You land in Tokyo and take a train to the big city. Maybe you are standing in the middle of the road taking a photo. You go to a restaurant and point at a photo on the menu in hopes the waiter will get what you want. When it arrives, you think that you need to post it to make your friends jealous. For your data and voice communication needs, here’s the lowdown on getting a Japan sim.
Is the most practical card for travel? If you arrive late and need to call your hotel, that’s the only provider with voice calling. They offer easy pick-up in Tokyo and Osaka, as well as free international delivery. Most of the profits go to charity. The Mobal Japan unlimited sim would be that. A killer feature if you arrive late and need to call your hotel. They offer easy pick-up in Tokyo and Osaka, as well as free international delivery. Most of the profits go to charity.
The focus of the article is on short-term cell phone use. See Japan’s Data and Voice Sim Providers Compared for a comprehensive guide to Japan SIM cards.
It is possible to buy pay-as-you-go sim cards from Japan’s major mobile providers, but you can usually get a better deal with anMVNO. They piggyback on existing big networks to offer great deals. We will point you to a few providers that might be of use.
Short-term Japan SIM options for tourists
I need to update my status every day while I am here.
You can get online the moment you arrive if you buy your sim in advance. This isn’t a comprehensive list, just our top picks. Some of them can be charged with more data.
Notes on the providers:
Data is still available at slower speeds unlimited data sim europe when you have more data. Long-term packages are also possible. You can get a range of other packages if you are traveling from China. Pick-up at airports in Tokyo and Osaka, as well as free shipping to many countries, can be had. The 3,000 initial fee is included with the voice + data sim. If more than 3gigabyte is used in a day, the speeds may be reduced.
Other plans are also available. Pick up of free shipping to many countries is possible at the post office at the airport. If more than 3 gigabytes is used in a day, the speeds may be reduced.
You simply plug and play with Sakura Mobile. There are also longer term deals. Fair usage applies.
Major electronic retailers and a range of other stores can be found at OCN. After 100MB has been used, speeds are reduced to 200kbps. There is call center support for both Chinese and Korean. The cards must be returned.
IIJmio is available at airports and electronic stores. Other plans can be found. The prices are approximate and the maximum speed is 788Mbps. Call center support is available in Chinese.
SoftBank offers a Japan pre-paid sim on their own network. At airports, SoftBank stores, and major electronic retailers, as well as on Amazon, you can get a sim card.
It runs on the DoCoMo network. Extra data can be charged to the card. Delivery costs can be as high as 500 to a hotel or airport post office. You can buy them at both stores. The cards must be returned.
Can I make calls from Japan?
Japan’s sim cards for short-term travelers are mostly data-only, meaning you can’t call or text. If you are still doing that, you are probably one of the people who puts email in a filing cabinet. Or fax it.
A partial workaround is to use an app like Facebook Messenger.
You can buy a sim card in Tokyo.
Ignored everything you said and went to town.
No worry. Look for a BIC Camera store in Shinjuku or Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara if you want a good deal. We hear that Bic sim cards are popular. We have tips for buying a sim card in Tokyo.
You can speak to the staff once you are in the store. Dore desu ka, Watashi ni. I’m looking for a card. Which one is best for me? English-speaking staff will make things simpler.
If you are wondering what format of sim you need, this should be listed on the phone manufacturer’s page. If you can’t figure it out, your local phone shop should be able to help. You should try to get this before you go to Japan. Most of the travel sim cards in Japan can be adjusted to the correct size.
Japan SIM cards for tourists: Frequently asked questions
Got questions about Japan?
Which SIM cards can I buy in Japan?
In Japan, you can buy Mobal, OCN, and the like. BIC Camera and IIjmio’s Japan travelSIMs are other options. While the focus is on Tokyo, the guide applies to all of Japan.
Where can I purchase a Japan sim card?
If you are traveling from one of the above areas, you can order a sim card online and have it delivered before you leave for Japan or pick it up at your local airport. Mobal cards can be collected at the Japan Rail Cafe in Singapore or at the Nikkei Education Center in Hong Kong. There are other options for your area.
How do I activate a Japan SIM card?
The exact steps depend on the provider, but generally it is a matter of putting the sim into the phone and following the instructions. You should be able to use it quickly.
Can I use an eSIM in Japan?
You might be able to use a software-based eSIM card for your trip to Japan if you have a newer phone. You can use global eSIMs in Japan, but not for visitors. Read more about Japan.
Alternatives to SIM cards for tourists in Japan
You want me to pay actual money for a service, not TokyoCHEAPo?
TeH giAnt Corporations has free internet and data. If you register at the link above, you will be able to use the free internet at the coffee chain. Just pop into a store and leave.
Sign up? That’s WAY too much work.
Apple gives out free internet at many of their store locations. If you don’t live near one, the Tokyo Metro provides free internet. If you have a home internet provider that is part of the Fon network, you can use your own password and home internet login. It is not taking into account the many cafes and restaurants which offer free internet.
If you’re in Japan, you can rent a portable hotspots from Fon, which you can use for travel.
OK, calmed down now. Carry on.
It’s worth pointing out the other alternatives.
If you have more than one device that requires the net, or a few of you are traveling together, you may want to consider a portable device from a rental provider like the aforementioned Fon, who will give you a 30% discount. You can pick these up and drop them off at airports for convenience, and they appear to have unlimited or very generous data allowances. For a more in-depth guide, see our popular guide.
Cheap roaming packages can be found on some mobile networks outside of Japan. T-Mobile USA customers in Japan have free data on their plans. Your data speeds may be heavily throttled if you read the fine print carefully.
If you’re planning on going to the UK, you should check out our London Cheapo Guide to UK pre-paid cards.
Information can change. July 16, 2021.
Written by: Ryo Seven Filed under: Internet