Sadly not everything went as smoothly as I had hoped. It was due to some mis-communication. Asahi.net do take credit cards, but I had mistakenly assumed that this was for everything. It turns out that they only charge for THEIR services as an ISP. Whereas the phone bill actually comes from NTT.
NTT also (supposedly, we shall see) lets you pay with credit card. But, the problem I ran into was that I needed my NTT customer number. Asahinet don’t have this and the only place I can get it is from an NTT bill. Which is fine, except those bills are going to the house in Kyoto and right now I am in Europe!
So, I finally managed to get my good friend Kazu to find a bill in the mail and give me the customer number.
Now that the house is functional, obviously the goal is to spend as much time here as the Gods of Immigration will allow a mere mortal such as myself.
One essential in the modern world is the internet. Previously, I had been renting a Wifi device from Global Advanced Communications (whom I strongly recommend for their AWESOME iPhone rental service!). But, at ¥17,100/month it gets a bit steep if you are spending a lot of time here.
So, I started to look for alternatives. I ended up going with the folks at Asahi.net.
Getting Internet From Asahi.net
It turned out to be fantastically easy, thanks to Asahi.net’s English support. I filled out a form online with a mock phone number (as I don’t have a land line) and in a few hours they came back to me with a report on what different services were available. I was lucky that a special promotion was going on with NTT.
So, I signed up for the FTTH with FLET’s Home Service. This is Fibre to the house(!). The deal was:
Discounted installation. A maximum of ¥3675 is paid for the installation
Asahi.net’s charge is waived for 8 months (regularly ¥819/m)
NTT’s charge is reduced to ¥4158/m for the first year (and ¥4420 for the second year)
Cashback of ¥20,000 (though honestly I am not sure how this works!)
All that I was required to show for ID was a Passport (I had to fax that to NTT). Payment is done by Credit Card… and they accept foreign cards.
So, if I were in Japan for the full 6 months I can be (or someone was and was using the house) with renting it would have cost around ¥105,000. With a fixed line (and about 10 times the speed), I am going to pay ¥50,000 for a YEAR.
The workers showed up last Saturday and took 30 minutes to run a new line from the street and into the house. They left me an ONU (convert Fibre to Ethernet). I am plugging that straight into my MacBook Air, but will get a wireless router this week.
It is working a treat. I can’t say enough good things about Asahi.net! They were very helpful.
Today I did a little site-seeing. There are so many things to see in Kyoto that every once in a while it’s nice to pick a place and take a look.
Today I decided to go to Sanjūsangen-dō. It is supposedly one of the ‘must see’ temples in Kyoto (though I’ve been coming here for 6 years and never seen it!). It is right across the street from the National Museum, making it easy to combine as a two-fer.
The hilight (read: only thing to see) in Sanjūsangen-dō is the 1001 Golden Buddhas and their accompanying god-statues.
It is an impressive site. A massive wooden building with more Buddhas that you’d ever thought you’d see in one place. All of the Buddhas are similar and stand around 160cm tall – i.e big! It is what I imagine the Terra Cotta warriors look like (except in gold).
I’d show you some pictures that I took of them except you can’t take pictures. This is also the only place I’ve ever seen in Japan that says they will inspect your camera upon leaving the hall! (Of course you can buy postcards with photos of the Buddhas on them).
But, here are a couple pics I took of the grounds.
I will say that the building was completed unheated and today it was 2C… so it was mighty chilly in there. Also, the ‘Thousand Armed’ Kannon, has, in fact, 25 arms. And there are other mathmatical wonders such as billing the site as have 33,000 Buddhas (because each buddha can have 33 forms).
My wining aside, it is an interesting site to visit, though I wouldn’t rank it in my top 10! It is very easy to get to – I took a Keihan Railways train to Schijo. It was only a 5 minute (max) walk from there.
One of the things you have to do, obviously, for the house is pay utilities. Now, I was fortunate enough that the guy who went in and cleaned and assessed the house after I bought it also arranged for the the utilities – gas, water, electricity – to be activated. So unfortunately I don’t have any info on that. If anyone does I’d appreciate you putting a comment here.
Anyway, I of course needed to pay for these things.
There are several ways you can do this. If you are staying in your house all the time then you can simply wait for the bill and go to pretty much any convenience store and pay it. It’s very simple. I did that for our first electricity bill, as it came when we were there. (It totally 122¥… about €1 – but that was just for the day the maintenance guy was there).
But, if like me you are not there all the time and you don’t want your utilities cut off, then you need to set up direct payment* This requires having a bank account. Sorry.
When you utilities are turned on – certainly gas and electricity – you will get a cute (Kawaiiiiiii!) info pack from the utility company. In the case of Kyoto your electricity comes from Kepco (Kansai Electric Power Company… not to be confused with the now infamous Tepco!) and your gas from Osaka Gas.
In the packs will be a mysterious form. It looks something like this:
You can mail this form in, or, do what I did, go to the Kepco offices and have them fill it out. I only did this because a) I had no idea what the form meant, not reading Japanese and not having anyone with me who did and b) I wanted to make sure it was done before I left. You have to wait for your first bill to arrive before you can do this as you need your Kepco account number and other information.
Again, you can mail this form in if you wish. There are Osaka Gas offices everywhere – though be warned they actually look more like shops selling appliances! I went into one and had them help me fill in the form, though by this time I understood it!
Kepco has a good website that, when used with Google translate, might help you understand a bit more what is going on. Japan is infamous for it’s bizarre electricity – different voltage and cycles in the east and west of the country. This page will explain your electricity bill.
OsakaGas also has a quite comprehensive site. This page discusses the bill.
Both Kepco and Osaka Gas have sections on their websites about paying with credit cards. Obviously I need to use google translate to read this, but, it doesn’t look like it is a direct debit system. In other words, I think you have to pay each individual bill. This wouldn’t work for me, as I am not in the house most of the year.
Gas is very popular in Japan and used in every house, at least as far as I can tell. Gas oven’s are the norm. I didn’t, but will on my next trip, get our gas stove. I don’t know if I should hook this up myself or get Osaka Gas in to do it! I guess I’ll find out.