One thing I’ve really enjoyed since arriving back in Japan is being able to watch online videos without having to make numerous cups of tea in order to pass the time they take to buffer. The throttled connections we had at university were probably amongst the slowest in the UK, slower even than my parents’ broadband which runs off a remote rural exchange that continues to utilise highly trained rocket-propelled swallows to transfer packets of data.

A recent survey showed that Japan’s internet was the fastest in the world, something I can believe having seen adverts for services offering 160mbps connections. Ours runs at about 18Mbps.

3G, as used by mobile devices, is also impressively fast. I regularly clock 1Mbps on my iPhone, which is about 30 times faster than the wireless in the university library back home… (tee hee)

With the contract for our current broadband connection finishing at the end of the month we’ve been looking around at what’s on offer, and have been pretty surprised by how generous the ISPs are. So generous in fact that we’ve found a deal that essentially means that we almost make money – just by signing up for the connection.

With Nifty we get the first four months free of charge, then pay 6000 yen (£30) per month after that. However, we also get 20,000 yen (£100) in Sakura Store points (which we’ll spend on the ink and stuff that we need to buy anyway, exciting huh?), thus by the time we move out next Spring we’ll technically be 8000 yen (£40) better off for having signed up for it.

I guess I do feel a bit warmer towards Sakura now. Maybe that’s what they’re paying us for.

The only negative in all this is the downtime between contracts – up to two weeks without broadband. …but as we’ve got an iPhone I don’t really see this as much of a problem, and if we’re desperate for a connection for our laptops we just need to stand outside Shibuya Station – the whole area seems to be covered by free Wifi.

It’s funny how Japanese technology is so far ahead of the UK in some ways (broadband etc), yet so far behind in others (web technology, such as that connected with online banking. You know, if you lose your password for your post office savings account you have to print out a form and send it to the customer service centre in Yokohama…!)

Ho hum. Better go and tell the fridge what to order us for supper from the local supermarket.