Heading to the land of the rising sun? You might think that travelling to such a technologically advanced country would mean you have no problems getting connected. But Japan can present some difficulties for short term visitors, keep reading to find the best SIM card for Japan.
By law, visitors on a tourist visa are not allowed to buy voice SIM cards, so your only option is to buy a prepaid data only SIM, and then use VOIP apps if you need to make calls. On this page I look at the options for buying different tourist data only sims and then look at another option of renting a voice SIM.
Some airports have vending machines, and some have 7-11 stores where you can purchase SIMs. You can also head to an electronic store. Yodobashi Camera and BIC Camera stores will stock these SIM cards and can be found in the centre of all major towns and cities. These SIMs are not triple cut and the Nano, Micro and full size SIMs come in different packaging; so make sure you pick the right one.
Alternatively, you can order a SIM online, and have it delivered either internationally to your home, or to your hotel to pick-up on arrival.
Japan has three major phone networks, and has no GSM network but widespread 3G and 4G/LTE. So if your device is not 3G/4G, then it will not work.
Phone / Wireless Hotspot Mifi rental
If you really need to make phone calls, and can’t use VOIP services like Skype; then renting a phone is another option.To get around the SIM laws, companies offer rental of phones and wifi hotspots. These can be sent to your hotel, or picked up from electronics stores and at the airport. Try: https://www.rentafonejapan.com/
If your phone is locked and you cannot fit a data SIM card, you can also rent a wifi hotspot from this company. Alternatively you could place your data SIM in your own mifi.
There is a growing number of free Wifi hotspots, in shops, stations, hotels and trains etc.
Can’t be bothered with buying a local SIM in Japan? Want to buy before you fly?
‘Our top pick’
Just like the BMobile SIM, the iijmio travel SIM is easy to purchase, and quick to setup, with comprehensive instructions in many different languages, but this one comes with options for longer stays. English customer support is also available.
It also includes the Brastel Card, which acts as a prepaid calling card; allowing you to make calls through an app. By topping up the app you can then make calls through it to regular land and mobile phone lines. Just like Skype or other (VOIP service).
1 GB for 30 days
2 GB for 90 days
It also Includes access to free wifi hotspots across Japan, and comes with nifty souvenirs – origami paper and decorative screen.
Speed: Up to 375 Mbps download speed/50 Mbps upload speed
Where to buy? You can buy online, through Amazon, or locally. Find a list of shops here.
B Mobile, one of the largest and oldest providers, have a good reputation and extensive coverage across the country.
They offer a visitor SIM which gives you 5GB of data over 21 days, at a cost of 3480 yen, or 30 USD. If you use up all the 5GB before 21 days, then you can continue to use it at a cost of 500 yen or 4.4USD per day.
Although coverage is extensive in built-up regions, it is not in the wilderness or mountains, so be careful if visiting national parks.
Where to Buy?
At these shops, or online, it can be shipped to your hotel or a local post office to be held until your arrival. Purchase online from the site or buy from Amazon and have delivered at home.
So, which is the best SIM Card for Japan Visitors?
For most purposes we would recommend the Iijmio tourist SIM, as it is a great all-rounder and traveller friendly!
If you are more concerned about accessing data, check out the offerings by eConnect.
Phone Numbers in Japan
Mobile phone numbers in Japan are eleven digits long and start with an area code. The country code for Japan is +81.
To reach your mobile in Japan from abroad, callers will need to dial 0081 and then your number. 00 (International Access Code) 81 (Japan country code).
Emergency and Police: 110
Ambulance & Fire service: 119
Speaking clock: 117
Useful Japanese Phrases
Japanese people generally possess at least basic ability in English, but don’t expect this in rural areas.
Greeting: Kon nichi wa
Do you understand English? Eigo wakari masuka
I cannot speak Japanese: watashi nihongo wa hanasemasen
I don’t understand: Wakarimasen
Where are the SIM cards: Shimu kādo wa doko desu ka
Thank you: Arigato