The Best eSIMs for Your Trip to Japan

best esim for japan travel

eSIMs have revolutionized the way we travel. Gone are the days of worrying about SIM trays or losing those tiny SIM cards in the depths of our sofa cushions. And when it comes to traveling to Japan, the eSIM market has exploded, offering a wide range of options from both domestic and international providers. To help you choose the best eSIM for your upcoming trip, we’ve put a number of them to the test.

Japan eSIMs Tested and Compared

Let’s start with a quick summary of our findings:

If you’re curious about how we conducted our tests, here’s a brief overview.

What Exactly is an eSIM?

An eSIM is a virtual SIM card that can be downloaded and installed directly onto your phone, eliminating the need for physical SIM cards. Most smartphones released since 2019 have the capability to use eSIMs. For instance, Apple’s US iPhone 14 and 15 models are eSIM-only. These virtual SIM cards are particularly useful when you want to change your carrier, especially when traveling abroad, as you can connect to a new provider within seconds without removing your existing physical SIM card.

Japan eSIMs for Tourists and Short-Term Visitors

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the available eSIM options for your trip to Japan. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, but rather an introduction to some of the key players in the market.

eSIM Japan

eSIM Japan offers cost-effective data-only plans for visitors to Japan. They offer two types of plans: a general Japan plan and city-specific plans for popular destinations like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Although these plans are priced the same, they work throughout Japan.

When we ordered the 2GB/day Japan Unlimited Pro eSIM, we received a QR code in our inbox almost instantly. This means you can even pick up an eSIM while waiting for your luggage at the airport. The activation process took less than 15 minutes from purchase to actual use. The plans have different time limits (ranging from 3 to 90 days) and data limits (ranging from 3GB to unlimited), allowing you to choose a plan that suits the duration of your trip. Prices vary based on the plan length, starting from $3.99 for a basic 3-day plan to $26.99 for an unlimited 12-day plan.

eSIM Japan is provided by China Mobile Hong Kong but roams on Japan’s KDDI au and SoftBank networks (roaming needs to be enabled to use it). Despite roaming, the eSIM provided fast and reliable connectivity, with an average download speed of 38.27Mbps. Webpages loaded quickly, and both video calling and streaming were seamless, without any lag.

Note: If you are in Hong Kong or Taiwan, real-name registration is required. However, for other regions, no signup is necessary.

Mobal eSIMs

Mobal, a popular local provider, recently introduced a range of eSIMs for Japan. They offer seven different data-only eSIMs, starting from a basic 1GB, 8-day eSIM for ¥1,920, up to a substantial 50GB, 31-day eSIM for ¥4,900. They also offer a voice and data SIM.

Mobal uses the major Japanese network Docomo, which means you won’t have to worry about roaming. Their coverage is countrywide and offers 4G LTE speeds. Activating the data SIMs takes approximately 15 minutes. After 5 minutes of payment, we received an email with a link to their service website. Within an additional 10 minutes, our eSIM QR code was ready to be scanned.

In terms of performance, Mobal falls in the middle of the pack, with an average speed of 24.76Mbps. Websites loaded quickly, and video calling was smooth. Overall, it’s a reliable choice for an eSIM.

Mobal Voice + Data eSIM for Japan

Mobal also offers a voice + data eSIM that requires an initial fee of ¥2,970. Upon activation, you can choose a monthly plan ranging from 1GB/month for ¥1,650 to 30GB/month for ¥4,378. There is no minimum contract period or cancellation fees, making it suitable for both travelers and residents. This eSIM comes with a real Japanese phone number. We tested the 7GB plan.

Note: Due to voice-calling regulations in Japan, the voice + data eSIM cannot be emailed to customers. Instead, the access code will be posted to your overseas residence or available for pick-up in Japan. The application process requires advance registration, ID document upload, and delivery. Once you receive the package, you can activate your Mobal eSIM on their website by entering a 32-digit EID. Technical support is available via email and a web form, though most questions can be resolved by referring to Mobal’s FAQs page.

Airalo

Special offer: Order through our link and get 10% off. The discount is automatically applied at checkout.

If speed is your priority, Airalo is the eSIM provider for you. Airalo eSIMs roam on SoftBank, one of Japan’s major carriers, offering reliable data connectivity on the go. Their Moshi Moshi eSIM line includes packages for 7, 15, and 30 days. The 7-day package is the minimum, providing 1GB of data for $4.50. The 15-day plan offers 2GB, while the 30-day plans are available in 3GB, 5GB, 10GB, and 20GB increments. If you’re a heavy data user, the 20GB package is priced at $26.00.

Getting an Airalo eSIM is incredibly fast and convenient. We signed up for the 2GB/15-day Moshi Moshi eSIM, and within minutes of payment, we received our eSIM QR code. We were ready to go in no time. It’s important to note that signup is required for this eSIM.

In terms of speed, Airalo outperformed its competitors with an impressive average download speed of 141.61Mbps. Webpages loaded instantly, and YouTube videos streamed smoothly without any buffering. Even video calls were seamless. If you’re someone who relies heavily on data, Airalo is a great choice.

Jetpac

Jetpac, a Singapore-based eSIM provider, offers a range of plans for Japan. Starting from 3GB for ¥1,500 and going up to 25GB for ¥3,765, their eSIMs cater to various data needs. During our test, there was also a promotional 1GB plan available for ¥150. We opted for the 3GB eSIM, which was provisioned instantly upon payment.

When it comes to speed, Jetpac performed exceptionally well in our tests. The average download speed was an impressive 122.7Mbps, and both streaming and video calling were smooth without any lag.

To use the Jetpac eSIM, you need to enable roaming. Once activated, it will roam on the local SoftBank and KDDI networks. Jetpac encourages customers to use their app, though it’s not mandatory. An added perk is that the Jetpac eSIM provides access to 1,100 airport lounges worldwide, which can be useful in case of flight delays or cancellations.

Ubigi

Ubigi is a global eSIM provider offering eSIMs for over 200 destinations, including Japan. Although relatively new in the Japanese eSIM market, they offer plans to meet most travelers’ needs. From affordable 500MB single-day plans for ¥390 to robust month-long plans with 50GB of data for ¥9,700, Ubigi has something for everyone.

Placing an order with Ubigi is simple and straightforward. After payment, a QR code is emailed to you almost instantly. Just scan the code, and you’re ready to go. Like other providers on this list, Ubigi works with NTT Docomo to provide reliable coverage across Japan. It’s worth noting that Ubigi’s parent company is Transatel, which is owned by NTT.

We tested the 3GB Ubigi eSIM, which delivered an average speed of 73.72Mbps. Webpages loaded quickly, and YouTube playback was smooth without any buffering. Video calls were lag-free. Overall, Ubigi offers excellent quality and speed at a competitive price point.

World eSIM

World eSIM is brought to you by Vision Inc., the company behind the well-known travel Wi-Fi provider Ninja Wifi. They offer nine eSIM options for Japan, featuring various combinations of data and validity periods. While we ordered the 3GB/5-day plan for $8.50, you can also choose from 5GB/10-day, 10GB/15-day, and 15GB/20-day eSIMs. If you prefer a daily data option, there are 500MB/day x 3 days ($4.50), as well as 1GB/day and 2GB/day alternatives.

The process of obtaining our World eSIM was straightforward. After signing up on their website and completing the payment, we received an email with a QR code instantly. Scanning the code took seconds, and we were up and running. During our tests, download speeds averaged 99.15Mbps, and streaming was smooth. We found that World eSIM performed exceptionally well for video calls. Overall, it’s a reliable choice.

Which is Better for Your Japan Trip: An eSIM or a Physical SIM Card?

While the eSIM market continues to expand, physical SIM cards still offer better options in terms of flexibility and features. For example, only one of the eSIMs mentioned here includes a Japanese phone number with calling capabilities (Mobal). So, if you prefer more convenience and a wider range of options, check out our guide to prepaid SIM cards for travel to Japan.

It’s also worth noting that installing an eSIM may require a second device to display the QR code for scanning. If you don’t have access to a second device, you’ll need assistance from someone who can take a photo of your QR code and scan it from their phone.

How Did We Test the Japan eSIMs?

Testing the performance of eSIMs is challenging due to the transient nature of network conditions. Even with the same phone, in the same location, and within a short time interval, speed and latency results can vary significantly.

For our tests, we rented six identical Google Pixel 7a handsets and took them to a studio in Tokyo. While our video producer recorded the tests, our CEO installed the eSIMs and went through the following process:

  • Conducted five speed tests using the Ookla app and different test servers to assess download and upload speeds, as well as latency.
  • Watched videos on YouTube to evaluate streaming capabilities.
  • Made short video calls to check for any lags or delays.

Additionally, our CEO retested some eSIMs the following day at a different location in Tokyo to compare results. We acknowledge that our testing method is not perfect; however, it provided us with a good understanding of the performance of the different eSIMs. We excluded any eSIMs from this article that raised concerns regarding the ordering process, performance, or pricing.

A Word on Speed Tests: We strongly advise against running speed tests with your eSIM, as they consume a significant amount of data. A single test could easily use 300MB or more.

While we strive for accuracy, please note that information is subject to change. Prices mentioned are approximate. This post was initially published in October 2020 and was last updated by Carey Finn on February 28th, 2024.

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