Using an american computer in Japan

I work in the tech department of a school district. One of our elementary teahcers is going on a trip to Japan. She is taking a digital camera and a laptop. She wants to be able to email pictures back.

I know she will need a step-down transformer with the correct plug, but what about an internet connection? Will she be able to use her american modem in a japanese hotel room? Is it common for hotels to provide ethernet connections? She has AOL, will she be able to use a local number or will she have to use a number with a per-minute surcharge?

She is going to saty one week in Tokyo, and one week in Hita.

This teacher is not very computer literate, so if she can’t just plug into a phone jack and dial AOL or into an ethernet jack with DHCP it may not be worth trying. She would just have to save here pictures on hte laptop and wait until she gets back to show them to us.


Actually, she won’t need any converter for the power. I use all of my appliances there (laptop, digital camera, electric shaver, etc.) all the time. I’ve never used a dial-up connection in Japan, although most of the places I’ve stayed have had DSL connections to the Internet.

As Cerowyn said, power is no problem, no converter needed. American modems work fine too. The only difference is that in most hotels and offices, you dial 0 to get an outside line instead of 9.

Ethernet connections in hotels are not very common so I wouldn’t count on it. AOL does business in Japan so I’d guess US customers can use local dial-up numbers in Japan for a minimal fee, but she should check with AOL.

The difference betweem US and Japanese AC cycles affects some devices and not others. The power supply of a laptop shouldn’t be affected.

Ethernet is Ethernet everywhere. (Different speeds may be available, but there’s always a lowest common denominator.) Don’t know about modems but there’s a very good chance it’ll work.

She should go to AOL’s help pages for info on travelling and using that. Non-ISPs like AOL are a real pain in this regard (among others). One reason to avoid them.

I’ll add my voice to say: no problem. The only minor detail would be that three-prong plugs are rare, and so she might want to pack a three-prong to two-prong adaptor.

Modems should work fine. At least my previous, North American one, did.

Standard “house” current in Japan is 100 Volts AC, with 2-prong receptacles that match American plugs, but that are usually not polarized or grounded (so 3-prong receptacles are uncommon). Eastern Japan (which includes Tokyo) runs on 50 cycles, while Western Japan (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, and beyond) runs on 60 cycles.

As far as connecting to the Internet with an English OS computer goes, here is some advice I googled…

Considering the plethora of Internet cafes in Tokyo, I would say that your friend should leave her laptop at home, and just be sure to take her digital camera’s USB cable with her. She can hook her camera up to a computer at an Internet cafe, and just send the pix through a webmail account. Shouldn’t be too much trouble, since most digital cameras are manufactured by Japanese companies.


Tell your friend that, due to the slightly lower voltage here, her American-made hair dryer will be slightly less efficient than it is back home. If she wears contact lenses, and uses a thermal sterilization device, she may find it doesn’t “cook” her contacts quite as quickly when in Japan. Motorized appliances such as electric shavers don’t seem to suffer much from the missing 10 volts.

If your friend has hayfever or asthma, she should be warned that common over-the-counter remedies such as Vicks Inhalers and Sudafed are contraband in Japan.

Japanese Customs Info

AOL does indeed have access numbers in Japan, and by all accounts my Japanese crew has no problem using it while there.