Japan Travel Guide: Prepaid SIM Card Comparison and Recommendations

Planning a trip to Japan and wondering how to stay connected? Prepaid SIM cards are a convenient way to access mobile data and keep in touch while exploring this captivating country. In this guide, we’ll compare and recommend some of the best prepaid SIM card options for your journey through Japan. Whether you’re navigating the bustling streets of Tokyo, admiring the serene beauty of Kyoto, or venturing off the beaten path, having a reliable data connection will enhance your travel experience.

Popular Prepaid SIM Cards in Japan

We’ve conducted a search for the currently popular prepaid SIM cards for internet use in Japan. Below, we’ve compiled a table listing essential information such as usage duration, price, and included data volume for comparison. You can choose the prepaid SIM card that best suits your needs based on the duration of your stay in Japan, your usual internet usage habits, and the amount of data you require.

Company Card Name Period and Data Price Where to Buy
CDJapan Rental docomo Prepaid SIM 16 days(50GB)
31 days(50GB)
3,900 JPY
4,900 JPY
CDJapan Rental
SoftBank Unlimited Prepaid SIM 8 days(Unlimited data)
16 days(Unlimited data)
31 days(Unlimited data)
4,100 JPY
5,200 JPY
7,100 JPY
Sakura Mobile TRAVEL SIMUNLIMITED DATA 8 days(Unlimited data)
15 days(Unlimited data)
30 days(Unlimited data)
4,950 JPY
7,150 JPY
9,900 JPY
Sakura Mobile
IIJmio IIJ Prepaid Pack 2 months(2GB) 4,170 JPY BIC Camera etc.
b-mobile VISITOR SIM 10 days(5GB)
21 days(7GB)
1,980 JPY
2,970 JPY
b-mobile
softbank Prepaid SIM for Travel 31 days(3GB) 6,500 JPY Vending machine only
Wi-Ho! Wi-Ho! Prepaid SIM Card 7+1 days(Unlimited data)
15+1 days(Unlimited data)
30+1 days(Unlimited data)
6,000 JPY
7,000 JPY
8,000 JPY
Wi-Ho!

How do I pick up the prepaid SIM card after purchase?

Almost all companies offer delivery services to the airport, so you can directly collect the prepaid SIM card you purchased at the airport.

Most companies choose the airport post office as the delivery destination, as is the case with CDJapan Rental’s recommended prepaid SIM card. Before you arrive in Japan, they will send the product you ordered to the airport’s post office where you will soon arrive. After collecting your luggage, you can proceed to the airport post office with your passport to collect your package, using the email with the package number they sent you in advance.

CDJapan Rental has a great deal on pocket wifi, with a range of flexible plans starting at ¥187/day.
Japan Pocket Wifi Rental
UNLIMTED DATA SIM CARD
Japan Travel Prepaid SIM card

A few points to note:

Currently, Kansai International Airport in Osaka does not have a post office (it used to have one, but it closed in March 2021 and doesn’t seem to have plans for reopening). Therefore, if you are entering Japan from Osaka, you won’t be able to collect your package from the airport post office for now. If the prepaid SIM card company you’ve chosen doesn’t have a counter at the airport or another way to send to the airport, we recommend having your package directly delivered to your hotel or Airbnb accommodation in Osaka. Of course, you can also choose to store it at other post offices within Osaka.

Regarding the post office in Osaka city that we recommend for storage and pick-up, you can find details in this article:

Poste Restante in Osaka: Alternate Pickup Locations after KIX Post Office Closure

For those who are not familiar with what ‘kyoku dome’ (局留め, storage and pick-up service) means, you can check this article:

How to Receive Your Mail at a Post Office in Japan

When collecting the package, postal workers need to verify your identity. For foreigners, they typically compare the name on your passport with the name on the package. Therefore, when using the post office’s storage and pick-up service, make sure that the name you use when ordering the prepaid SIM card matches the name on your passport to avoid any issues during pick-up.

questions about using prepaid SIM cards in Japan

Can I use a prepaid SIM card in Japan?

In general, if you have a SIM-free (unlocked) phone, you can use a prepaid SIM card in Japan. However, it’s possible that your phone may not be compatible with Japan’s specific network bands, which could prevent you from using a prepaid SIM card in Japan. Some companies offer insurance when purchasing a SIM card, which can be useful in case your phone isn’t compatible. We recommend companies like CDJapan Rental and Sakura MOBILE, which provide insurance options.

Can prepaid SIM cards from Japan be shipped to my country?

Typically, prepaid SIM cards sold in Japan are not designed for delivery outside Japan. However, you can pre-purchase a SIM card online, and the supplier will have it ready for pick-up at the airport’s post office or their airport counter. This option is convenient when you arrive in Japan.

Are unlimited data prepaid SIM cards in Japan really unlimited?

Yes, they are. However, even with unlimited data plans, Japanese SIM cards need to adhere to the Fair Usage Policy (FUP). The FUP policy allows carriers to temporarily throttle data speeds for users who consume excessive data in a short period. Speeds are reduced to 128Kbps to 512Kbps or varying levels, depending on the specific card. During this time, activities like texting, using Line, or checking Google Maps with low data usage are still possible, but activities such as watching YouTube videos or scrolling Instagram may not work well. This limitation usually automatically lifts after a few hours.

How do I activate a prepaid SIM card in Japan?

The activation process may vary depending on the supplier, but typically, it involves inserting the SIM card into your phone and following the instructions provided by the supplier. Activation is usually a quick process, and you can start using the SIM card immediately once it’s activated.

Can I make calls or send text messages with a prepaid SIM card in Japan?

Unless the prepaid SIM card specifically states that it allows voice calls or SMS, you won’t be able to make calls or send texts. Some suppliers do offer SIM cards that include SMS and data, such as CDJapan Rental. These SIM cards have a monthly data limit and can be used for SMS, making them suitable for registering with websites or apps that require SMS verification. These cards are priced at 4,400 yen per month.

Can I use eSIM in Japan?

Yes, you can use eSIM in Japan if your device, such as a phone, tablet, or smartwatch, supports eSIM technology.

Please note that specific conditions may vary between different SIM card providers, so it’s a good idea to check with the provider you choose for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

 

Alternative Internet Options to Prepaid SIM Cards

Accessing the Internet via Public Wi-Fi

Currently, you can find public free Wi-Fi in some cafes, restaurants, shopping districts, and even on Shinkansen (bullet trains) in Japan.

Using free Wi-Fi has the advantage of being cost-free; you only need to register and log in to use it. However, there are several disadvantages to public free Wi-Fi.

Not all places have free Wi-Fi available, and you might frequently experience disconnected periods. Even if you stay at a café using their free Wi-Fi for an extended period, you might face disconnection every half an hour, necessitating a re-login. Due to a large number of users sharing the same network, the network speed may not meet your expectations. Lastly, public Wi-Fi is open to everyone, and security cannot be guaranteed. It’s recommended not to enter credit card or personal information while using free Wi-Fi to ensure safety.

Renting a Pocket Wi-Fi in Japan

If you decide not to buy a prepaid SIM card in Japan, another option is renting a portable Wi-Fi device. Many companies in Japan offer this service, including CDJapan Rental, which was mentioned earlier.

Renting a portable Wi-Fi device in Japan offers several advantages. It’s as simple as turning it on, and no specific setup or activation is required. If you are traveling with friends or family, you can share the same portable Wi-Fi device without the need for multiple purchases or rentals. Additionally, if you have multiple devices, such as a phone, iPad, and a laptop, and you want them all to access the internet simultaneously, a portable Wi-Fi device can accommodate multiple devices. For those who need to answer work calls regularly, renting a portable Wi-Fi device lets you keep your original phone’s SIM card, ensuring that you remain connected to both the internet and important calls.

However, there are some downsides to renting a portable Wi-Fi device. It’s bulkier than a SIM card, and it needs to be charged every night. Prepaid SIM cards can simply be inserted into your phone, making them less likely to be forgotten (unless you forget your phone). On the other hand, a portable Wi-Fi device must be turned on every time you go out, possibly leading to the risk of losing it or causing damage that requires compensation.

Using Roaming Services in Japan

Another option is using roaming services in Japan. This allows you to use your mobile plan from your home country without the need to purchase a local SIM card. It’s convenient for those who want to avoid the hassle of buying a SIM card in Japan and don’t want to deal with pickup locations at the airport.

However, the convenience of roaming services comes at a cost. Activating international roaming and using data in Japan is considerably more expensive than using a local prepaid SIM card. Even with unlimited data packages, international roaming can cost around 1,000 to 2,000 yen per day, and it may have limitations like a daily data cap due to Fair Usage Policies. In contrast, with a local prepaid SIM card, you can get more high-speed data, and any limitations can be quickly reset.

Please note that the costs and availability of these alternative internet options may vary depending on your home country and mobile carrier.

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CDJapan Rental has a great deal on pocket wifi, with a range of flexible plans starting at ¥187/day.
Japan Pocket Wifi Rental
UNLIMTED DATA SIM CARD
Japan Travel Prepaid SIM card
GetAround Japan is your number one travel guide, providing the latest information on visiting and living in Japan, with tips on what to eat, things to do, and places to stay.
Whether you're planning for a trip far in the future, or already in Japan in need of some fresh ideas, our archive of posts will help you find the best way to fill your time and get the most out of your travel experience. We provide you updates on serious policies that affect visitors and foreign residents while also keeping things light and fun with articles on quirky trends and pop culture.
How do we know how to provide visitors the information they need? Our affiliate company CDJapan Rental provides WIFI and Sim Card rentals to thousands of visitors to Japan every year. In other words, we are constantly in touch with and listening to the voices of our customers, and infuse our blog with the information they ask us for.
For inquiries, contact us here
=Company Information= CDJapan Rental (Neowing Corporation) 1-10-15-3F Nihonbashi Horidome Chuo, Tokyo 103-0012, Japan
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