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Buying SIM Cards in Japan

Buying SIM Cards in Japan

No country has intertwined innovation and tradition like Japan has. Its unique cultural landscape combined with its diverse cities and natural wonders has attracted more than 28 million people in 2017 alone. Its rich history is still evident in its landscapes. Boasting cities like the busy and neon light saturated cities of Osaka and Tokyo, the winter wonderland which is Hokkaido and tranquil landscapes of Kyoto and Okinawa. It also boasts the magnificent Mt. Fuji, considered the perfect shape of a mountain. The country not only has beautiful tourist spots but offers fine cuisine that will make your mouth water.

Though considered to be one of the most expensive countries in the world, with its unique culture and vast number of tourist destinations and activities, the country attracts both first time travelers and experienced travelers. If you’re looking forward on travelling to Japan, we’ll help you get one thing off your mind. We will guide you on buying a SIM card for your travel in this exciting country.

The First Thing You Need To Do

For first time travelers in Japan, the first thing you need to with regards to switching on a Japanese SIM card is to actually get your phone unlocked. Having an unlocked phone means that your phone is compatible with any SIM card and only then will you be able to utilize your phone to make phone calls, text messages and utilize data. If you can do this before going to Japan that would be great as it will save you from a lot of hassle.

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Choosing A SIM Card

The first thing worth mentioning is that in order to acquire a SIM card in Japan, you will need your travel visa and passport. Another is that in 2006, Japan has passed a law making it harder for non-residents to get a SIM card that allows SMS. Though not impossible, you’ll have to get it way ahead of you Japan trip.
Luckily, this law does not apply to SIM cards with data-only plans and data and voice only plans. If you think about it, once you have a data plan, you can utilize it to make text messages as there are already a number of apps offering the same services, especially if you’re in the country for just a week or two. Here are the SIM card packages you can avail from various service providers:

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Mobal

Mobal is one of the biggest service providers in Japan and is one of the very few service providers who offers voice included in data only plans. Their SIM cards costs ¥4,000 for 7GB worth of data and calls which is good for 15 days. For ¥6,000 you’ll get 7GB worth of data and calls which is good for 30 days.

They also have a data-only SIM card called “Mobal Japan Tourist SIM”. For ¥2,990 you can avail the SIM card and it comes with 3GB worth of data and is good for 30 days. Or you can avail the same SIM card for ¥5,990 and it comes with 10GB worth of data and is also good for 30 days.

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Simcard Geek

Simcard geek stands out from its competitors as they are the only service provider that offers unlimited data plan. For ¥9,000, you can avail their SIM card which comes with unlimited data and lasts for 30 days, for ¥8,000 you can also get unlimited data but lasts only for 15 days, the same goes for their ¥5,000 pack which also offers unlimited data but lasts only for seven days.

U-Mobile

U-Mobile is also another big service provider in Japan. For ¥2,000 you can avail their SIM card and it comes with 1.4GB worth of data and is good for seven days, alternatively, you can also avail it for ¥3,500 and come with 3GB worth of data which is good for 15 days.

All Japan Communications

All Japan Communications offers a SIM card package for ¥5,000 and it comes with 4GB worth of data and is good for 15 days.

OCN

OCN offers a SIM card package for ¥3,218 which comes with 100MB worth of data and lasts for seven days, alternatively, you can also avail the same SIM card that comes with the same data allowance but lasts for 14 days for ¥3,780.

In terms of coverage, all the service providers have good to average coverage throughout the country. It is strong in major cities but one may experience congestion problems due to the number of users.

Another thing that Japan uniquely offers is pocket WiFi or mobile router rentals. This is best for people who don’t want to go through the hassle of unlocking their phones to accommodate a foreign SIM card. One great example of a store where you can rent a pocket WiFi is Rentafone Japan. It costs around ¥5900 to rent one for a week and if you decide that you need it for a longer duration it costs ¥300 per day. You can also rent a phone which costs ¥3900 per week and costs ¥300 per day.

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Where do I buy one?

All the service providers offer their products in airport shops. Mobal, Simcard Geek and All Japan Communications offer their products online and are available for international shipping (unfortunately OCN and U-Mobile doesn’t offer the same services). Getting it ahead of time is a great choice if you want to plan your trip ahead.

Though we recommend you to buy it from the official stores and authorized resellers as assistance in setting up the SIM card is readily available, though please note that this usually comes for a cost. You can also buy SIM cards in Yodabashi Camer and BIC Camera, which are spread throughout in the city. Another place you can buy SIM cards in Japan are in JR Trains and Tokyo Subways.

Conclusion

Japan’s are one of the countries with leading innovation when it comes to technology and is reflected even in their SIM card service providers. If you want to utilize your own phone, remember to get it unlocked beforehand so that it can accommodate a Japanese SIM card. Make sure that what you’ll get will accommodate your needs and the duration of your stay. If you don’t want to go through the hassle, you can just rent a phone or a pocket WiFi, a service that is unique to Japan.

Written by Gear Up To Travel

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