1. Easiest! How to get the best SIM card in Japan

Easiest! How to get the best SIM card in Japan

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Masaya Osada

Masaya Osada

Born and raised in Kyoto. I love traveling. The more I was exposed to foreign culture, the more I realized how fascinating Kyoto is. This is why I am writing this English article for you to make your trip in Kyoto much more enjoyable!

 

The Internet is the essential tool in modern life. As a traveler, I know that you feel uneasy when you cannot use the internet in the foreign country. So in this article, I would like to introduce recommended SIM cards according to your preferences.

Please kindly note that all the information is as of August 2017, and prices are changeable depending on the season and location.

■Which SIM card is recommended?

 

Basically, it depends on the length of your stay and frequency of using the internet. You wish to buy the stable and fast SIM card at the lowest price, don’t you? When it comes to stability and speed, there is almost no difference between each SIM card unless you go to the very rural area or underground. I would like to say proudly that you don’t have to worry about Japanese infrastructure of the internet. 

However, it is easily imagined that you cannot decide which one to buy because there are too many SIM cards for travelers.

A quick solution to your concern, buy the “FREETEL Prepaid Data SIM for Japan” as soon as you arrive at an airport in Japan or downtown.

 

 

■FREETEL Prepaid Data SIM for Japan

 

Photo from FREETEL

 

Most surprisingly, the feature of this SIM card is that you can enjoy Free data access to Facebook, LINE, Wechat, WhatsApp, and Kakaotalk. The data amount your purchased will not be deducted. This SIM card enables you to communicate with your friends and post your great pictures on SNS instantly.

Although YouTube, Google Maps, and Instagram are not included in the free plan, I believe the data plans that “FREETEL Prepaid Data SIM for Japan” offer is quite reasonable compared to other SIM card. For just in case where you spend too much data, don’t worry you can top up your data easily with recharge coupon.

 

Price Duration

High-Speed Data

Slow Speed Data Top Up (refill) Voice
call
SMS Personal
 Hotspot
¥2,280 7 days 1GB No limitation for high-speed data (4G LTE)
Free data access to Facebook, LINE, Wechat, WhatsApp, and Kakaotalk.
The data amount your purchased will not be deducted.
500MB: 980 JPY × ×
¥3,480 15 days 2GB
¥3,980 30 days 3GB
¥4,980 30 days 5GB


  

■Wi-Ho! Data & Voice Prepaid SIM

Photo from Telecom Square 

Do you need to use phone call? Most of SIM cards on the list cannot be used for a voice call, but “Wi-Ho! Data & Voice Prepaid SIM” allows you to call for 10 minutes for free as many as you want. This means that if you hope to continue your conversation over 10 minutes, just hang up once, and then call your friends again!

Price Duration High-Speed Data
 
Slow Speed Data Top Up (refill) Voice
call
SMS Personal
 Hotspot
¥5,500 15 days 1GB ×
You can use free phone call for 10 minutes as many as possible
×
¥7,500 3GB

 

■Japan Welcome SIM

Photo from IT media NEWS

Before we proceed to next section, please let me introduce interesting SIM card that was launched recently.
“Japan Welcome SIM”, is operated by NTT Docomo that is the one of the most dominant telecommunication company in Japan. What surprised me was their new promotion method that you can gain free data by watching ads /answering questionnaires.
Furthermore, you can reserve a SIM card beforehand on their website, and you can collect it when you land at the airport.

Price Duration High-Speed Data Slow Speed Data Top Up (refill) Voice
call
SMS Personal
 Hotspot
¥1,000 15 days × For either plan, you can use an unlimited 128kbps connection for the first 15 days.  100MB: 200JPY 
500MB: 700 JPY
 (4G LTE)
Watching ads /answering
questionnaires (3G LTE)
× Only
receiving
¥1,700 500MB

 

■Hou about the rest??

 

Honestly, the rest of SIM cards are not so good in terms of cost performance. I introduce them on the list just for comparison. Of course, I am NOT saying that these SIM Cards are bad. 

  Price Duration High-Speed Data Slow Speed Data Top Up (refill) Voice
call
SMS Personal
 Hotspot
JAPAN TRAVEL
SIM CARD
¥2,200 30 days 1GB ×
You need to top up once high-speed data is finished.
500MB:1,500 JPY
2GB: 3,000JPY 
× ×
¥4,000 3 months 2GB
U-mobile
Prepaid
¥2,000 7 days 200MB/day  Speed goes down to 200kbps once it reaches 200MB/day until 11:59 PM that day.
The limination will be lifted the following day.
× × × ×
¥3,000 15 days

 

 

■How to buy a SIM Card at Haneda airport. (HND)

Photo from shimajiro@mobiler

When you land at International Arrival Hall of Haneda Airport (2F), you will find “Air BIC CAMERA,” which offers a variety of electrical products all over Japan. Are you struggling to make a choice?

So, trust me, just buy “FREETEL Prepaid Data SIM for Japan” as I said above and ask the staffs to help you to activate! Please note that operating hours of “Air BIC CAMERA” is from 7 am to 10 pm.

Photo from shimajiro@mobiler

If you are looking for “Wi-Ho! Data & Voice Prepaid SIM”, to use voice call, you may visit “Telecom Square” on the same 2 Flour.

Photo from shimajiro@mobiler

There are many alternative shops you can buy SIM card such as 7 Eleven and LAWSON. They are both convenience store that literally very convenient!

Photo from shimajiro@mobiler

 

■How to buy a SIM Card at Narita airport. (NRT)

Photo from Aviation Wire

What you have to do to get a SIM card is exactly same as the way of Haneda Airport. But “FREETEL Prepaid Data SIM for Japan” is available only at “Air BIC CAMERA” located in the 4 Floor of Terminal 2.
The reason why I stick to recommend “Air BIC CAMERA” is that they guarantee there is no gap in offering price between the airport and the city. Don’t be the sacrifice of airport price.

Photo from shimajiro@mobiler

Although you will find many vending machines of SIM card, they tend to be a little bit more expensive than the city. I know that you are uneasy without the internet but it would be wiser not to rush to the vending machine.

You can find “Wi-Ho! Data & Voice Prepaid SIM” at “Telecom Square,” at International Arrival. (1F)

Photo from shimajiro@mobiler

 

■How to buy a SIM Card at Kansai airport. (KIX)

Photo from shimajiro@mobiler

If you are arriving at Kansai airport, I have to regret to say that “FREETEL Prepaid Data SIM for Japan” is not found there. “Wi-Ho! Data & Voice Prepaid SIM” is offered at “Telecom Square,” 1 Flour of international arrival.

Photo from shimajiro@mobiler

 

■How to buy a SIM Card in the major cities. (Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto)

 “FREETEL Prepaid Data SIM for Japan” is available at “Yodobashi Camera Multimedia” and “BIC CAMERA.” They have many branches around major stations as the following map shows.

Yodobashi Camera and BIG CAMERA at Kyoto station

 

Alternatively, you can find vending machines at most of the hub stations.

(Pedestrian Walkway at Kyoto Station) 

Is Free Wi-Fi available?

Before the end, you may have the stereotype that Japan is famous for technology so that Free Wi-Fi can be found easily, but unfortunately, I think your expectation will be broken. Of course, Japan is making a lot of efforts to improve Free Wi-Fi in order to prepare for Tokyo Olympic 2020, but personally, I think that it would be safer to buy a SIM Card so that you can use Google Translator and Google Maps whenever you want.

Anyway, have a nice trip in Japan!

References

・Haneda Airport (HND)
Internet and Cell Phone Rentals: http://www.haneda-airport.jp/inter/en/premises/service/internet.html

・Narita Airport (NRT)
Cellular Phone, Wi-Fi Rental and SIM Card Sales Locations: https://www.narita-airport.jp/en/service/svc_19

・Kansai Airport (KIX)
| Service Facilities | Rental Services: http://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/en/service/rental/

 

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Author Profile

Masaya Osada
Masaya Osada
Born and raised in Kyoto. I love traveling. The more I was exposed to foreign culture, the more I realized how fascinating Kyoto is. This is why I am writing this English article for you to make your trip in Kyoto much more enjoyable!