Rich in culture and history, Japan is one of the most amazing destinations in the world. If you are planning a trip there, you are in for a magical ride. Fascinatingly combining ancient traditions with modern innovation, Japan offers travelers a unique and unforgettable experience. From bustling cities to tranquil rural areas, this country has something for every traveler to enjoy.
Tokyo, the capital city, is a vibrant metropolis that showcases the country’s technological advancements and cutting-edge fashion trends. The city is full of must-see landmarks such as the Tokyo Skytree, which offers breathtaking views of the city, and the bustling Shibuya Crossing, where thousands of pedestrians cross the intersection at once. Travelers can also explore traditional neighborhoods like Asakusa, home to the famous Senso-ji Temple, or experience the vibrant nightlife in areas like Shinjuku and Roppongi.
Another must-visit destination in Japan is Kyoto, known for its rich history, stunning temples, and traditional geisha culture. The entire city is a treasure trove of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the stunning Kiyomizu-dera Temple with its magnificent wooden stage overlooking the city, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, and the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
For nature lovers, a trip to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is an unforgettable experience. Hokkaido is known for its breathtaking landscapes, including the picturesque lavender fields of Furano and the stunning Shiretoko National Park, home to diverse wildlife and pristine lakes. During winter, the area becomes a haven for skiers and snowboarders, with world-class resorts.
If you are looking for a more serene experience, a visit to the historical city of Nara is highly recommended. Nara is famous for its friendly deer that roam freely in the park and its imperial temples, including Todai-ji, which houses the world’s largest Buddha statue. The city’s tranquil atmosphere and beautiful gardens make it a perfect place to unwind.
Japan’s efficient and extensive transportation system, including the renowned bullet train Shinkansen, makes traveling around the country a breeze. Whether you’re exploring the streets of Osaka, bathing in a hot spring in Hakone, or marveling at the floating torii gate of Miyajima, Japan is sure to amaze you!
No trip to Japan would be complete without experiencing its incredible cuisine. From sushi and ramen to tempura and kaiseki, Japanese food offers an unparalleled culinary adventure. Our tip – try everything!
Planning a trip to Japan is so exciting, but don’t forget to consider all the important details. It may not be the most fun part of trip planning, but purchasing a data package plan ahead of time will save you a lot of time, money, and headspace. There are a few different options for data plans in Japan, and in the hopes of making it all a little less confusing, I’ll be explaining each of them to you below. So, let’s get to it!
Can I buy a SIM card in Japan?
Anyone over the age of 18 who lives in Japan or is traveling can buy a Japanese SIM card from SoftBank and various network operators, such as MVNOs – Bmobile, COMST, GTN Mobile, IIJMio, Modal, Nippon SIM Sakura Mobile, Wi-Ho! & Wireless Gate. However, all of these options do come with some restrictions. The main limitation is that short-term visitors cannot buy Japanese SIM cards that support voice calls.
Japan is relatively strict about SIM card rules, but they are pretty easy to purchase. In Tokyo, international travelers can buy SIM cards directly at the airport, either at Haneda or Narita. Upon arrival to the airport, look out for electronics stores like Yodabashi Camera or BIC Camera to buy your SIM. These stores can be found in many cities around Japan should you decide to purchase your SIM outside of the airport.
It’s important to note that tou cannot buy the SIM card directly from major Japanese telecom companies such as SoftBank.
So what to do? I’ll explain everything! Plus, I have some calling options for you, too.
Short-Term Japan SIM and Internet Solutions
Mobal is a Japan-based telecommunications company that provides communication services to both residents and tourists. Mobal focuses on offering international communication solutions to help foreign residents stay connected while in Japan.
One of Mobal’s primary services is renting and selling mobile phones to international visitors. Travelers who don’t have a compatible phone or want to avoid expensive charges can rent a phone from Mobal in Japan. These phones come with a local Japanese number and offer voice calls, text messages, and the internet. You can easily communicate with local contacts, make reservations, access maps or any apps, and stay connected throughout your trip.
Mobal also provides data-only SIM cards that can be used in smartphones and tablets. These SIM cards offer high-speed internet access.
One standout feature of Mobal’s services is the absence of a contract or minimum usage period like other companies in Japan. Customers can choose to rent a phone or purchase a SIM card for the duration of their stay in Japan, whether it’s for a few days, weeks, or even months. This flexibility makes Mobal an attractive option for short-term tourists or those who prefer not to commit to long-term contracts.
Mobal’s customer support is also top-notch, with an English-speaking team available to assist customers with any questions, technical support, or troubleshooting. The company has a good reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.
There are three types of SIM cards for short-term visitors: 8 days, 16 days, and 31 days. Mobal SIM cards allow you to use unlimited internet within the approved period.
- 8 days (unlimited data): 3,990 yen or 27 USD
- 16 days (unlimited data): 5,990 yen or 40 USD
- 31 days (unlimited data): 7,490 yen or 50 USD
IIJmio, another telecommunications company offers a SIM card to help travelers from all over the world stay connected while in Japan. IIJmio’s Japan Travel SIM is divided into two types: 1GB for 30 days and 2GB for 3 months. They are recommended for those who plan to stay in Japan for about a month and use just a small amount of data during that time.
- 30 days (1GB): Price varies, check the company’s website.
- 3 months (2GB): Price varies, check the company’s website.
SIM Card Geek
SIM Card Geek provides various options for SIM cards specifically designed for tourists. These SIM cards are typically prepaid and offer data, calls, and text messages. The website offers different packages with varying data allowances, validity periods, and pricing, allowing travelers to choose the most suitable option based on their needs and length of stay.
To obtain a SIM card from SIM Card Geek, you can visit their website and place an order. The SIM card will be delivered to your address, either at home or directly to your hotel in Japan.
The SIM Card Geek website may also offer additional services such as portable Wi-Fi routers, which allow you to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot using a data connection. This can be convenient for travelers who want to connect multiple devices or prefer not to insert a SIM card directly into their phone or tablet.
- 8 days (8GB): 3,480 yen or 23.60 USD
- 12 days (Unlimited data): 4,980 yen or 33.77 USD
- 14 days (3GB): 4,480 yen or 30.38 USD
eSIMple Japan eSIM
This company, eSIMple, is my number one choice. Offering cheap prices, convenient set-up, and reliable service, an eSIM beats out the local companies in Japan.
eSIMple is an innovative telecommunications company offering a wide range of game-changing solutions for those traveling abroad.
Offering excellent customer service, eSIMple has representatives who speak a variety of different languages. They also provide convenient packages that are suitable for long-term or short-term trips, that include phone calls and internet.
The best part is that eSim is all digital, meaning you do not have to switch out any physical cards. It’s so easy to set up – all you have to do is scan the code, and boom, you’re connected as soon as you land.
Tip: Not all devices support eSIM. Check that yours is capable of this service before purchasing!
eSIMple packages for Japan:
- 0.5 GB + 100 free minutes for 3 days – $9 USD
- 1GB + 100 free minutes for 4 days – $13 USD
- 3GB + 100 free minutes for 7 days – $30 USD
- 5GB + 100 free minutes for 21 days – $43 USD
Where to Buy a Short-Term Japan SIM Card
You have two options, you can either order a SIM card online before your trip to Japan, or you can buy one once you arrive.
Pre-Order a SIM Card:
You can have your SIM card waiting for you when you land, and pick it up directly from Haneda and Narita airports upon arrival. You will find their booths near the exit; there are usually several local phone providers offering phone services for travelers at international airports in Japan. You should have your passport with you and the sales staff will assist you with the SIM swap process.
You can also find SIM cards at local stores, such as Bic Camera or Yodobashi Camera (pretty much everywhere in Japan), or at a Docomo, AU, or Softbank store.
Long-Term SIM Card Options
For those planning to be in Japan long-term (over 3 months) you will need to get a plan with calls and not just data.
There are two options for long-term SIM cards. One is to sign up with one of the three major network providers – SoftBank, au or Docomo – all of which require purchasing a brand-new phone that is locked to the provider and the SIM card. In addition, these companies also ask for a two-year contract with a high penalty fee should you try to break the contract. This rule is in place to prevent customers from switching to other providers.
A cheaper alternative is to sign up with an MVNO that offers Data + VoSIM cards specifically for those planning to stay in Japan for over three months. Prices can range from ¥2,300 to ¥7,000, as opposed to the regular monthly phone bills of ¥7~11,000 that come with signing up with one of the major carriers.
Which is better, a SIM card or an eSIM for Japan?
If you’re debating between using a physical SIM card that you buy in Japan and an eSIM solution abroad, both options have their advantages and considerations that should be taken into account.
A physical SIM card that you buy in Japan has several advantages. First, it allows you to get instant access to a local number and internet upon arrival, assuming you bought the card at the airport. In addition, physical SIM cards provide the flexibility to choose between different providers and plans according to your specific needs. This allows you to compare prices to choose the best option for you.
On the other hand, eSIM solutions also offer quite a few advantages. With eSIM, there is no need to physically insert or replace SIM cards in your device. Instead, all you need to do is scan the QR code that will be sent to you – and start browsing! From the moment you arrive in Japan, you can make calls and enjoy the internet without breaking your head from dealing with a physical SIM card. Another bonus is that with an eSIM, you get to keep your local number throughout your stay in Japan. Plus, eSIM isn’t just going for Japan. It’s available in 69 countries, so if you’re planning to travel elsewhere, you can easily add these places to your plan.
So how do you choose? Here are some things to consider:
First, not all devices support eSIM, so it is important to make sure your device is compatible. In addition, the availability and support for eSIM may vary between countries and service providers, so it is important to research and confirm that eSIM services are accessible in Japan. In the case of the company eSIMple- it does.
Japan has a well-established communications infrastructure, and major cities and tourist destinations generally have excellent network coverage for both physical SIM cards and eSIM cards. However, if you are planning to travel to remote or rural areas, it is worth making sure that the coverage provided by your communications provider will be valid everywhere in Japan.
And of course, prices are also something to consider. The pricing for physical SIM cards and eSIM solutions may vary depending on the company – but it is always recommended to do a price comparison to determine which option best suits your budget and requirements.
Internet in Japan – All You Need to Know
Most hotels in Japan offer free in-room internet via wireless LAN and/or wired internet via LAN cable.
Wi-Fi is available in Japan in certain areas, but it’s important to note that it will mostly be paid. It will be especially common around train stations, shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Free Wi-Fi Spots
Thanks to the efforts of businesses and the government, free public Wi-Fi networks for foreign tourists are becoming more common. You can find this in international airports, major train stations (including all Yamanote Line stations and many Shinkansen stations), select cafes, fast food stores, and coffee shops.
It’s important to note that most free WIFI spots require a relatively cumbersome registration process.
Choosing between a physical SIM card and an eSIM solution for your trip to Japan will depend entirely on your personal preferences, device compatibility, and specific needs. Physical SIM cards offer flexibility in choosing a provider and convenience for those who prefer to handle everything in person, but eSIMs provide quick, hassle-free activation without the need for physical cards, making them a convenient option for eSIM-compatible devices. An eSIM offers flexibility in crossing borders and can be beneficial for those who prefer a digital solution.
If you are looking for reliable eSIM solutions, I recommend eSIMple – with fair pricing, a good selection of packages and countries, and excellent customer service, they’re your best bet for connection services in Japan.
Have any other questions about SIM cards for Japan or eSIM cards? Feel free to leave a comment!