What kind of computer do I need?
First thing that you need to decide is whether to buy a Japanese or foreign made computer. Japanese models will come with a Japanese operating system and all of the programs (Word, etc.) will be in Japanese. If your Japanese skills are limited, you should probably consider getting a foreign model. That said, you can probably guess your way around if you know Windows well. Foreign models are certainly more user friendly, but remember that they may be harder to service in Japan, especially in the inaka. Conversely, some Japanese brands will be difficult to service overseas when you return home.
The third and likely best option is to buy a Japanese computer with English language software installed. Merchantile Computers and TNT-PC are the best sources in Kansai (see below).
Current versions of Windows come with Japanese-language support automatically installed.
Macs are extremely popular in Japan (second only to the US). Most major electronic shops and department stores in Kobe and Osaka sell Mac computers, hardware and peripherals. Best of all, stores that sell Macs usually have English speaking “Mac Experts” to help you. And make sure to check out the The Apple Store in Shinsaibashi, Osaka (see below). You can buy online from the Apple Store, but you have to buy from the Japanese site at Japanese prices (i.e. Apple won’t send computers from overseas to Japan.) All said and done, it is probably easier to buy something in person.
0070-800-27753-1 (Toll Free)
Where can I buy a computer?
There are numerous websites offering good deals on computers, and this is by far the cheapest way to buy a computer.
If you are uncomfortable with online purchases and want to see and touch a product before you buy it, keep reading, as there plenty of retail shops to choose from in the Kansai Area.
Mercantile Computers is one of the best places to buy a computer in Kansai. They offer some of the best deals around, and stock a lot of computers with English only operating systems and English keyboards. They can split your hard drive into both English and Japanese operating systems, and install a boot switcher which allows you to choose between which operating system you want when you boot up. A boot switcher allows installation of both English and Japanese software. They offer support services and also do repairs on almost all makes and models. You can save on shipping costs by picking the computer up yourself.
Hours: 10:00 am – 6:30 pm, M-F, 2nd & 4th Saturday of the month
CLOSED: 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, Sunday, National Holidays
8F Maya Bldg No.1, 1-2-7
Minami Honmachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
By car: Take the Awaza exit off of the Hanshin Expressway, and go straight on Chuo-Odori Street (this is a one-way street.)
By train: Go east from exit No. 1 or 2 (Teijin Bldg) of the Sakaisuji Honmachi Subway Station (Chuo Line, Sakaisuji line). The Indian restaurant Mirch Masara is on the first floor.
The Apple Store – Shinsaibashi (心斎橋)
Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-Fu
3 minute walk from exit No. 7 of the Shinsaibashi subway station (Midosuji 御堂筋線 & Nagahori-tsurumi-ryokuchi長堀鶴見緑地線lines)
Hours: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, M-F
CLOSED: Sunday & Public Holidays
6-8 Tsuji Building 1F
Maruhashi-cho, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo-ken
Toshiba Direct PC
This is a direct order company which offers a variety of English only systems. Toshiba has service centers all around the world, which makes Toshiba a very attractive option for those you who plan on moving around after JET.
Department Stores & Specialty Shops
If you want to go cheap and are okay with a Japanese operating system, department stores and electronic shops are probably your best bet. They usually have really good deals around Christmas. Check out Den Den Town (デンデンタウン) in Osaka, an electronics shopping area pakced with 200+ specialty shops, all competing to offer the lowest prices, as well as Yodobashi Camera (ヨドバシカメラ), a multi-story electorinics and camerra shop with a huge selection, knowledgable staff, and a cool point card system. Den Den Town is a two minute walk from Nihonbashi Station (日本橋) on the Sennichimae subway line. Yodobashi Camera is just across the street from JR Osaka and Hankyu Umeda stations. Take a bilingual Japanese friend with you for best results.
Building Your Own PC
If you or a tech savvy friend can assemble a computer, this is a very good way to get exactly what you want at a good price. There are two primary ways to acquire the parts: buy them from a store (there are MANY in Den Den Town) or via the Internet.
One good store for buying parts is the Sofmap Gigastore in Den Den Town (Google Maps). Take the subway to Nihonbashi station and go out exit 10. Turn left and walk up the street until you reach a small Yoshinoya. At that intersection turn right, cross the street, and walk just a little bit (not even a block) and you should see the store. They have a large selection of just about every PC part you could imagine. When you buy your parts you can have them shipped (for a fee) back to your place to save the trouble of carrying it all home. You might be able to get by with English, but it’s best to have basic Japanese abilities or take a bilingual friend.
If you are going to shop for parts via the Internet then check out Kakaku.com. They are basically a product search engine that lets you look at the prices for a single item across many different Internet stores in Japan. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to buy the majority of your parts from a single online store in order to reduce shipping costs and simplify your transaction, consider browsing through PrimePC and Faith Go. One advantage of PrimePC is that they offer their website in English. It’s probably best to have a Japanese-speaking/reading friend/co-worker help you out with Kakaku and Faith Go if your Japanese isn’t up to the task.
One thing to note is that buying English Operating Systems (like English Windows) and English keyboards (i.e., English layout) can be a little difficult as stores do not usually stock them. The Internet might be best for acquiring these parts.