It’s near impossible to get around in 2019 without internet access, and the same goes for living in Japan. Japan is constantly connected, and there are a multitude of methods for obtaining an internet connection. Whether it’s for an unlocked smartphone, or for a laptop, there’s a service for you.
Data SIM Cards
Data SIM Cards are easy to find, and are compatible with any SIM-free/unlocked cellular device. There are plenty of places which sell these, including electronics retailers such as Bic Camera, and small shops and kiosks, including within the airport itself! These vary in form factor (most post-2014 phones use nanoSIM), length of time, amount of data, and cost, so pick the plan that fits your needs best. With light usage, and by connecting to Wi-Fi whenever possible, most users will be fine with 3GB for each month of their stay. These usually cost around ¥3000 each.
Data + Voice SIM Cards
Typically, Japanese phone numbers are only available to residents staying in Japan for at least one year. Most people staying under 90 days in Japan will not need a Japanese phone number, as Skype and LINE are effective and reliable alternatives. However, we’ve partnered with Mobal to provide cost-effective services for those staying in Japan for any amount of time. Check out this post for more info!
This option depends on your service provider at home. Check with your provider to see what options are available to you, as some options may end up being more or less expensive than a SIM card. Some providers offer daily international passes at a reasonable rate.
Free Wi-Fi Hotspots
In your first days in Japan, you may not be able to purchase a Data SIM or Pocket Wi-Fi device right away. Before arriving to Japan, download one of the following apps for free access to Wi-Fi as soon as you land:
TRAVEL JAPAN Wi-Fi: www.japanfreewifi.com
NTT BP Japan Wi-Fi: www.ntt-bp.net/jcfw/en.html
Pocket WiFi Routers
If you expect to need internet on multiple devices, it might be worth looking into a Pocket WiFi Router. While the cost is higher than a Data SIM Card, you can connect any device with WiFi capability to the route, including carrier-locked smartphones. After ordering the device, it will be ready for pickup at the airport, or delivered to your accommodation. Usually only 2–3 days are needed in advance to book the device. When you receive the device, you simply turn it on and connect to its WiFi signal. Two cost-effective options are:
For those living in Japan for a year or longer, you may be interested in arranging for a cell phone number in addition to a data plan. Here are a few options that provide various services at a reduced cost: