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Japanese Cell Phones

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Okie so I am considering a study abroad program so I can go to Japan to study the language. I was looking at japanese cell phone and yes...I want one! I know they won't work here in the states where I live. So I was thinking, if I do go to Japan, I want a Japanese phone so I'll be able to call home and stuff. I was going to buy one off of ebay and there, they don't come with the contracts. I was gonna buy a phone and then rent a sim card that comes with a Japanese cell phone number. I know that gsm networks dont work in japan. Does that sound like the right thing to do? If anyone has any information to share on this, that would be great!