If you’re coming to Japan and are looking for a Prepaid SIM to keep you going during your time here, we’ve got a great guide for you.
Due to strict regulations in government telecommunication policies (tied to concerns of national security) it’s notoriously difficult to get a Prepaid SIM Card with a phone number in Japan. This post will primarily focus on Data only options (with one exception). Based on how long you plan to stay, and your data needs, the best option varies greatly. Not to mention, prices have a huge range just depending on the company and the location where you buy your Prepaid Japan SIM.
Buying at the Airport
Unsurprisingly, purchasing your SIM Card at the airport, while it might be the most convenient, is one of the most expensive options. You’ll find SIM Cards for sale at all major airports at individual kiosks, card vending machines, and from convenience stores. Sure, this is one of the fastest, seemingly easiest options, but this is certainly the most expensive option, and during peak seasons, cards are likely to sell out.
In addition to the upfront cost, one of the big catches is that there is no one to assist with setup, and in the case that you were not able to use the SIM, no refund is available. So do you want to possibly empty your wallet of 7200JPY if there is no guarantee that the item will work, and there is no guarantee later that you can even get your money back? Let’s just say, it’s a risk.
Buying at Major Electronics Stores (Biccamera, Yodobashi Camera)
While options are limited here, going into one of these places to pick up a SIM can mean multilingual customers support, and even some places that will go through the process of seeing if the phone is unlocked, putting in the APN setting and making sure your SIM is in working order.
Short Term VS. Long Term
For short term SIMs, you will find a few different options available for you. SIMs often come in denominations of 7, 10, 14, and sometimes (though more rarely) 30 days. However, you will be hard pressed to find anything longer than 30 days. The limited length of the prepaid cards for sale has to do with Japanese telecommunications law. In general, the use of cell service is limited to those who are residents with a verifiable visa status and address. (These measures are taken with the aim of preventing crime, as phone service that cannot be traced prevents a risk. The same is true of why phone numbers cannot be given for Prepaid Cards.)
SIM Rental As an Alternative
For short term stays, Prepaid SIMs can be a good choice, but for long term users, rentals can be cheaper and easier to use. Not to mention, choosing a rental is better for the environment! You can avoid one time use plastic an paper packaging, in addition to the SIM card itself.
We recommend our parent company, CDJapan Rental, which provides SIM rentals from 5 days to 1 year (extension available) as well as Pocket WiFI rentals. For rental SIMs, choose between two plans, either 200MB of 350MB of high speed data service per day.
Want EVEN MORE information on purchasing your SIM cards?
Visit our other Guides: