Your Prepaid SIM Card Options for Travel in Japan

japan travel sim 90 days

You’ve just landed in Tokyo and you’re ready to explore the vibrant city. From the iconic Shibuya’s Scramble Crossing to trying out local cuisine, you want to capture every moment and share it with your friends. But how can you stay connected in Japan? In this article, we’ll provide you with the lowdown on getting a Japan SIM card for your data and voice communication needs during your visit.

Short-term Japan SIM options for tourists

Are you planning a short stay in Japan, ranging from a week to a couple of weeks? Maybe you just need to update your status every day and stay connected with your loved ones. Well, we have got you covered. By ordering a SIM card in advance, you can get online the moment you arrive at the airport. In this section, we’ll highlight some of our top picks for prepaid Japan SIM cards. Keep in mind that some of them can be recharged with extra data.

More about the providers

Mobal

Mobal offers a voice + data SIM that still provides data at slower speeds after you’ve used up your initial 7GB. They also have 60-day, 90-day, and long-term packages available. If you’re traveling from China, Mobal provides other prepaid packages to suit your needs. You can either opt for free shipping to many countries or conveniently pick up your SIM card at Narita or Haneda Airport, as well as other major airports and downtown areas in Tokyo and Osaka. The voice + data SIM carries an initial fee of ¥2,970, which is included in the price. On the data-only SIM, speeds may be temporarily reduced if you exceed 3GB of usage in a day.

Simcard Geek

Simcard Geek offers various SIM plans to cater to different travel needs. Similar to Mobal, they provide free shipping to many countries or the option to pick up your SIM at the post office in Narita Airport or other major airports in Japan. However, be aware that fair usage applies, and speeds may be temporarily reduced if you surpass 3GB of usage in a day.

Sakura Mobile

If you’re looking for a hassle-free experience, Sakura Mobile is the way to go. Their SIM cards come pre-activated, so all you need to do is plug and play. Additionally, they also offer longer-term SIM deals if you plan on extending your stay. Fair usage policies apply to data usage.

IIJmio

IIJmio offers Japan Travel SIMs, which are readily available at airports and electronic stores throughout the country. The maximum theoretical speed for their SIMs is 788Mbps, and you have the option to recharge with extra data. They even provide Chinese language call center support to assist you during your stay in Japan.

b-mobile

If network reliability is a priority for you, b-mobile operates on the NTT DoCoMo network. Similar to other providers, you can recharge your SIM card with extra data. They offer delivery options, with costs varying depending on your location. You can also find their SIM cards in electronics stores and Aeon. It’s important to note that b-mobile SIM cards must be returned after use.

Voice + data vs. data-only travel SIMs

While data-only SIMs have become popular among travelers, there are advantages to having a SIM card that allows you to make and receive calls and texts with an actual Japanese phone number.

Making voice calls with a Japan travel SIM

With the exception of Mobal’s voice + data SIM, most SIM cards for short-term travelers in Japan are data-only, meaning you won’t be able to make or receive phone calls or texts. Although you can use apps like Facebook Messenger, Skype, LINE, or WhatsApp for VoIP calls, relying solely on these apps may prove unreliable in certain situations. For instance, imagine finding yourself in need of roadside assistance after driving your rental car into a ditch. In such cases, having the ability to make a traditional phone call can be invaluable.

Apps that require a Japanese phone number

Additionally, there are certain apps that require a Japanese phone number, even if they can be downloaded outside of Japan. Popular examples include PayPay, Mobile Suica, Uber Eats, Wolt, Mercari, and Yahoo! Japan. If you plan on using any of these apps during your trip, it’s essential to ensure you have a voice + data SIM that provides you with a Japanese phone number.

Buying a SIM card in Tokyo (or elsewhere in Japan)

Didn’t plan ahead and find yourself in Tokyo without a SIM card? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. If you’re in a rush and want to find a suitable Japan SIM card quickly, head to a BIC Camera store or Yodobashi Camera. These stores offer a range of SIM cards, and popular options like Bic SIM cards are readily available. If you need assistance, you can approach the staff and say, “シムカードを探しています。私に合うのはどれですか?” (pronounced “Shimu kādo wo sagashiteimasu. Watashi ni au no wa dore desu ka?”), which translates to “I’m looking for a SIM card. Which one would be best for me?” Many stores have English-speaking staff to ensure a smooth transaction.

Japan SIM cards for tourists: Frequently asked questions

Got questions about Japan travel SIM cards? We’ve got the answers!

Which tourist SIM cards can I buy in Japan?

When you’re already in Japan, you can order Mobal SIMs and Rakuten prepaid SIMs online. Alternatively, you can consider options like BIC Camera SIMs or IIjmio’s Japan Travel SIM, both of which are available for purchase at the airport. For more detailed information, check out our guide on buying a SIM card after arrival, which applies not just to Tokyo but to all of Japan.

Where can I buy a Japan SIM card in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, or The Philippines?

If you’re traveling from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, or The Philippines, you have the option to order a SIM card online and have it delivered before your departure or pick it up at your local airport or landmark (depending on the provider). For example, you can collect Mobal SIM cards at Singapore’s Japan Rail Cafe or at the Nikkei Education Center in Hong Kong. Be sure to explore the available options for your region to find the most convenient solution.

How do I activate a Japan SIM card?

Activating a Japan SIM card is relatively straightforward. Each provider may have slightly different instructions, but generally, you’ll need to insert the SIM card into your phone and follow the provided instructions. The activation process is quick, and you should be able to start using your SIM card immediately.

Can I use an eSIM in Japan?

If you have a newer phone or tablet, you may have the option to use a software-based eSIM card instead of a physical SIM card for your trip to Japan. Be sure to check your device’s compatibility before considering this option. To learn more about eSIMs in Japan, we recommend reading our comprehensive guide on the topic.

Where are the big companies like SoftBank, Docomo, and AU?

As in most countries, Japan has network providers with their own retail brands, as well as smaller companies that operate on the networks of the larger players like Docomo. While you can purchase travel SIMs directly from big players’ stores or online platforms like Amazon, the smaller players often provide better value for travelers.

Alternatives to SIM cards for tourists in Japan

We understand that not everyone may prefer SIM cards or want to spend additional money on connectivity during their trip. If you’re looking for alternatives, we have a few options to consider.

Free wifi

Did you know that you can access free wifi from some major corporations in Japan? For example, a popular coffee chain offers free wifi to customers who register through a provided link. Additionally, Apple stores provide free wifi without the need to go through a registration process. Another option is to take advantage of the free wifi provided by the Tokyo Metro. If you’re a customer of a home internet provider participating in the Fon network, you can also use your own login and passcode on Fon hotspots, which are widespread throughout Tokyo. Many cafes and restaurants also offer free wifi, so keep an eye out for those options.

Renting a travel wifi router

If you have multiple devices or are traveling with a group, renting a portable wifi device may be a practical solution. Rental providers like Ninja Wifi offer travel routers with convenient pick-up and drop-off options at airports. These routers usually come with generous data allowances, ensuring you stay connected throughout your trip. For a more detailed guide on renting a travel wifi router in Japan, check out our popular resource.

Roaming in Japan

If you’re lucky, your mobile network outside of Japan may offer affordable roaming packages that include data usage in Japan. For example, T-Mobile USA customers on certain plans can enjoy free data in Japan. However, it’s important to carefully read the terms and conditions, as data speeds may be limited or throttled during your stay.

Video explainer of SIMs for travelers to Japan

Information regarding SIM cards for travelers in Japan is subject to change. To stay up to date, remember to check for regular updates in this article. (Last updated: March 15, 2023)

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