DON'T MISS: What's the best tourist SIM card for Japan

What’s the best tourist SIM card for Japan? The broadband cellular networks have spoiled us.  We’re used to having all the information available at the snap of a finger.  Not all the screen time is spent equally well, but to be honest, I would be completely lost in some situations if they took my smartphone away.

That is certainly also the case abroad.  In Japan we used our smartphone to navigate the vast cities, to find recommended places to eat and cat cafés and to look up the train and metro schedules.

But before you start browsing the internet on your smartphone in Japan you better check your telephone provider’s roaming tariffs.  A few MB’s of data will often cost you a whopping 100 dollars, which means you’re almost always better off with a prepaid Japanese travel SIM card.  Not only will it cost you less, but the quality of your connection will most probably also be better.

In this article, I will describe the best options to get your hands on a local SIM card.  The easiest option is to buy one in advance online as this gives you time to compare all the different options. 

Don’t worry if you’re reading this article on the day of departure or when you’re already in Japan.  You can also buy a SIM at the airport or in an electronics store in Japan.  I will guide you on how to do this further down in this article.

The main focus of this article is on the different prepaid SIM cards available to tourists in Japan, so-called Japan travel SIM cards, but we also cover options for those who will be staying longer in the country such as students and expats.

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Why buy a Japan SIM card

We used our data connection a lot in Japan.  The two apps we probably used most were Google maps to find our way while walking and the metro app, such as this one in Tokyo, to plan the best route to our destination. 

Major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka are very expansive and you will use the metro a lot to get from one site to another.

In addition to that, we used our smartphone to find restaurants, translate menu items and learn more about the many places of interest.

Japan SIM cards are relatively cheap, certainly much cheaper than paying data roaming costs, and our local Japan SIM turned out to be priceless, maybe even more so than in other countries we visited.

The larger cities also count numerous WiFi hotspots so we also tested if these work well and if there’re sufficient to replace the need for a local Japanese SIM card.

Japan JR Central Free WiFi

Free WiFi sign in the train station

Free WiFi in Japan

A lot of places offer free WiFi.

If you want to avoid the cost of paying for a Japan travel SIM you could try to rely on these public hot spots.  The Tokyo Metro has free WiFi, Starbucks offers free WiFi to all its customers (there was a time you used to register in advance but this is no longer necessary) and most restaurants have free WiFi as well.  

Cities are also adding WiFi hotspots in major public spaces by transforming public phone boots in WiFi hotspots. 

Here’s an overview of the WiFi hotspots in Tokyo.

 

We tried some of these hotspots but as we had our local SIM with our pocket WiFi device we only used them occasionally. 

The Tokyo Metro hotspots didn’t seem that reliable, they usually did not work for us, WiFi offered by restaurants was usually of excellent quality and very fast.

Read also: A first timers guide to Tokyo’s public transport.

The free WiFi hotspots are a nice and welcome initiative but their coverage falls short if you really need to rely on these places to access the internet.

If you use free WiFi hotspots you also need to be aware of the security risks.  Hackers may put themselves between you and the connection point thereby reading along with everything you send over the connection.

The WiFi hotspots are useful but there are not enough to be able to truly rely on them.  If you’re used to using your smartphone a lot during your trip our advice is to buy a prepaid SIM card for the duration of your vacation in Japan. 

Japan Tourist SIM cards – The top choices

In this article, we discuss no less than 30 different Japan tourist SIM cards.  All of which have slightly different options.  It’s good to have a choice but with all these different options it is hard to see the forest for the trees.

We discuss all the details of the SIM cards further down in this article but here are our top choices:

For the occasional data user

If you just want to make sure that you can fall back on your data plan if you need it but you already know that you will only have to use it occasionally, these are your best options.

Short stays

At JPY ¥1,050 for 6 days and JPY ¥1,600 for 8 days the SIM cards provided by NTT Docomo are reliable and very cheap.  The 6-day version has 1 GB of high-speed data, the 8-day version comes with  3GB of high-speed data.  Technically you can use unlimited data, the speed drops to 200kbs after you’ve reached the above limits. 200kbs is of course very slow but if you only use your data plan occasionally you should never reach those thresholds.

Click here for more information and to order your NTT Docomo SIM card from Klook: NTT Docomo Tourist SIM

Longer stays

If you are 2 of 3 weeks in Japan

For stays of 2 or 3 weeks, you’re best of buying several of the 6 or 8-day cards of NTT Docomo.  Those are cheap and reliable and your data plan will only start the moment you insert the SIM in your phone and it is activated.

Click here for more information and to order your NTT Docomo SIM card from Klook:NTT Docomo Tourist SIM
If you are longer than 24 days in Japan

If you will be in Japan longer than 24 days the 30-day card of SIMcard GEEK is a good buy.  The card comes with 7GB of high-speed data which should be sufficient to cover your needs.  This SIM card also connects to the NTT Docomo network which is generally recognized as Japan’s best network.

Click here for more information and to order your SIMcard Geek SIM card:SIMcard Geek 30-day Tourist SIM

For the heavy data user

If you want to be online the whole day,  enjoy streaming music or watching Youtube videos, you’re better off with an unlimited data plan.  This may also be the case for those who will be sharing your data plan with friends or family members, maybe by means of a mobile WiFi device.

Short stays

Mobal offers SIM cards for 8 or 16 days with an unlimited data plan.  The cards have a fair usage policy which limits high-speed data to 3GB per day. 3GB is quite a lot, it will allow you to browse the internet for 36 hours, stream 600 songs or watch 6 hours of standard definition video. 

Consuming this amount of data in one day would probably mean that not much time is left to see the many stunning sights Japan has to offer.

Click here for more information and to order your Mobal SIM card:Mobal Tourist SIM

Longer stays

Mobal has a SIM with an unlimited data plan for 31 days.  This card has a fair usage policy which limits high-speed data to 3GB per day. 3GB is a lot, in the previous paragraph we gave a small overview of what exactly you can do before you reach this threshold. 

If you go out and discover the city you will probably never consume that much data in one day and if you stay in your hotel you can use the WiFi provided by the hotel.

Click here for more information and to order your Mobal SIM card:Mobal Tourist SIM
Mobile WiFi device

There’re all kinds of Pocket WiFi devices but most are about this size

Pocket WiFi versus a Japan tourist SIM 

You can choose to install your local SIM in your phone or you can opt to use a pocket WiFi device, both have their advantages and disadvantages. 

Based on my own experience I will try to advise on both of them.

Pocket WiFi for Japan

The main advantage of using a pocket WiFi device is that you don’t need to touch your phone. 

All your settings can remain unchanged, you just need to make sure that your data connection is disabled to avoid any nasty data roaming fees. 

Your SIM remains in your phone which means that friends, family, work relations and anybody else who has your phone number can reach you as if you were home.

If you want that people can reach you at all times then this is probably the best option.

Another advantage of a pocket WiFi device is that you can share the internet connection with several users at a time (most devices support up to 10 parallel connections).  Alternatively, you could install the SIM in a phone and share its internet connection by enabling the phone’s hotspot.  This would, however, drain the phone’s battery quickly.

A disadvantage of a pocket WiFi device is that it is one extra device that you need to carry around and that you will need to charge on a daily basis if you use it frequently.

Click the button to buy your own pocket WIFI device: Pocket WIFI device or read our detailed post about the best pocket WiFi rental for Japan.

SIM card in Japan

Installing the SIM in your phone is by far the most practical option if you don’t plan on sharing your connection and if you don’t mind that you temporarily can no longer be reached on your known mobile number. 

Some local SIM cards support voice+data. 

If you opt for such a SIM you will get a local phone number which you could share with relatives at home.

In these modern times, you could also use Skype to keep in touch with your home base and then a data SIM card is all you need.

Our focus for this article is to help you choose the best SIM card for Japan. 

We list all the important features of the available SIM cards so that you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Cranes Hokkaido Japan Winter

Cranes in Hokkaido in the winter

Network providers in Japan

Japan has three large mobile phone companies that operate their own network.  These are NTT Docomo, Softbank (formerly Vodafone) and Au by KDDI.

There’re are several other providers but these typically piggyback on the network of these 3 majors to offer their services.

The network of NTT Docomo is recognized to be the best in terms of coverage.  Softbank comes in second, they are not far behind, they still cover 99% of Japan (population-based).

Au by KDDI is seen as the least reliable network.  They do well in terms of coverage but their reception is not as good inside of buildings or underground due to the frequencies they’re using.

What you need to know and check before buying a Japan travel SIM

Here we share the most important things you need to know and check before buying a Japan travel SIM.

What you need to know before buying a SIM card for Japan

Before buying a SIM card for Japan, check which size of SIM card you need and if  your phone or pocket wifi device works in Japan

Which size of SIM card you need

SIM cards come in 3 sizes. 

Originally only the standard SIM existed.  Over the years the size has decreased, first to the Micro-SIM and then to the Nano-SIM

The technical specs of your phone or device will tell you what SIM you need.

Most of these providers use multi-size (3-in-1) SIM cards.  Others only offer 2-in-1 (Micro and Nano) which means they will still be compatible with most current models. 

In some cases, you will need to specify the requested SIM size with your order.

Does your phone or pocket WiFi device works in Japan

It is of course of crucial importance that your phone or device is compatible with Japan’s telecom network.

More specifically they need to be able to operate on the bands that the telecom operators in Japan are using. 

You find this information in the technical specs of your phone and/or WiFi router. 

You can also easily check this page for your telephone.

 

What to check before buying a Japan travel SIM

Here’s what to look for when choosing your Japan travel SIM.

Data or Data + Voice

Data-only SIM cards are by far the most popular and here you have the most choice. 

For most visitors, these SIM cards will be all they need as you can call using Skype or other similar tools such as Whatsapp. 

If you do need a local phone number you can choose a Data+Voice SIM.

Duration

All prepaid SIM cards can be used for a certain number of days.  This period starts when you activate the SIM and it cannot be extended.

Data allowance

Some SIM cards offer unlimited data, others have a limit on the data that you can use.   

If you think your data allowance won’t be sufficient you can choose one which allows you to top up on the go.

Region

All the SIM cards listed in this article will work in Japan and some will even work in other countries. 

These so-called multi-country SIM cards may be useful if you will combine a visit to South Korea or other countries with your trip to Japan.

Pick up

Some SIM cards are shipped (for free) to your home address or you get the choice to pick them up at the airport.  Others can only be picked up at the airport.

multi-size SIM

How a multi-size SIM looks

 

Japan SIM card for tourists

Preorder your Japan SIM card online

Here’s an overview of the different prepaid SIM cards you can preorder online. The overview is organized by provider. 

For each, we list the most important details, if you need more information you can click on the associated links.

The advantage of ordering your SIM in advance

If you have just come from a long-haul flight, you are probably drowsy and not in the best shape to make a decision about which SIM you need. 

For this reason, we advise you to pre-order your SIM online and have it sent to your home address or ready for pick-up at the airport.

Another advantage of ordering online is that you can take all the time you need to compare the different options. 

Oishi park Kawaguchiko Mount Fuji Japan

Beautiful Fall colors in Oishi Park

SIM card providers where you can preorder your Japan SIM card

Mobal

Mobal is an American company specialized in communication solutions for international travelers.  They have solutions for short term and long term stays with both data and data+voice options.

They have a very informative website and offer English support in case you have any additional questions. When we contacted them they got back to us within 2 hours.

Size: Multi-size SIM cards.  The SIM can be adapted to fit in any mobile phone.

 

Network: Your Mobal SIM will give you access to both the NTT Docomo network as well as the Softbank network so you’re sure to have the best reception whenever possible. The SIM can be used in any unlocked device that supports the 3G or 4G Band 1 (2100MHz) frequency.

Shipping:  Shipping is always free but not available to all countries.  If shipping is not available to your country you can simply collect your SIM, for free, at one of the many pick-up locations.  There are locations at the airports and in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and other major cities across Japan.

Below are the shipping times.

Japan: 1 – 3 business days
USA and UK: 2 – 5 business days (expedited, next business day, shipping to these countries is available for a fee)
Other countries: 8 – 15 business days

Shipping of voice+text sims requires that a copy of your ID is to be sent to Mobal at the time of your order.  All details about shipping and pick-up locations are extensively explained on the website.

Activation: No activation is required for these SIM cards. They’re ready to use. You just need to insert the SIM and set the APN.

Topping Up: Data only SIM’s have unlimited data at 4G LTE speed.  Data+voice SIM’s have 7GB of data at 4G speed per calendar month.  If you want more data at high speed you can top-up your account in your online account.

Fair usage policy: If you use more than 3GB in one day your data speed may be reduced to 128 kbps for 24 to 48 hours.

 

DurationDataVoice + TextTotal cost (click for more information and to buy)
8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥3,990
16 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥5,990
31 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥7,490
30 days7GB at 4G LTE per calendar month.
After this unlimited at 128 kbps or top up for a fee.
YesJPY ¥7,500
Top up : JPY ¥980/GB
60 days7GB at 4G LTE per calendar month.
After this unlimited at 128 kbps or top up for a fee.
YesJPY ¥12,000
Top up : JPY ¥980/GB
90 days7GB at 4G LTE per calendar month.
After this unlimited at 128 kbps or top up for a fee.
YesJPY ¥16,500
Top up : JPY ¥980/GB
Click here for more information and to order your Mobal SIM card:MOBAL Tourist SIM

 

Selfie pictures Japan

Share unlimited selfies with your unlimited Japan travel SIM

SIM Card Geek

SIM card geek is a company with offices in New York, London and Tokyo, they’re powered by Mobal but have a different product range than what you can get from Mobal directly.

Size: Multi-size SIM cards.  The SIM can be adapted to fit in any mobile phone.

 

Network: All SIM cards use the NTT Docomo network. The SIM can be used in any unlocked device that supports the 3G or 4G Band 1(2100 Mhz) frequency.  In the unlikely event that the SIM does not work in your phone or mobile device, you can use the money-back guarantee.

Shipping:  Shipping is always free and is available to your home or your accommodation in Japan.  You can also choose to pick up your SIM at any of the postal offices at the airports in Japan. 

SIM cards are sent out a few weeks before your pick-up date.  If you order your SIM long in advance it may not directly be shipped.

Below are the shipping times.

Japan: 2 – 5 business days (expedited shipping is available for a fee)
USA: 2 – 5 business days  
UK: 2 – 5 business days (expedited shipping is available for a fee)
Australia: 3 – 7 business days  
Other countries: 8 – 15 business days

Pick-up at the airport in the postal office: your SIM will be ready for pick-up after 2 to 5 business days or 2 to 3 business days with expedited shipping.  Make sure to verify that the postal office is open at your arrival time.

Activation:  The Japan SIM card is active upon receipt. To start using your SIM you simply can follow the instructions in the supplied English user guide to enter your APN settings.

Fair usage policy: Unlimited SIM cards have a fair usage policy.  If you use more than 3GB in one day your data speed may be reduced for 24 to 48 hours.

DurationDataVoice + TextTotal cost
5 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥3,480
8 days8GBNoJPY ¥3,480
12 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥4,980
14 days3GBNoJPY ¥4,480
16 days16GBNoJPY ¥5,480
21 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥6,980
30 days7GBNoJPY ¥4,980
31 days31GBNoJPY ¥6,980
Click here for more information and to order your SIMcard Geek SIM card:SIMcard Geek Tourist SIM
NTT Docomo (via Klook)

An NTT Docomo data-only sim card can be ordered online on the website of Klook.

Size: Nano or Micro sim.

 

Network:  NTT Docomo network. The SIM supports these frequencies: LTE: 2100MHz/1500MHz/800MHz, LTE: 1800MHz (available only in Tokyo/Osaka/Nagoya); 3G: 2100MHz/800MHz.  

Shipping:  The SIM can be collected in Tokyo at the International Terminal of Haneda International Airport or Terminal 1 or 2 of Narita International Airport. Other pick-up locations are Osaka Kansai airport Terminal 1 or the Namba tourist information center, and locations in Hokkaido, Okinawa, and Nagoya.

Activation:  A booklet will guide you through the steps to install and activate the SIM card. You can do this at the pick-up counter.  If for any reason the SIM would not work you can arrange a refund on the spot.

DurationDataVoice + TextTotal cost (click for more information and to buy)
6 days1GBNoJPY ¥1,050
8 days3GBNoJPY ¥1,600
8 daysUnlimitedNoJPY ¥2,400
Click here for more information and to order your NTT Docomo SIM card:NTT Docomo Tourist SIM
Yudanaka Onsen Japan

Instantly share your unique Japan experiences with a Japanese SIM card

Sakura Mobile

Sakura is a Japanese company that specializes in wireless service for all who are visiting Japan. 

They have simple and cost-effective solutions with English support for both short-term and long-term visits. 

All SIM’s offer unlimited data with a fair usage policy.

Size: Multi-size SIM cards.  The SIM can be adapted to fit in any mobile phone.

 

Network: Sakura uses the NTT Docomo network. The SIM can be used in any unlocked device that supports the 3G or 4G Band 1(2100 Mhz) or Band 19  (800 Mhz) frequency.  In the unlikely event that there would be unforeseen compatibility issues with your phone your plan will be upgraded and you will receive a pocket WiFi device to use for the duration of your plan.

Shipping:  Shipping is available to your accommodation in Japan and post offices.  You can also choose to pick up your SIM at the airport or at the Sakura office in Shinjuku. 

All details about shipping and pick-up locations are extensively explained on the website

Activation: No activation is required for these SIM cards. They’re ready to use. You just need to insert the SIM and set the APN.

Fair usage policy: The SIM cards have a fair usage policy.  Unfortunately Sakura Mobile could not tell us how many gigabytes can be consumed at high speed because the network provider frequently changes the limit.

DurationDataVoice + TextTotal cost
8 daysUnlimitedNoJPY ¥4,500
15 daysUnlimitedNoJPY ¥6,500
30 daysUnlimitedNoJPY ¥9,000
45 daysUnlimitedYesJPY ¥14,500
60 daysUnlimitedYesJPY ¥16,000
90 daysUnlimitedYesJPY ¥24,000
Click here for more information and to order your Sakura Mobile SIM card:Sakura Mobile Tourist SIM

Japan SIM cards with pick-up abroad (via Klook)

Here are a few extra options for those who live in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam or India. Below providers offer SIM cards that are either shipped to your home or that can be collected in your airport of departure.

Personally I would prefer to pick-up my SIM in Japan.  This has the advantage that somebody can assist you with setting it up and in the unlikely event that it doesn’t work, you would be able to look for an alternative or arrange a refund on the spot.

A pick-up abroad might, however, be a convenient option if you don’t want to lose time collecting your SIM upon arrival.

Pick-upDurationDataVoice + TextTotal cost (click for more information and to buy)Additional info
Bangkok8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,225Multi-size SIM by AIS
To activate dail *120.
Fair usage policy after 4GB, speed drops to 128kbps

Pick up at Klook counter at Bangkok airport or Siam center
Bangkok10 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,077Nano SIM (by DTAC)
Fair usage policy after 5GB, speed drops to 3G
Pick up at Klook counter at Bangkok airport or Siam center
Bangkok15 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥3,062Multi-size SIM by AIS
To activate dail *120.
Fair usage policy after 4GB, speed drops to 128kbps
Top-Up is possible.

Pick up at Klook counter at Bangkok airport or Siam center
Kuala Lumpur and West Malaysia15 days5GBNoJPY ¥1,947Multi-size SIM, works on Softbank network
Top-up is possible.

The SIM card can be mailed to any address in Kuala Lumpur or West Malaysia (not to Sarawak and Sabah)
Kuala Lumpur and Sabah7 days4GBNoJPY ¥1,506Multi-size SIM from Tune Talks

Pick up at Kuala Lumpur airport or Kota Kinabalu airport
This SIM can also be used in South Korea, China, Philippines, India, and Laos
Malaysia East & West5 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,444Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Malaysia East & West8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,912Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Malaysia East & West9 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥2,146Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Malaysia East & West10 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥2,380Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Malaysia East & West11 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥2,615Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Malaysia East & West12 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥2,849Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Malaysia East & West13 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥3,083Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Malaysia East & West14 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥3,317Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Malaysia East & West15 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥3,551Multi-size SIM from joytel2u
Delivered to any address in West or East Malaysia
Hong Kong4 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,109Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy after 4GB, speed drops to 3G
Pick up at Hong Kong airport

Hong Kong7 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,414Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy after 7GB, speed drops to 3G
Pick up at Hong Kong airport
Hong Kong8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,497Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy after 2GB, speed drops to 3G
Pick up at Hong Kong airport
Hong Kong8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,248Multi-size SIM by YSIM, works on Softbank
Fair usage policy: 500MB/day high speed 4G data (42Mbps) in total + unlimited 2G data (256kbps)
Pick up at Hong Kong airport
Indonesia7 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,625Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy: 500MB/day high speed 4G data (42Mbps) in total + unlimited data at 128-256kbps
Delivery to any address in Jakarta, Bali, Yogokarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Medan

https://www.wapititravel.com/blog/goto/japan-sim-card-pick-up-indonesia-multi-days/
Indonesia8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,779Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy: 500MB/day high speed 4G data (42Mbps) in total + unlimited data at 128-256kbps
Delivery to any address in Jakarta, Bali, Yogokarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Medan

https://www.wapititravel.com/blog/goto/japan-sim-card-pick-up-indonesia-multi-days/
Indonesia10 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥2,205Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy: 500MB/day high speed 4G data (42Mbps) in total + unlimited data at 128-256kbps
Delivery to any address in Jakarta, Bali, Yogokarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Medan

https://www.wapititravel.com/blog/goto/japan-sim-card-pick-up-indonesia-multi-days/
Indonesia15 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥2,978Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy: 500MB/day high speed 4G data (42Mbps) in total + unlimited data at 128-256kbps
Delivery to any address in Jakarta, Bali, Yogokarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Medan
Indonesia8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,980Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy after 4GB, speed drops to 128kbps

Pick up at locations in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bandung and Surabaya
Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh & Hanoi/Halong Bay8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,409Multi-size SIM, works on NTT Docomo network
Fair usage policy: 500MB/day high speed 4G data (42Mbps) in total + unlimited data at 3G

Delivery to any address in Ho Chi Minh & Hanoi/Halong Bay
India8 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥1,227Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy after 6GB, speed drops to 3G
Topping-up is possible.

Delivery across whole India.
India15 daysUnlimited with fair usage policyNoJPY ¥3,049Multi-size SIM
Fair usage policy after 6GB, speed drops to 3G
Topping-up is possible.

Delivery across whole India.
Yodobashi Akiba Store Japan

Big Yodobashi electronics store

Buying a SIM card in Japan

If you’re already in Japan when you’re reading this you shouldn’t worry. 

It’s also possible to buy a tourist SIM card in BIC Camera and Yodobashi Camera stores as well as at Narita and Haneda airport. 

You can even order one online and pick it up in several locations in downtown Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka as well as other cities.

At the airport

If you want to start using your SIM card immediately you can buy one at the airport.

In the arrivals hall are sales counters from various operators and they will certainly be able to assist you in English. 

The drawback is that your choice will be more limited than in the shops in the city and you will be paying more, as is always the case at airports.

BIC camera also operates one small store in Narita and 2 in Haneda airport (see here and here).  The sales points from the operators will likely be able to better assist you and give you advice.  These stores from BIC camera will be cheaper.

In the cities

Another option to buy a SIM card in Japan would be to head to one of the BIC Camera or Yodobashi Camera stores. 

They sell various prepaid SIM cards for Japan tourists.  Usually, someone will be able to assist you in English but don’t expect the store personnel to speak the same level of English as they would at the airport. 

If you know what you need they will be able to point you to the correct package or confirm that what you picked is what you think it is.

But you better speak some Japanese if you want to go into lengthy discussions about what would be the best option for you.

Finding these stores is easy.  Your hotel should be able to tell you the nearest one or you can use Google maps.

Online

A visit to a BIC Camera or Yodobashi Camera store is something that we absolutely recommend.  It is a fun experience during which you can marvel at all the electronic gadgets that are for sale.

But maybe you prefer to compare the various options from the comfort of your hotel room.  This is possible as well. 

You can order your SIM online with Mobal and pick it up directly at one of the many pick-up locations across Japan. 

They have a very informative website and offer English support in case you have any additional questions. 

Japan SIM card for longer stays

For a short stay, you’re best off with a prepaid SIM card but if you’re staying in Japan for several months you could consider an unlimited long term plan.  

Japanese providers are known to have a lot of red tape.   

A contract with them usually requires a lot of paperwork and a commitment of 2 years. For some, you even need to have a residence visa and/or a Japanese bank account.

Mobal

Mobal offers an alternative. 

Their long term plan comes with no minimum duration, no activation, and no termination fee. 

The customer service team speaks English, is super-responsive and you can easily order the SIM card online.

This is what you will get:

Japanese Phone number: A real Japanese phone number starting with 070, 080 or 090.  A voicemail service is included.

Free calls: All incoming calls and texts are free. Outgoing calls to other Softbank customers (including Mobal customers) are free from 1 AM to 9 PM.

Size: Multi-size SIM cards.  The SIM can be adapted to fit in any mobile phone.

 

Network: Your Mobal SIM will give you access to both the NTT Docomo network as well as the Softbank network so you’re sure to have the best reception whenever possible. The sim can be used in any unlocked device that supports the 3G or 4G Band 1 (2100MHz) frequency.

Shipping:  Shipping is always free but not available to all countries.  If shipping is not available to your country you can simply collect your sim for free, at one of the many pick-up locations.  There are locations at the airports and in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and other major cities across Japan.

Below are the shipping times.

Japan: 1 – 3 business days
USA and UK: 2 – 5 business days (expedited, next business day, shipping to these countries is available for a fee)
Other countries: 8 – 15 business days

Shipping of voice+text sims requires that a copy of your ID is to be sent to Mobal at the time of your order. 

If you don’t want to share these details online you can pick-up your package in Japan. All details about shipping and pick-up locations are extensively explained on the website.

Activation: To activate your SIM follow the activation instructions provided with your sim.  During business hours the activation should be processed within 2 hours.

Upgrade data plan: The data+voice SIM has 7GB of data at 4G speed per calendar month.  If you want more data at high speed you upgrade your plan in your online account.

Fair usage policy: If you use more than 7GB in one month your data speed will be reduced to 128kpbs for the remainder of the calendar month.

 

DataVoice + TextOne-time SIM costMonthly fee (click for more information and to buy)
No data includedYesJPY ¥3,000JPY ¥1,000

If you use data you will be billed an additional JPY ¥4,500 for that calendar month.
7GB at 4G LTE per calendar month.
After this unlimited at 128 kbps or upgrade to a bigger plan.
YesJPY ¥3,000JPY ¥4,500
Click here for more information and to order your Mobal SIM card:MOBAL Long-term SIM

Conclusion

Having a Japanese tourist SIM card turned out to be priceless.  With Google Maps we could easily find our way around the cities, we discovered interesting places to eat and we weren’t restricted to touristic restaurants since we could use our mobile phone to translate the menus.

It really helped us to travel deeper and get a better, less touristy experience of Japan.

There’re many different tourist SIM cards so we wrote this post to help you choose the one that suits your needs.  All information is accurate at the time of writing (October 2019).

We will regularly update this article but if you notice any changes we would appreciate it if you let us know so we can update our post.

Enjoy Japan!

Categories: Japan

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