Traveling with tech
June 20, 2005 1:57 AM   Subscribe

Im heading out from the UK to Japan on August 13th with 3 friends. We are each taking an assortment of tech ranging from digital cameras, DV cameras to an iBook. Is there anything we should know before heading out about Japan or traveling in general?

I'm taking my iBook to take advantage of the free internet access in the hotel room for emailing photos and videos home. It wont be leaving the hotel at all. Is it worth getting a security cable and tethering it to something unmovable?
posted by lemonfridge to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Batteries are available everywhere, tapes are available everywhere, you can plug in and recharge at Starbucks, which also is now everywhere. Some Japanese airport worker just got busted for stealing laptops, so the usual precautions apply there. The hotel is probably a lot safer than the airport, but it can't hurt to be cautious. Electricity is 100V and 60Hz in and around Tokyo but 50Hz in the civilized rest of the country. I've heard tell of this affecting CD playback on overseas model CD players but never experienced it. Also, they may not have outlets that accept an american-style polarized two-blade plug (with the two blades being different size) or one with a grounding prong, so obviously make sure you have a plug to convert to a plain two-blade plug. FM radio band starts lower, so you may not get all the stations if you bring a radio. August is damn sticky, baby, so you would do best to go native and wear what I am wearing right now, the practical yet oh-so-stylish jinbeh. Lastly, if you are going to be in my area, there is a festival on the 16th where they light up the hills around the city with fire kanji.
posted by planetkyoto at 3:42 AM on June 20, 2005

Keep your expensive electronics on you at all times - don't put them in your checked luggage and don't leave them unattended anywhere, even on the plane. Airline employees are not above theft, which I found out the hard way in April.
posted by geeky at 5:38 AM on June 20, 2005

My experience of Japan was that it seems a very safe place in comparison with parts of the UK and USA. My partner was completely content to leave a video camera sat on the ground filming passersby, with no worry that it would get stolen. We got the impression of the vast majority of people being pretty trustworthy.

I second Planetkyoto's comment about the weather. I went to Tokyo in late August and the weather fluctuated between very hot and sticky (but overclouded); extreme torrential rain, of a kind that puts London to shame, and the occasional hot bright day.
posted by skylar at 6:04 AM on June 20, 2005

Don't take so much stuff. If you want to see and remember everything, spend less time photographing everything and more time looking at everything and talking to everyone. Write letters to yourself from wherever you are with tickets stubs and quick sketches and so on stuffed inside. (Writing and drawing makes you look and think.) Pretend you're a star - let your friends carry the heavy cameras while you just happen to be in half of the shots and directing the other half. And I bet there's a way to upload stuff to the net without dragging a computer all the way to Japan. It might be worth paying a little for a few uploads so you don't have to lug (and risk the loss or damage of) a computer.

If you do have to bring an expensive piece of stuff and leave it unattended in your room, you should of course chain it down, though that won't stop thieves with a little time on their hands (they watch you leave) and the right cutters.
posted by pracowity at 6:50 AM on June 20, 2005

Excellent, excellent source on everything you need to know; legal and otherwise.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 9:45 AM on June 20, 2005

Unless you're staying in a hostel dorm you shouldn't have any problem leaving things in your room. The average to well-to-do Japanese has enough gadgetry that there's no reason for thieves to single out foreigners. Don't leave it out in the open of course, but also don't feel like you need to be paranoid.

Japan is, comparatively, a very safe country: for example, credit/debit cards aren't used on a day-to-day basis, so most Japanese carry at least several hundred dollars worth of cash on them at any given time, & this is so common that no one considers it risky whatsoever. Also, in the subway stations in Tokyo you'll occasionally see salarymen asleep on a piece of newspaper with an umbrella opened over their head to shield their faces. They will've missed their last train home & be waiting out the morning, unafraid for their safety..

As for voltage differences, laptops are made for travel & shouldn't be effected, & I've never had any problem charging my digital camera batteries..
posted by soviet sleepover at 12:08 PM on June 20, 2005

Learn some basic Japanese. Take time to familiarise yourselves with the train system before hopping on. I considered Japan very safe, but i still wouldn't leave personal belonging unattended. Cash is often the preferred method for payment, so have plenty of Yen. I travelled in the winter, but I have heard that summer can be very humid.

Enjoy.....terrific country.
posted by Chimp at 1:44 AM on June 21, 2005

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