Quick Takes – April 18th, 2019

Welcome to this week’s Quick Takes. In this issue, we have Welcome SIM coming to an end, JR West Bus introducing double-decker for their highway bus lines, Olympic tickets, and doing Zen meditation at your hotel.

  • Welcome SIM is coming to an end: Docomo’s Japan Welcome SIM & Wifi had been a great way to get mobile data in Japan since 2017. With pickup at airport, free ad-supported internet access and 4G speed at a small charge, it’s fairly popular among foreign travelers. But as all good things go, it could go away as much as it came. Welcome SIM is no exception. Docomo had announced the end of the prepaid card by September 30th, citing changing business environment as the reason. From now on, the SIM will only have a valid period of 90 days, reduced from 150 days before. Also, by June 13th the current 20 days extend validity period offer will end. For those of you who will travel to Japan after September this year, you will need to look for other ways to get online.
  • Olympic 2020 domestic ticket lottery to start in May: Japan’s Olympic organizing committee will open application for the domestic ticket lottery of Olympic 2020 by May 6th, in an announcement on April 5th. That said, base on a press release on July last year (https://tokyo2020.org/en/news/notice/20180720-03.html), all international ticket sales will be handled by authorized dealers approved by individual NOC (National Olympic Committee) members for each country/region. A list of the NOC members will be released on the official Tokyo Olympics website, no specifics yet). So, for anyone who wants to go to the Olympics next year, do keep an eye on the local NOC websites for details.
  • JR West Bus to introduce double-decker: JR West will introduce double-decker buses to their overnight line between Tokyo and Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka/Kobe) in late May. The same model of buses had been used by JR East Bus a while ago. The introduction of bigger buses is most likely because of increasing need and competition (disclaimer: my speculation only).
  • Zen meditation at your hotel!: That is, if you are staying in Hotel Enso Ango in Kyoto. All the facilities are contained in 5 buildings, with bar, lounge, tea house, and gym. In one of the buildings, there is a tatami salon. And that’s where the mediation exercises are held, with the deputy residence of Jianin-ji in Kyoto leading the practice.

That’s it for this week. Just in case you haven’t noticed, we now have an Instagram page. We are now featuring the photos I took during the sakura trip last month. Check it out and follow for more photos!