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Matsuyama is the capital of the Ehime Prefecture on the Japanese island of Shikoku. Founded in 1889, the city nowadays has well over half a million inhabitants and is the main city of Shikoku, one of the eight main regions of the country.
Regular JR trains connect Matsuyama with other cities on Shikoku and there is an overnight train to Tokyo daily.
Many bus companies operate buses to main cities and towns on Shikoku and onwards to the mainland. Willer Express goes to Kobe, Osaka and Tokyo, while Iyo Tetsu Bus goes to Fukuoka (10 hours).
There is regular ferry service to Hiroshima including a speedy hydrofoil service taking less than 1.5 hours. There are also slower and longer ferries, including to Kobe and to Kyushu island. Setonaikai is one of the operators and Ishizaki is another one. The slower ferries take about 2.5 hours but are twice as cheap (about 3,500 yen instead of 7,000 one-way!).
Sunflower ferries goes to Kokura in Kitakyushu and travel at night. It also runs the ferry between Osaka and Beppu which stops in Matsuyama on its way to Osaka, but not the other way around!
Iyotetsu buses connect many places within the urban area of Matsuyama.
|Hotel Eco Dogo||2-17 Yuzuki- machi Matsuyama, Ehime||HOSTEL||87|
|Matsuyama Youth Hostel||22-3, Dogo, Himezuka, Matsuyama-shi||Hostel||85|
|Sen Guesthouse||4-14, Dogotakocho, Matsuyama city, Ehime||HOSTEL||91|
|Spa Ryokan Dougoya||6-38 Dogotakocho||HOSTEL||-|
Manga cafes are dotted along the streets of almost every city in Japan. For a very reasonable price (about ¥100 per 15 minutes), you receive a private cubicle with a PC with internet access at blistering Japanese internet speeds. The chairs are incredibly comfortable (making them an excellent place to sleep for the cash-deprived), and you can even order snacks and drinks from the staff.
A number of business hotels have Internet access available if you have your own device, sometimes for free. It is also possible to find Wi-Fi "hot spots" around many large cities in Japan, especially near tech-related businesses and large corporate buildings with unsecured wireless networks. 3G Wireless Data and Pocket Wifi are other options.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Payphones (公衆電話 kōshū denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards. Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone.
Modern Japanese mobile phones (携帯電話 keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. For a longer trip, you can also purchase a phone, but doing this legally requires an Alien Registration Card (or an obliging Japanese friend willing to front for you).
The easier way is to get a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones are sold in most SoftBank and AU stores. If you already have a 3G phone, go with Softbank as it can sell SIMs as opposed to au whose prepaid service is phone-based like most CDMA carriers. Prepaid phones use a "card" with a pass key to "charge" a phone with minutes. These prepaid calling cards, unlike the phone itself, can be found in most convenience stores. A prepaid cell phone is available for as little as ¥5000 plus ¥3000 for a 60-90 day call time package, which will get drained at a rate of ¥100 per minute (¥10 per 6 seconds for AU's prepaid service). Both SoftBank and AU offer prepaid phones.
The Japanese postal service is excellent! Domestic and international mail service is very quick and reliable. The prices for sending letters, postcards and parcels vary depending on where you send if from and to which country you send it too, and of course depends on weight as well, so check this calculation page of Japan Post for more details. Post offices generally are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, closing at weekends and also on national holidays, though a few open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Central post offices are sometimes open until 7:00pm, open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 9:00am to 12:30pm. There are post offices in every major city and minor town. Another thing to remember is that the post office is one of the few places in Japan that is guaranteed to have ATMs that take international cards.
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