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Old Apr 13, 2008, 08:06 PM   #1
shotskie
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Advice on buying in a MacBook (in Japan)

Hi I was looking for some advice on buying a new MacBook, here's my situation:

I will be in Japan this summer for three months for school and absolutely need a new laptop for the trip, my current iMac doesn't travel well, naturally, and my old '02 iBook just won't cut it. I'd like to buy before I go, however my flight to Tokyo is on June 1st, and possibly only a few weeks before some potentially significant updates.

My big question is are Apple's releases in the US coincidental with those abroad, specifically Japan? In Japan would I be able to get an 'American' laptop? I'd be more than o.k. with one fit for Japanese and everything but I wouldn't want any differences to be cumbersome, I plan on getting a couple years out of this. Can anyone think of other hangups or problems I'd have with buying the laptop in Japan?

Any advice or ideas would be great, thanks.
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Old Apr 13, 2008, 08:30 PM   #2
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You will not have any problem buying a Mac in Japan, you can set OS X to run in English when you install it. Also there is an English speaking line for the online Apple Store in Japan. On the Internet Online store you can buy the MacBook with a Japanese keyboard or a US keyboard at no extra charge. Also, they do have Apple stores in all the major cities in Japan, especially Tokyo and Osaka. Almost all our Macs here came from the Osaka Shinsaibashi store and I use the English keyboard and OS always. Before OS X I had to use Japanese, OS X is a winner. Here is the Apple Store English Line Number, use it in Japan or go to the Apple store. 0077-78673-6 it says it's toll Free. I do not mean to sound like an Apple rep, just trying to help.
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Old Apr 13, 2008, 08:35 PM   #3
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haha no need to worry about sounding like an apple rep, i'm a huge apple fan and its pretty much a lock that i'll buy one... that was a lot of great info, thanks for the help

any thoughts on product releases? think there'd be a delay in availability between us and japan?
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Old Apr 13, 2008, 08:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by shotskie View Post
haha no need to worry about sounding like an apple rep, i'm a huge apple fan and its pretty much a lock that i'll buy one... that was a lot of great info, thanks for the help

any thoughts on product releases? think there'd be a delay in availability between us and japan?
Apple product releases are global. The minute a new Mac is released in Cupertino you can order it on the online Apple Japan Store or walk into a Japanese Apple Store and get it.

I live too far from the nearest Apple Store (Osaka Shinsaibashi) here in Shikoku but I order everything from the online store and have never had any problems. As Eastend mentioned they even have an English language support/order line.

Apple service here is excellent as well. I've sent my Macs (and iPods) in for service several times over the years. They send a courier out with a box specific for your machine and have it back to you within a few short days.
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Old Apr 13, 2008, 08:56 PM   #5
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i've noticed that new releases trail the U.S. online store by at least a couple of days and i imagine it might be the same in the retail stores. prices here are quite a bit higher than in the U.S. (even with edu discount) and i think the current exchange rate will make things even worse for you.

i bought the current MBP from the Amazon.com U.S. store and had it sent to a friend in Florida. he then turned around and airmailed it to me. it was only about $60 for the shipping and i'm in the Japanese boonies. took about 5-6 days and i saved about $350 compared to the Japanese edu price after factoring in shipping.

just wanted to give you another option. you'll save some cash and may even get it sooner than the Japanese Apple store will.
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Old Apr 13, 2008, 09:09 PM   #6
SaSaSushi
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i've noticed that new releases trail the U.S. online store by at least a couple of days and i imagine it might be the same in the retail stores. prices here are quite a bit higher than in the U.S. (even with edu discount) and i think the current exchange rate will make things even worse for you.
Apple Store online updates are global and simultaneous.

The current aluminum iMac was released on August 7th in the US. I ordered it on the morning of August 8th here in Japan. The only reason the date was different is because of the time difference.

Stock availability is a different story but I remember that I took delivery of my iMac well before some friends in the states who had ordered at the same time. Perhaps the closer physical proximity of Japan to the manufacturing plants in Shanghai played a part in that.

As for the exchange rate it all depends on where you're getting paid. If you're bringing US cash for exchange then yes, right now is not the time to buy over here in Japan. The dollar is at its lowest value here against the yen in years.
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Old Apr 13, 2008, 10:03 PM   #7
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MacBooks in the US will be far cheaper right now - I'd check the exchange rate online for confirmation of that. For example, an MB Pro is about $600 more over in Japan right now.
Also, I would avoid the English/Japanese keyboard - unless your spouse is Japanese. The E/J keyboard looks very cluttered on notebooks + some things are not where they're supposed to be! Also, selling it back in the States would then be a lot tougher...
The updates to the MacBooks (to aluminium?) are rumored to be coming in Q3 - i.e. July onwards, though this is speculation..
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Old Apr 13, 2008, 11:46 PM   #8
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jonswan is right, you will get a better exchange rate in the US, I buy in Japan because I live here, I need the service if the thing breaks, however your staying here only 3 months. It will cost 2 to 3 hundred dollars more for the MacBook here in Japan, however I do not know about the US stores, but in the Japan Apple store since the MacBook is well over one month old now, you should be able to get 5 to 10% of the base price just talking to the sales person, I always get some discount, h**l I got 5 % off a brand new iMac in the Osaka store. The newer it is the less discount they will give you. As for the keyboard as I said you can get whatever you want, the US one or the Japanese one there is no charge for that. By the way, as for service it is excellent in Japan, I hear few horror stories here as compared with the US. Once had a new PowerBook fail within one week of purchase and they sent me another brand new PowerBook. So it's just SaSaSushi said the service here is excellent.
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Old Apr 14, 2008, 12:48 AM   #9
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jonswan is right, you will get a better exchange rate in the US, I buy in Japan because I live here, I need the service if the thing breaks, however your staying here only 3 months.
I absolutely agree he should buy his Mac in the states right now based on the exchange rates but I did want to point out that Applecare is global. So long as there is coverage on a US-purchased Mac or iPod then Apple Japan will fully service it. I know from experience here with US-purchased products, including iPods.

In fact, I purchased my iMac's Applecare coverage from L.A. Computer in the US and registered it with no issues whatsoever on my Japan Store-bought machine.

So, needing service here in Japan should not be a factor in choosing not to purchase in the USA.
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Old Apr 14, 2008, 07:23 AM   #10
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Eastend - you got a 5% discount in the Apple store? Huh? I've bought 4 Macs in Japan and not once thought about asking for a discount.... apart from the cheaper Applecare they gave me on my iMac. Can you tell us more?
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Old Apr 14, 2008, 11:42 PM   #11
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Eastend - you got a 5% discount in the Apple store? Huh? I've bought 4 Macs in Japan and not once thought about asking for a discount.... apart from the cheaper Applecare they gave me on my iMac. Can you tell us more?
I've only purchased 2 Macs at the Apple Store (not the Online store, bought a lot of Macs Online, never again.), first was the Mac mini, it was about 2 months after it came out (1.42 Ghz G4). First I told them all that I wanted on it (memory, bluetooth, Air something or other, they call it a different name here, Applecare, and dot Mac), after that I discussed discounts, got 10% off the base price only. Next purchase was the Core 2 duo iMac, that machine had only been out less than 2 weeks. Same procedure as above machine (different items of course), then discussed discounts. However on a recently released machine they only gave me 5% off the base price, they would not increase the discount and I did try for more, but it was a no go. After you add options up total percent off is not much. Also, since I am noticeably not Japanese they quickly sent someone who spoke English, even without a request from me. So with the Apple staff's so so English and my so so Japanese, everything I asked for was understood, I really think they would understand you even if you just speak English. The discounts are not much, but then again a discount on a Mac is usually not much anywhere in the World I would think. Conversely, there is no way to buy at a discount on the Online store and it's not personal as going to an apple store. If you've bought that many Macs in Japan, they probably have a record of it, try the friendly approach next time.
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Old Apr 15, 2008, 02:49 AM   #12
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The discounts are not much, but then again a discount on a Mac is usually not much anywhere in the World I would think. Conversely, there is no way to buy at a discount on the Online store and it's not personal as going to an apple store. If you've bought that many Macs in Japan, they probably have a record of it, try the friendly approach next time.
As a music teacher here I do get an educational discount on all Macs I purchase at the online (Educational) store. It's not much, only 7%, but it adds up when you're talking about a $2,000 purchase.

I have no choice BUT the online store since the closest Apple Store is too far from me. There are some advantages to the online store over the Apple Store though such as full customization ability.

It would be nice to be able to deal with human beings for my Apple purchases but in the alternative the Apple online store is quite a fast, satisfying experience. There is no time spent in commuting to and from the store and the shipping is free.
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Old Apr 15, 2008, 04:06 AM   #13
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"There are some advantages to the online store over the Apple Store though such as full customization ability."



You might want to ask about that. I imagine you can walk into an Apple store and get one made to order. I could be wrong though...

And maybe the bargaining for discounts in the store is due to the purchasing of apple memory? It's crazy bananas expensive compared to other places.
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Old Apr 15, 2008, 09:21 AM   #14
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"There are some advantages to the online store over the Apple Store though such as full customization ability."

You might want to ask about that. I imagine you can walk into an Apple store and get one made to order. I could be wrong though...
Well, I guess you probably could place an order for any configuration you like at the Apple Store but I just meant that it's all done in one shot on the online store, from the comfort of your own home.

Yes, of course I agree that it's always better to deal with real people. But for my latest iMac I actually ordered it by telephone with a very helpful sales rep then followed the order online until delivery.
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Old Apr 15, 2008, 11:40 PM   #15
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Well, I guess you probably could place an order for any configuration you like at the Apple Store but I just meant that it's all done in one shot on the online store, from the comfort of your own home.

Yes, of course I agree that it's always better to deal with real people. But for my latest iMac I actually ordered it by telephone with a very helpful sales rep then followed the order online until delivery.
Both you and smoking monkey brought up good points, as far as made to order it's about the same online or in the store. Personally I use the Apple store only because I have to go to Osaka once or twice a month anyway, and dealing with real people. We probably replied to almost all of shotskie's original concerns.
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Old Apr 16, 2008, 07:33 AM   #16
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Yes, some interesting points + certainly when the newly designed Macs come out in July I might try the softly softly approach...

But on the buying of RAM at the Apple store, I'd rather stab myself in the face. Anyone doing so would be out of their minds - I find Apple's RAM prices deeply offensive and it's creepy that they clearly prey on the defenceless and the bewildered in paying 500% market value. The more people speak about it, the less people will do it.
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Old Apr 16, 2008, 08:36 AM   #17
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Yes, some interesting points + certainly when the newly designed Macs come out in July I might try the softly softly approach...

But on the buying of RAM at the Apple store, I'd rather stab myself in the face. Anyone doing so would be out of their minds - I find Apple's RAM prices deeply offensive and it's creepy that they clearly prey on the defenceless and the bewildered in paying 500% market value. The more people speak about it, the less people will do it.
I couldn't agree more. For those of you in Japan here is a link to the RAM I bought for my 24" aluminum iMac back in December from Sofmap:

Castor SoDDR2-2G-667 リテール品 (DDR2 SO-DIMM 2GB)

Currently, it's 4980 yen (down from the 5380 yen a piece I paid 4 months ago) for one 2GB stick and I can tell you it works flawlessly on the Mac. I bought two sticks and am running 4GB. It's really good quality stuff made by a company called UMAX in Taiwan.

Definitely, buying RAM from Apple is a total ripoff.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 02:57 AM   #18
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I couldn't agree more. For those of you in Japan here is a link to the RAM I bought for my 24" aluminum iMac back in December from Sofmap:

Castor SoDDR2-2G-667 リテール品 (DDR2 SO-DIMM 2GB)

Currently, it's 4980 yen (down from the 5380 yen a piece I paid 4 months ago) for one 2GB stick and I can tell you it works flawlessly on the Mac. I bought two sticks and am running 4GB. It's really good quality stuff made by a company called UMAX in Taiwan.

Definitely, buying RAM from Apple is a total ripoff.

SaSaSushi- that's good info. I'm in the market for an Imac -as soon as they update them- and was wondering about doing the install myself.

I have only ever done it on an old B&W G3. the side just popped open and it took all of two minutes. I've been a laptop user since about 2001 so I literally have no idea about the Imacs and how accessible the guts are.

thanks.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 04:02 AM   #19
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I brought mine there. No dramas what so ever! I went to apple store in Ginza, on 3rd of Jan right in the middle of the new year sale. Had clerk who spoke perfect english explain to us what was on sale and what wasnt and left us to our own devices until i decided to buy my MB (and my BF's ipod). He was so awesome and helpful even though the place was packed. He even apologised profusely that it would take 1hr to change the keyboard to english cos they were so busy! The service was just amazing (and all the staff spoke english - about half were anglo)! It was heaps cheap, cos a) it was on sale b) duty free and c) exchange rate with AUD is awesome, I saved about $500
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 04:04 AM   #20
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Itl be released at the same, and yes will be in english however you will have to wait an hour to get an english keyboard...all apple stores speak english.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 04:21 AM   #21
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Yep

Bought the white macbook for my girlfriend while in Japan and had no problem (I speak just a few words of Japanese...)

They offered me the choice of english or japanese keyboard but I don't know about the waiting, because they had many of both in the store (Shibuya one)

A small problem was they had only Japanese "MS Office" (if you're interested...)
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 09:47 AM   #22
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SaSaSushi- that's good info. I'm in the market for an Imac -as soon as they update them- and was wondering about doing the install myself.

I have only ever done it on an old B&W G3. the side just popped open and it took all of two minutes. I've been a laptop user since about 2001 so I literally have no idea about the Imacs and how accessible the guts are.

thanks.
Same deal with the iMac, Smoking Monkey. There is a RAM door on the bottom of the machine. You just lay it screen down on a towel and it's two phillips-head screws to open it. Then you just pull out a plastic tab to release the RAM or push it in to the slot until you feel a click.

Nothing could be easier.

If you're within commuting distance of Akihabara or Nipponbashi in Osaka you may be able to get an even better deal on that RAM or its equivalent walking into a shop. Being out in the woods of Kagawa here I am restricted to mail order myself in order to get decent prices.
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Old Apr 18, 2008, 11:14 AM   #23
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A small problem was they had only Japanese "MS Office" (if you're interested...)
Does that matter? Just pick a different language to work with during installation. I couldn't be wrong about this, and it may be more complicated than I think, but that's what I think right now.
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Old Mar 5, 2009, 07:01 PM   #24
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Dear SaSaSushi,

Greetings from a fellow Kagawa-ite (?... is that right?). Anyway, I found your very helpful messages regarding the Mac. I am in the market right now to finally switch from PC to Mac and am shopping around right now. My wife and I live in Otashimo-mach. Would love to know more about where to get a laptop, who is helpful in this neck of the woods, and what to do for servicing etc. Also, it would be great to meet another expat out here too, so that would be all right as well.

Could you please drop me a line at englishbizkagawa via gmail?

My name is Mark and it would be great to hear from you.

Best regards!!

Mark
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Old Jul 5, 2010, 02:06 PM   #25
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Do Apple stores (not the online store; but the physical stores) in Japan carry macs with a US keyboard?
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