How To Buy A Prepaid SIM Card In Japan For Tourists - Updated 2022

How To Buy A Prepaid SIM Card In Japan For Tourists - Updated 2022
Alfie
Alfie 
Updated

If you’re visiting Japan, chances are your SIM card won’t work. However, buying a prepaid SIM card in Japan has become easier than before.

Japan is a beautiful country. Everything from the buildings to the meals is made in such a picture-perfect way. If you visit Japan you might find yourself taking photos and sharing all the cool stuff you found with those back home.

But, if you want to upload those pictures you might run into some difficulties. A lot of foreign SIM cards don’t work in Japan. Here is a guide to buying a SIM card in Japan for tourists.

Prepaid SIM card vs pocket WiFi

EM-GL-10P
Source: Photo by user わいはま used under CC BY-SA 3.0

SIM cards and pocket WiFis are by far the simplest options to stay connected for your trip in Japan.

Pros and cons of buying a SIM card in Japan

Pros
SIM cards are not without their charms though. Where the pocket WiFi needs to be returned to the company at the end of your trip, SIM cards are often disposable.

Sim cards are also more reliable and generally faster as the connection is only being used by one device. They are the cheaper and easier option for those who have a single phone they want to get online with. Unlike pocket WiFis, you also don’t have to worry about carrying a charger and charging the device with you.

Con
The only disadvantage of buying a SIM card is they are limited to phones that are unlocked or SIM-free. Most mobile phones are locked so they work only with a single SIM provider.

Pros and cons of renting a pocket WiFi in Japan

Pros
Pocket WiFis, or portable WiFi routers, are great for connecting groups or families. If you are traveling with friends or family this might be the best option for you.

They provide you with WiFi wherever you go, and depending on the model can connect a multiple devices to the internet at the same time.

These are just like normal WiFi routers. You can connect your phone, computer, tablet, and even games console up to them if you need to. Pocket WiFis often offer higher data limits than SIM cards and can even be unlimited.

Since the connection can be shared, they’re often the most cost-effective option. Pocket WiFis are really useful for those who need to use the internet a lot while traveling.

Con
The only disadvantage is that pocket WiFis have to be returned to the company at the end of your trip. Also, it uses a battery that needs to be charged.

Many of these companies specifically target international travellers, so they offer English support both on their website and over the phone, in case you have any problems during your trip.

For more information, check out our guide on pocket WiFi in Japan.

Order your pocket WiFi at any of these trusted websites:

Get a 30% discount for Ninja WiFi with the promo code trip101

Lucky WiFi

Data options and packages for a prepaid SIM card in japan

With all the different SIM card options, you might not know where to start. Don’t worry, we’re here to break down the different data and packages available.

There are those that give you minutes, those that are just for texting, and exclusively data SIM cards. Data-only SIM cards are the most popular way of getting online for tourists in Japan.

Prices and data allowance on prepaid SIM cards

Prepaid data SIM cards in japan are supplied by several different companies. The cheapest data SIM card being supplied by Mobal who offers 3GB 30-day data-only SIM cards. That costs around 3,490 JPY (30.75 USD).

As prices go up so does the data allowance. Prices for a prepaid data SIM card can range from 3,000 JPY (26.44 USD) a month to 15,000 JPY (132 USD) depending on your needs.

Companies offer a wide range of data plans, each with its pros and cons. The most expensive kind of data plan is unlimited, where there is no cap on your internet usage.

Internet speed on prepaid SIM cards

It is very normal to experience slow internet if you go over your data allotment in a short amount of time. This will make it difficult to upload big files such as videos or use selected data-eating apps. However, if you simply need data to get from A to B or to get restaurant recommendations on the go, a SIM card with limited data should be okay.

Where to buy your SIM card in Japan

Best prepaid SIM cards in Japan for tourists

The simplest way to get your hands on a SIM card is tor purchase it once you’re in Japan. Many tourists purchase their SIM cards at major airports.

You can also buy temporary SIM cards from large electronic shops such as Bic Camera.

There are many shops that specialize in technology, housing everything electronic from phones to kitchenware. These shops sell prepaid SIM cards of various different types.

But most of them are targeted towards foreign visitors, as the average Japanese person already has a contract SIM.

You can choose different data amounts, length of activity, and even different networks.

With JR Rail Pass

Another simple pre-order option is getting your SIM card bundled in with your JR rail pass. The JR rail pass gives you access to all JR trains across Japan. It was made to encourage tourism outside of Kyoto and Tokyo.

With the pass, you can travel between the two major cities by bullet train as well as other lesser-known spots. Along with your JR rail pass, you can get a SIM card that is designed to work all across the country, even in the more rural places.

When you buy the pass the SIM and JR rail pass can be posted together to your address in your home country.

With Mobal

These SIM cards and pocket WiFi can be ordered online to be delivered to your accommodation in Japan. They can also be picked up at the airport very easily.

You can often buy prepaid SIM cards from airport kiosks without booking in advance. If you want more than just the internet you can get a SIM card with both voice and data package.

These can be a bit more difficult process to get a hold off as many companies specialize in data-only SIM cards. It should be noted, almost all data-only SIM cards can receive calls, they just can’t make them.

Purchase a SIM card for your upcoming trip now!

How to get your prepaid SIM card at the airport in Japan (from USD 11.0)

Haneda Airport international Passenger Terminal
Source: Photo by user Junpei Abe used under CC BY 2.0

How to purchase a SIM card at the airport

There are also SIM card vending machines available at Narita. These machines are open 24/7 and sell data-only SIM cards. SIM cards from vending machines tend to be more expensive and are subject to availability. So, we only suggest this option as a last resort or in emergency situations.

If you need a voice and data SIM card, you will need to purchase it from the counters at the terminal.

In order to save time and ensure that you are guaranteed a SIM card. We highly recommend pre-ordering the SIM card and picking it up at the airport once you have arrived in Japan.

Where to pick up your SIM card

You will find small kiosks run by companies such as Klook in any of Japan’s major airports. Travelers can buy access to the internet cheaply and quickly. These businesses usually have English support as they know they are marketing towards international visitors.

You can pick it from these kiosks in case if you have trouble getting it delivered to your accommodation. For which, you need to have your prepaid SIM card booked.

Find more information below:

4G SIM Card (HK Pick Up) for Japan from YSIM (Unlimited Data)

650 reviews

How to buy a Japanese prepaid SIM card in your country? (from USD 4.0)

Product Coverage Duration Price (USD) Feature Pick up/delivery
Japan Travel centre UK 3GB 30 days $39.41 4G LET, data only self-pick up, delivery available
JTB Australia 4GB 31 days $34.71 4G LET, data only, Docomo netowrk delivery available
Klook Hong Kong 2GB 8 days $13.81 5G LET, Docomo network Pick up: Hong kong Airport T1
China Mobile Hong Kong unlimited 7 days $25.88 4G LET, tethering support Delivery available
iShop Changi Singapore unlimited 7 days $17.96 4G LET, voice calls Pick up: Singapore Airport
Klook Malaysia 3GB 7 days $3 4G/3G, data only Pick up: KL Airport
Hello1010 Malaysia 3GB 8 days $15.72 4G LET, voice calls, Soft Bank network Delivery available
Amazon 1GB 15 days $21.99 4G LET, Docomo network Delivery & shipping available
Amazon unlimited 8-31 days $29.99 4G LET, data only, Docomo network Delivery & shipping available

UK

Given that Amazon provides its customers convenient and nearly one-stop shopping experience. Amazon is a widely popular platform whereby many travelers purchase their travel necessities such as SIM cards from.

Yet, aside from Amazon, travelers can turn to Japan Travel Centre for the purchase of their SIM cards.

Take your pick from two SIM cards with different data options. One offering 1.5GB at 28.15 USD (25 GBP) and the other 3GB at 39.41 USD (35 GBP) across a span of thirty days.

An offer of 2 GBP off the original price is also valid when the SIM card is purchased with the Japanese Rail Pass.

Australia

SimCorner, an Australian based firm, provides its users with 4GB of data for 8 days.

Although the 17.90 USD (25 AUD) package does not include calls or text, mobile hotspot tethering is allowed. If you are traveling for a longer duration and require more data. Consider purchasing an alternative SIM card which offers unlimited data for a list of 10 social media apps.

Also, Make sure that there is 3GB data usage outside of the apps stated during the 30 days of activation.

Hong Kong

You can purchase SIM cards online on sites such as China Unicorn or Klook. You can have them delivered to your home or pick them up at Hong Kong Airport T1.

Both provide 3GB and 2GB of data respectively within 8 days, after which the speed falls to 128 kbps. You will still be able to send messages but not photos with this speed. Internet browsing will be excruciatingly slow at the same time.

Should you require more data, check out China Mobile which provides unlimited high-speed data for 7 days at the price of 22.17 USD (174 HKD) as well as free delivery.

Meanwhile, if you want to purchase a prepaid SIM card at a shop, drop by Apliu Street in Sham Shui Po. You will be able to find numerous cards, sold at some of the lowest prices in Hong Kong.

Nonetheless, there is always a chance that the SIM may not function.

Singapore

Changi Airport has The little shop where you can pick up your prepaid SIM card for your vacation in Japan.

It offers a package of 7GB data at 4G speeds, followed by unlimited data capped at 128 kbps, for a total of 7 days at a cost of 16.49 USD (22.41 SGD).

In addition, hotspot and tethering services are provided.

Those on a last-minute dash can go to money changes located in the departure halls of Changi Airport.

You can go to the UOB Money Changer, to purchase prepaid international SIM cards from local mobile service providers.

Malaysia

You’ll be spoilt for choice with the selection of deals available on Klook.

Choose your ideal prepaid SIM card from the variety of roaming and data plans. Each SIM card is valid for different durations.

On top of that, you can either enjoy the convenience of a delivery service or alternatively, collect your SIM card at the Kuala Lumpur Airport.

Besides Klook, Malaysian company Hello1010 supplies unlimited data across 8 days at the price of 15.72 USD (64 RM). It also allows you to take 20 minutes of calls in Japan, together with hotspot and tethering support.

4G WiFi and Power Bank (JP Airport Pick Up) for Japan [Unlimited]

1273 reviews

Using your prepaid SIM card

Getting a data-only SIM card is easy enough once you know where to look. But sometimes they can be deceptively difficult to use.

The prepaid SIM card may not be compatible depending on your phone. When using a temporary Japanese SIM you need to make sure that your phone is unlocked. If your phone can only work on one network from back home then it is not going to work in Japan.

Companies here like Softbank, AU, Docomo, and others are mostly Japan-exclusive and have very few deals with foreign companies.

Those who are desperate for a phone whilst abroad can purchase used phones. You can easily get it from shops like Bookoff or brand new ones from electronic shops like Bic Camera.

Keep it in mind that these phones will be in Japanese and will cost somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 JPY (88 - 881 USD).

If your phone is unlocked and the SIM card is not working, you might need to change your APN settings. APN is what allows your phone to connect to the internet.

For most devices, you can activate the APN by going into “Settings”, “Network”, “Mobile Networks” and then “Access Point Names”. Select the option to make a new APN, type in any web address then save and reset your device.

Alternative options

Free WiFi Symbol
Source: Photo by user Brian O'Donovan used under CC BY 2.0

But if all of this is too much hassle. Buying and renting the internet from Japanese companies isn’t the only way to stay connected on your trip.

Many businesses offer free WiFi. It is not as common as in the west but is growing more and more common. Most cafes and train stations have some sort of free WiFi in which users can connect their devices.

Also, supermarkets and convenience stores sometimes have WiFi that is free to use if you give them your e-mail address.

You can, of course, rely on hotels and other accommodation to supplying you with WiFi. Some Airbnb accommodations even offer a pocket WiFi as part of their amenities. It is standard in most accommodation apart from budget places to stay.

Though it may not be the fastest internet around, it is free.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

I am a writer from the North East of England trying to find his way in the world.  I used to be a teacher in England but in 2016 I moved out to Japan in order to get a different perspective on...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Japan
Good things are meant to be shared!