except for my 90mm macro. Reason being, I only use macro to take photos of insects mainly.

The only time I bought a new lens before going on a trip, was when i went out to western Canada. I bought a used 70-200mm off kijiji, because I was planning to do whale watching. So unless you have a specific need for a certain lens. Just bring whatever you normally shoot with. Also, fyi, when i got back from the West coast, I ended up selling the 70-200mm and made a $50 profit.
That's a fair comment. When I was visiting Barcelona, I brought my entire kit. We were stationed in one hotel for the week so it was very easy to just pack whatever I needed for the day. I think what makes Japan unique is that we will be swapping hotels multiple times and relying on the shinkansen network. This makes space a premium and why I'm trying to get input on what others have found valuable to bring.
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Jul 13, 2009
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unshavenyak wrote:
Jan 4th, 2018 10:46 pm
Why’d you sell the 20?
Everything is great except it's slow AF. The 17 will take its place but I am pondering the PanaLeica 25mm f1.4 a RFD is selling
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Nov 19, 2006
3387 posts
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Toronto
unshavenyak wrote:
Jan 5th, 2018 8:01 am
That's a fair comment. When I was visiting Barcelona, I brought my entire kit. We were stationed in one hotel for the week so it was very easy to just pack whatever I needed for the day. I think what makes Japan unique is that we will be swapping hotels multiple times and relying on the shinkansen network. This makes space a premium and why I'm trying to get input on what others have found valuable to bring.
Exactly, and the Shinkansen and subways aren't made for carrying large suitcases and bags. Space is a premium in Japan, and it's better to go light and enjoy your time than to carry alot of gears hoping to get that one nice shot.
Sr. Member
Jan 2, 2008
658 posts
37 upvotes
spiritsBB wrote:
Jan 5th, 2018 3:11 am
If you use B-mobile (from my experience few years back), you'll either need a Japanese resident's home phone line to activate your sim card (so they can track you). Hotels won't do it for you.
Either that or you need to pay a certain amount, I think it was like ~3500yen extra to waive that process. I actually do have a family member living in Japan, so I haven't explored into whether there are extra roadblocks regarding the waiving process.

That's why there are sim card rental/cellphone rental + sim card) businesses in Japan - cause they know foreigners don't get easy access to working sim cards.

Phone rentals are at the airport if you want that option. I don't know if the airport has a sim card rental stall, but I'd look into that option first if I were to go to Japan without a family member living there. If not, then look into some japanese sim card rental websites and see if somehow they'll send it to the airport for pick up.

Don' be fooled by Japan's supposedly free wifi everywhere voucher. They don't work anywhere. Not even at train stations. Once you're out of the airport, you're disconnected in a country where barely anyone speaks English.
Mm... i never had my sim activate thru a Japanese resident during my visits. You can just buy a sim from bic camera and use it on the spot even it is not the cheapest option.
Toronto Automotive Photographer
www.steho.ca | @stehoCA
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Dec 28, 2005
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StE823 wrote:
Jan 5th, 2018 1:29 pm
Mm... i never had my sim activate thru a Japanese resident during my visits. You can just buy a sim from bic camera and use it on the spot even it is not the cheapest option.
I spoke with B-mobile and you are correct. Their new data only visitor SIM does not require a residential address to activate. If you want to add voice/SMS to it then you do need a residential guarantor.
Jr. Member
Aug 14, 2015
179 posts
124 upvotes
Burnaby, BC
StE823 wrote:
Jan 5th, 2018 1:29 pm
Mm... i never had my sim activate thru a Japanese resident during my visits. You can just buy a sim from bic camera and use it on the spot even it is not the cheapest option.

When was your last visit there? It was only around 3 years ago that we still had to activate through a phone line.
Sr. Member
Jan 2, 2008
658 posts
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spiritsBB wrote:
Jan 6th, 2018 3:20 pm
When was your last visit there? It was only around 3 years ago that we still had to activate through a phone line.
Last October.
Toronto Automotive Photographer
www.steho.ca | @stehoCA
Sr. Member
Jan 2, 2008
658 posts
37 upvotes
unshavenyak wrote:
Jan 6th, 2018 12:28 pm
I spoke with B-mobile and you are correct. Their new data only visitor SIM does not require a residential address to activate. If you want to add voice/SMS to it then you do need a residential guarantor.
From my experiences there are few ways to get SIM / Data..

1. Airport, expensive but fast and unlimited.. around 1,000Y per day. Great if you are only staying for less than a week imo. (I think it comes with a number as well but not 100% sure)

2. b-mobile sim.. pretty fast too but limited data.. and not the cheapest.. (I think around $30 for 1GB)

3. Japan Rail Pass (https://www.japan-rail-pass.com)... Got this during last spring when I order my JR pass... they ship the JR pass and SIM to your home address.. $33 for 15 days 3GB, $50 for 30 days 6GB.. I opted for 30 days while I was there for 3 weeks... Even if you ran out of data within the time period, you can add 1GB for 500Y per day by credit card on your phone's web browser..

4. Cheap data sim from Hong Kong / China.. If you have friends visiting there tell them pick one up for you. It's like $10 for a week unlimited. Works great but not the fastest.

5. Pocketwifi... Only recommend this if going in a group... Also available from Japan Rail Pass site... Most Airbnb host will provide one for you during your stay for free. (But you won't have data from the airport to your Airbnb)

6. Public wifi... Can't say it is completely useless... There are many places have free wifi such as SB... Conbini... and even some subway lines... I managed to survived a day in Tokyo with public wifi once...

And for Camera and Lens... I only just bring my a6500 and 16-70 + a Manfrotto table tripod... There's too much walking in Japan if you are not renting a car. I like to keep my kit as small as possible.. Maybe one day I will just bring a phone camera with me in the future..

Actually I prefer taking shots with my phone since it geotag and organize all my shots nicely in the phone... Looking at the pixel 2 (or the next one) for my travel photography needs.

Hope this helps..
Toronto Automotive Photographer
www.steho.ca | @stehoCA
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Mar 6, 2003
11164 posts
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Ottawa
My 12-35 goes with me everywhere on trips, it's a great walkaround lens. It's not a macro lens but at it comes close to macro enough for the shots I've taken (flowers and such). I don't feel light limited in most shooting, but if I know I'm going to hit light limits easily, I'd bag the 25mm f1.4. I'll either take that or the 40-150 when I head out for the day.

I can't be bothered most of the time to change lenses during travelling, and weight is everything when it comes to travelling with a lot of walking or trekking.
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Newbie
Dec 14, 2011
40 posts
3 upvotes
Halifax, NS
I bring my Nikon D3000 (plus wide angle lens) on all my trips.

To the OP: That tripod will just be excess weight. Not really worth it.
Newbie
Feb 1, 2018
13 posts
3 upvotes
You need to go to Nara. and 12-32 & 20 sounds like a nice light combo. Enjoy your trip :)
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Dec 28, 2005
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Katelynsmith wrote:
Feb 2nd, 2018 12:37 pm
You need to go to Nara. and 12-32 & 20 sounds like a nice light combo. Enjoy your trip :)
We amended our itinerary to include two days in Nara. We're 2 km from Nara Park. It's going to be great!
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Deal Addict
Dec 28, 2005
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One last question. Does anyone have tips on used or new camera shopping in Japan? I was planning on picking up the Olympus 45/1.8 as it's substantially cheaper at Yodabashi Camera than here, but I've heard good things about Den-Den Town.

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