You can’t live comfortably without a phone these days, especially when you are on a trip.
It will be very inconvenient if you can’t get directions, make reservations, or send messages online.
(And if you can’t use the google translation, it will be very hard to communicate with Japanese speakers!)
But the mobile phone use in Japan can be a little confusing for foreigners because there are so many services and mobile phone companies.
So, this time I wrote about phone use in Japan and listed best options for anyone coming to stay in Japan!
1.Get a SIM card
With a SIM card, you can use your own mobile phone in Japan if it is unlocked and work on a network in Japan.
You can simply buy a Japanese SIM card and data plan for your phone.
Note that most SIM cards are for data only and you cannot make a phone call.
You can get a SIM card at airports, retailers in Japan (like at Bic camera or Yodobashi), or online.
The price varies depending on the plan, but usually costs around 4,000yen for 30 days of use (1 or 2 GB).
2.Rent a mobile phone
If you don’t have an unlocked phone, you may want to rent a phone in Japan.
By doing so, it will be very easy and inexpensive to make local calls and you will have no problem using Japanese Apps and online services.
You need a picture ID and a credit card to rent a phone.
Phones can be rented online or at major airports in Japan.
Rentafone Japan and Softbank are the major companies that offer this service.
After using, you can return the phones at the airport or via the mail.
It costs around 200-500 yen a day for regular phones, and for smartphones, 1,000-2,000yen per a day.
Calling rates are usually around 40-100yen per a minute.
(Incoming calls are free)
3.Rent a Pocket WiFi
In remote areas of Japan, it’s sometimes hard to find Wi-Fi connection.
Some trains and buses do not offer Wi-Fi service, so you could be in trouble finding a connection if you rely on Wi-Fi (except at Starbucks and Mcdonald’s).
But don’t worry, Japanese phone companies offer this thing called “Pocket WiFi”.
It’s a small, simple mobile hotspot that helps you connect to the Internet from your devices.
With that, it will be much easier to stay connected no matter where you go in Japan, and you will have the unlimited Internet access.
You just have to charge it and turn it on and connect it to your phone/PC.
Pupuru and Ninja WiFi are two major, reliable companies that carry this service, and you can order online and have it delivered to your hotel.
If you are planning to use it , you should request over a few days before the day of use as it is a very popular service for tourists.
Note that you can’t make phone calls using just WiFi, but internet-based call services (like LINE, WhatsApp, Skype) can be used.
Just like renting a mobile phone, you can send it back to the company you used via mail after using.
It depends on the provider and the service, but it usually costs around 6,000yen for 10 days of use.
4.Buy a prepaid phone
Although it is not very common in Japan, there are some prepaid phone services.
As you can have control over your calling expenses, it is a smart way to prevent from using phones too much.
You just need to go to a mobile phone company that carries this service (Softbank is the most popular) with a passport and tell staff.
The price for the prepaid phones are from about 4,000yen to 7,000yen.
Note that if you have a Softbank prepaid phone, making a call to non-Softbank call can be expensive.
You can buy your own calling minutes for a few thousand yen at a time.
Check the detail about the service here: https://www.softbank.jp/en/mobile/product/prepaid/
Those who are staying for a long time in Japan might want to make a mobile contract.
You can either go to a network store, or to a large electronics store with your alien registration cards and Japanese bank accounts (Mobile bills can be paid automatically from a Japanese bank).
When you make a contract, you might want to go there with someone who can speak Japanese well because the explanation about the services and contracts can be a little complicated.
Have a great time in Japan with a phone with you!
See you next time
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