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The Best Prepaid Japan Travel SIM Card Options in 2024

If you’re traveling to Japan or looking into planning a trip, you definitely need to get a Japan travel SIM card for your visit. This will ensure you always have access to an internet connection and can make calls regardless of your location. While traveling overseas, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re prepared and don’t get stranded without having access to communication.

Besides, you’ll need to make sure you can post all of your mind-blowing meals online to make your friends jealous back home! This guide will cover everything you need to know about getting a Japanese SIM card for your phone’s data and voice needs.

What Are The Best Short-term Japan SIM Cards for Tourists?

Keep in mind that this article will cover some different prepaid SIM card in Japan options for those who will be traveling to Japan short term. If you’re planning on staying in Japan for a more extended period of time and will be living there for a while, there are other options available that may save you extra money.

Most of the major cell service providers in Japan do offer pay-as-you-go SIM cards, but these are usually more expensive and will cost you a premium. In this article, we’ll be focusing on MVNOs, otherwise known as smaller providers who offer short-term Japan SIM cards through larger networks as they usually will be the more affordable options and they are tailored to tourists visiting Japan, aka Japanese tourist SIM card options.

All of the SIM cards in this list will have top-of-the-line fast internet speeds.

Short-term Japan SIM Card options

All of the SIM card providers listed below are great for short-term traveling to Japan whether you’re a tourist taking a vacation, going on a business trip, etc. You can choose to have your Japanese SIM card shipped to you before you travel to Japan or you can pick it up when you arrive.

If you elect to pick up your SIM card once you arrive in Japan, you’ll need to pick it up from the airport when you first arrive (although some options do offer the ability to have it delivered to your hotel after you check in and get settled). All the companies on our list have the option of airport pickup for their SIMs, while others offer shipping before you leave home.

These are our top picks for prepaid SIM cards in Japan.

Mobal

Mobal has Japan travel SIM cards available in multiple different plans

The Mobal voice and data SIM card allow you to use up to 7GB of data at top speeds, but once you pass the 7GB limit, your data speeds will be slower. This is nice because it ensures that even if you accidentally go over the 7GB data limit, you’ll still be able to access the internet from your phone while on the go just with throttled speeds.

If you do pass the data limit and want to top-up your data, you can purchase additional data in 60-90-day increments. Mobal also offers more long-term packages as well for those who decide to stay a bit longer than initially intended.

Their SIMs come with free shipping to most countries, but they may also be picked up from the Narita, Haneda, Fukuoka, Kansai, Nagoya, and Sendai Airports when you arrive in Japan. You can also opt to pick up the SIM cards from downtown Tokyo and Osaka as well.

The Mobal voice and data SIM card costs ~$20.28 USD initially to set up and for the data-only SIM cards, while they do technically have unlimited data, your speeds may be throttled and reduced if you use more than the 3GB limit per day.

Mobal is one of the more popular options used by many folks who travel to Japan. They’re very well known and are the only SIM card option on this list that offers voice along with their data-only SIM plans. The other options on this list are prepaid data SIM cards. If you need to make calls and send texts back to loved ones outside of Japan, having the voice calling and texting options is very nice.

The fact that Mobal also provides free worldwide shipping is the icing on the cake. Being able to have your SIM card before landing in Japan takes away that extra headache of uncertainty and allows you to feel fully prepared for your trip before your initial flight.

Mobal offers English-speaking custom support to ensure that if any problems do arise you can reach out to support and get help.

We highly recommend the Mobal SIM card. They’re a great choice and they have multiple different options to choose from. There’s also the added benefit that the company’s profits go to charity.

japan sim cardMobal Japan SIM CardJPY ¥2,970

Sakura Mobile

Sakura Mobile website screenshot for their travel SIM card.

The Sakura Mobile SIM card is handy because, from the moment you pick it up in Japan, it is pre-activated. This means that all you need to do is pop it into your phone and you’re immediately ready to go. Sakura is a data-only SIM, but if you don’t plan on using texting or making phone calls while in Japan, it should suffice for your needs.

Sakura Mobile also has longer-term SIM cards available. They offer English support and other native language support as well which is a nice touch – this includes regular customer support and further technical support if needed.

You can elect to pick up your SIM at your arriving airport, but they also will deliver it to your hotel once you are checked in and settled. For payment, Sakura Mobile accepts credit cards from outside of Japan and cash through convenience stores.

Sakura Mobile clearly understands the importance of simplicity and making things easy to use for foreigners. There are no annoying hoops you have to jump through and the fact that you don’t even need to activate the card to begin using it is a huge plus. It’s a genuinely plug-in-and-go solution.

The Sakura Mobile SIM card has unlimited data, no cut-off cap for data used, and no additional data charges. You can get and stay connected to mobile data on your device throughout your whole trip with no issues. They use a fast 4G LTE network which is one of Japan’s most trusted providers, NTT Docomo.

They boast that their data will work everywhere throughout Japan, even Mt. Fuji.

Sakura Travel SIM UNLIMITED DataSakura Mobile’s Japan Tourist SIMPrices vary based on total days

SIM Card Geek

Sim Card Geek website screenshot

SIM Card Geek has multiple different tourist SIM cards available. They have 5, 8, 12, 16, 21, 30, and 31-day Japan prepaid SIM cards available. Their SIMs are targeted at tourists traveling to Japan.

They offer free shipping to you before you leave for your trip, but also offer the option to pick up your card when you arrive. The card can be picked up from your destination airport.

They mention on their site that if you use an iPhone 14 you will need to use a Japan eSIM card as the physical SIM card options won’t work with the device.

Their eSIMs have similar prepaid card options and offer multi-day cards that can be purchased and used for a particular period of time. If you know how long you’re going to be in Japan, buying one of these fixed-duration cards can save you some extra money.

Japan Data SIM Card Unlimited DataJPY ¥6,980

IIJmio

IIJmio travel SIM card

IIJmio offers a Japan travel SIM that you can purchase and use for shorter periods of time. They have both 30-day and 90-day options available and all of their cards are rechargeable if you decide to stay longer than originally planned.

Their SIMs are 4G LTE and have a maximum speed cap of 788 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload. Do keep in mind that depending on your location, the 4G service may be downgraded to 3G if you are outside of the LTE coverage zone.

IIJmio will get the job done. They aren’t at the top of this list for a few reasons, but primarily because the other options listed above are better value for your money and the quality of service is typically higher. That said, IIJmio will work and you’ll be able to access basic data internet while visiting Japan.

Your connection may be a bit spotty at times and it can feel a bit limiting in terms of all the stipulations they have considered to some of the other options listed above.

b-Mobile

b-Mobile has a Japanese travel SIM option as well

b-Mobile has been providing travel SIM cards to travelers since 2012. They offer a couple of different plans and you have the ability to add extra data to your SIM up to 2 days after its expiration date.

Depending on the type of SIM that you get, you’ll either receive a physical SIM card once you arrive in Japan or you’ll simply download the eSIM to your device. You’ll then need to set it up and after restarting your phone, you should be all set and ready to explore Japan with your new data plan.

The benefit of using an eSIM instead of a physical SIM card is that you don’t have to wait around for a physical SIM to arrive. As soon as you land, you can get the eSIM setup and be ready to go immediately. You can also keep your original SIM card in your device so you don’t run the risk of losing or breaking it.

b-Mobile uses NTT docomo’s mobile network which is one of the larger providers in Japan. This means that coverage works well and extends to Tokyo and Osaka.

Should You Get A Data Only SIM or A Voice and Data SIM?

Whether you should get a data-only SIM or a voice and data one will depend on your own personal needs. These days, it’s pretty common for most travel SIM providers to offer only data SIMs by default, however as mentioned previously in this article, Mobal does offer a voice and data SIM option for those who need to make calls while in Japan.

If you’re someone who needs the ability to send and receive phone calls from a Japanese phone number while there, you’ll need to make sure that the selection from available Japanese SIM cards you choose have that option available.

How To Make Phone Calls With A Japan Travel SIM

While Mobal has a voice and data SIM option, all of the other options on this list only have data-only SIM cards available for short-term travelers.

This means with data-only, you can’t make or receive phone calls or text messages. One potential workaround to this is to use a third-party app to send and receive VOIP calls. Some apps that allow this are Facebook Messenger, Google Voice, Skype, LINE, and even WhatsApp.

It should be mentioned, however, that using a VOIP number won’t always work for every single number you try to call or send a message to. On one hand, some services don’t allow you to receive text messages to VOIP numbers due to spam and scams. There’s also the fact that in some locations your access to date may be limited and you might be unable to place VOIP calls from there.

In these scenarios, especially while overseas in a location you’re unfamiliar with, having the ability to place calls from a phone number can really help get you out of a bind.

There are also a number of apps in Japan that require an actual Japanese phone number in order to use them. For example, the popular payment app in Japan, PayPay, requires you to verify your account with an actual Japanese phone number. Also, if you plan on ordering food on Uber Eats, you’ll need to make sure you have a Japanese phone number that you can use as well, or else you’ll be out of luck.

There are a few other apps as well that require Japanese phone numbers, but you get the idea.

Where To Buy A SIM Card In Japan?

If you didn’t plan ahead or somehow ended up needing a new SIM card mid-trip while you’re already overseas in Japan, we’ve got you covered. Don’t worry, there are options available for purchasing local SIM cards!

Your best bet would be to locate one of the following stores:

  • Shibuya
  • Shinjuku
  • Ikebukuro
  • Yodobashi Camera

All of the stores listed above should have local Japanese SIM card options available to purchase. You may want to ask the staff which SIM cards they recommend and see if they have any helpful tips to ensure you are getting one that will last the rest of your trip. If in doubt, Bic SIM cards are pretty popular in Japan and they’re the default SIM that we’d recommend going with if searching in person.

Many stores will have English-speaking staff available and will be more than happy to help accommodate you and answer any questions you might have. If you’re in a bit of a bind and no one at the store speaks English, you can try saying “Sumimasen, SIM ka-do wo sagashiteimasu” which roughly translates to English as “Excuse me, I’m looking for a SIM card”.

Summary

We’ve now covered all of the best possible Japan travel SIM cards. We went over which cards are available to purchase online, which are data only and which have data and voice capabilities, and we also went over how to buy a SIM card while you’re actually in Japan as well.

With all of the options in this guide, you now have access to any SIM card-related information you might need. If you plan ahead and buy the right SIM for your needs, you’ll ensure a smooth experience without any additional stress once you touch down in Japan.

If you’re someone who plans to be working while traveling in Japan, you may also want to look into getting yourself a pocket WiFi Japan rental option to ensure you have unlimited data and never lose access to the internet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Activate A Japan SIM Card?

The process of activating a Japan SIM card will depend on the provider that you purchased it from, however typically for physical SIM cards in Japan, you’ll need to first insert the SIM into your phone and follow the instructions that come with the SIM. The process is usually rather straightforward, similar to what you’d expect in the United States.

For eSIM cards, you’ll usually just need to activate the SIM without actually inserting a physical SIM card into your device. This can be nice as it lessens the risk of losing or damaging your actual SIM card.

Can I Use an eSIM card in Japan?

Newer phones typically are able to work with eSIM cards while older models usually can’t. If your phone was released in recent years, it’s worth taking a look to see if the make and model of your device is eSIM compatible. If it is, an eSIM can be a really handy option that will allow you to use a secondary SIM card online for your device.

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Jonathan Z

Jon is one of the two Jons that runs Kuuki. He's a big fan of Nintendo, cats, and Japanese culture. He dreams of one day living abroad in Japan, but for now will settle for simply writing about it.

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