As usual when I teach, I hope my students learn as much from me as I do from them. Last week, the first draft of their essays was due. Most of these kids are either in a home-stay situation or in a dorm, neither of which allows much access to a printer, so they ran to the computer center at school to print out their essays. However, a few of the students had their essays ready, so I asked them about their method of printing. It turns out that the convenience stores, which are omnipresent in Tokyo, have a system called NetPrint.
The first step is to pick your favorite brand of convenience store – most likely the one closest to your house. Then go on their website, which will be only in Japanese, to sign up for a NetPrint account. Once you are signed up, you can upload whatever type of document you want to the site and in return, you will get a confirmation ID.
Then you can go to any convenience store at which you have signed up for an account. So if you’ve signed up for the Lawsons account because it’s closest to your house, you can use the Lawsons store right by your office or school as well. It’s only one program for every branch of the shop.
The NetPrint machines in the shops often speak a little English on their touch-screens. All you have to do is enter your confirmation number and the document you’ve uploaded will print. You can’t edit from the convenience store machine, but you can change some formatting. If you don’t upload the document, but have it on a USB key in PDF format, that’s okay too. You can’t print a .doc or .xls, but you can print a PDF from the key.
You pay right at the machine, inserting coins as needed. It’s 10 yen ($.10) per page for black and white, 20 yen ($.20) per page for color.
To my students, I say sorry – no more excuses for an unprinted essay. To everyone else, I say, geez, I love this city. What a system!