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Buying a SIM Card in Japan

Japan Travel Tips 517
Buying a SIM Card in Japan

Many visitors in Japan would prefer purchasing a local SIM Card because of the high cost of roaming or the failure to call internationally. To purchase a SIM card in Japan, you need to first confirm whether you phone is unlocked and can operate with the local internet, which most of modern cell phones do have the problem. You can order a SIM card in advance or purchase one upon arrival. As foreign visitors continue to increase, purchasing a SIM card has made very convenient. Travelers can easily find SIM card in many booths in airports or electronic stores. A prepaid SIM card is probably the most easy to use. However, it is still recommended to find out which type of SIM card is the best for your phone. Thus make sure to confirm with the seller and test out phone when purchasing the card.

In Japan, though you can find free Wifi in most public areas such as bus stations, airports, shopping centers, restaurants, and convenient store, wifi service is very limited in outskirt sightseeing or moving vehicles. Thus, getting a SIM card for your phone is probably the best option and most affordable option for internet during your Japan tours.


Where to buy a SIM Card

SIM card can be purchased at many international airports including Tokyo Narita Airport, Chubu Centrair Airport, and Osaka Kansai Airport. At the arrival halls, you will find counters selling SIM card, and these counters usually have translators to assist you. Based on your need and length of visit, the staffs can help you to choose a plan and the best SIM card, as well as to install the SIM card.

You can also purchase a SIM card outside of the airports. SIM cards are widely available in electronic stores such as Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera stores in Tokyo, Ginza, Akihabara, Osaka, and Umeda. Thus, many tourists choose to purchase SIM cards at these electronic stores. Some of the stores provide English translation service or installing service.

Recently, places like Narita Airport have added more and more SIM card vending machine that traveler can easily locate at the hallways after exiting custom.  Buying a SIM card from vending machine is very simple: scan your passport document and submit a payment. However, be careful to check if your phone has been unlock and is compatible with the SIM card. Also, make sure to purchase the correct SIM card size, or else it will not fit in your phone. Lastly, purchasing SIM card from vending machines requires users to input names and passport information.


Recommended SIM card in Japan

JAPAN TRAVEL SIM Card -- Among the many plans, 1GB/30 days and 2 GB/3 months are the most popular. These prepaid plans usually cover service throughout Japan. For the prepaid cards, such as the IIJmio, you can purchase additional discount cards (500MB/1500 or 2GB/3000) after exceeding data limit. You can simply add data online by providing SIM card code. For details, consult the staff when you purchase the SIM card.

JP SMART SIM Card -- Through JP Smart SIM, you do not need to purchase a phone or enter into any contract to use Docomo (one of the three largest telecommunication companies in Japan). Docomo allows you to call and use internet, and service covers the entire Japan. JP Smart SIM provides the greatest download speed at 375 Mbps. To meet your need on calls and mobile data, different plans at competitive prices are available. For example, a plan with calls (at number 050) + 3 GB Data + SMS Basic and other features only costs ¥2,432/month. JP Smart SIM also allows international calls at affordable rates: to the US at ¥8/min, to Korea at ¥15/min, to the China at ¥6/min, to the Taiwan at ¥7.5/min, to the Philippines at ¥42/min, etc. You can also check other countries rate on the official website.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is the most convenient place to purchase a SIM card?
    If you are traveling internationally to Japan, we recommend getting a SIM card at the airport. International airports like Tokyo Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Osaka Airport have SIM cards stores. For recommendation on SIM card, please refer to details in our articles.
  • What is the best prepaid SIM card in Japan for Tourist?
    According to the online feedbacks from foreign travelers, the best prepaid SIM cards is the IIJMIO Travel SIM. Additionally, JP SMART SIM is also a top choice.
  • Can I put a Japanese SIM card in my cellphone?
    Most of the modern phones are compatible with the Japanese SIM Card. You may check your phone store to confirm. Foreign guests can consider short term prepaid SIM card with unlimited data.
  • Where can I buy a SIM card in Japan Airport?
    SIM card can be purchased at many international airports including Tokyo Narita Airport, Chubu Centrair Airport, and Osaka Kansai Airport at the arrival halls.
  • How much is a SIM card in Japan?
    The prices for SIM cards vary depending on the provider you choose. For specific pricing, you may consult the retail store. Sometime you may find discount on combined plans.
  • Do I need SIM card in Japan?
    If you are staying in Japan over 3 days or need frequent calls, we recommend purchasing a SIM Card because it will be very handy when free Wifi is not available.
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