Do I Need a Japan Travel SIM Card?

What is a Japan travel SIM card, and why would you need one? For those of you that travel around the world with an unlocked phone, you’re probably used to picking up a SIM card soon after landing. Japan is no different, right? Well, kind of…


Japan Travel SIM Card

What is a Travel, or Tourist, SIM Card?

A travel SIM card, or tourist SIM card, is a pre-paid data card for short-term visitors to Japan. They offer pretty fast speeds, and a variety of data limits. Prices are based mostly on how much data you need.

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SIM Card slot inside an Android phone

The cards can be easily recharged, or even replaced, once the data limit is reached. Most companies have an online gateway to allow you to recharge your SIM.

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Display of SIM Cards in Europe

The one thing that sets Japan apart from other places I’ve been, is that the SIM cards are for data only. Texting and voice calls are usually not available on tourist SIM cards.

Why do I Need a Travel SIM Card?

If you’re an avid reader of our blog, or subscribe to our YouTube channel, you already know what I’m about to say. Free Wi-Fi hot spots in Japan are slow and spotty. They have limited usage time, and you’ve got to re-register every time you want to use the hot spot.

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Free WiFi placard in Shinjuku, Tokyo

The easiest, most reliable, and keep you sane solution is to have your own internet connection. This can be done with either a SIM card for your unlocked mobile phone, or by renting a pocket WiFi router.

I know that some mobile phone carriers provide international data, voice, and text. In my experience this option is usually not very fast, or it’s really expensive. Pre-paid SIM cards and pocket Wi-Fi rentals are a much more sensible answer.

6 Best Travel SIM Cards

Honestly, there is no best SIM card in Japan. Just about all of them use the same networks, NTT Dococmo or Softbank, and they all come with similar data structures.

The main deciding factor will be your wallet and your needs. Below you’ll find a list, in no particular order, of some of the biggest players in the SIM card industry.

1. Sakura Mobile

Sakura Mobile is one of my favorite SIM card providers. They’ve been around since 2014 and are one of Japan’s major players in the tourist SIM card industry. They’re reliable, have outstanding customer service, and thousands of satisfied clients.

DataTalk + TextPriceDelivery
UnlimitedNo8 day ¥4,950
15 day ¥7,150
30 day ¥9,900
Global Shipping
Pickup in Japan

They’re a bit pricier than others, but they’ve earned it through rock★star customer service and reliability.

2. Japan Wireless

Japan Wireless offers a 500 MB/Day data SIM card that runs on NTT Docomo’s 4G/LTE network

DataTalk + TextPriceDelivery
500 MB/DayNo7 day $26
15 day $30
30 day ¥$35
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Pickup in Japan

3. CDJapan

CDJapan offers an unlimited data SIM card that runs on Softbank’s 4G/LTE network.

DataTalk + TextPriceDelivery
UnlimitedNo8 day ¥4,100
16 day ¥5,200
31 day ¥7,100
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4. Mobal

Mobal offers two types of SIM cards, data only or data plus talk and text. This is one of the only travel SIM cards that offers tourists a phone number and the ability to make calls and send text messages.

DataTalk + TextPriceDelivery
30 day ¥7,500
60 day ¥12,000
90 day ¥16,500
Global Shipping
Pickup in Japan
UnlimitedNo8 day ¥3,990
16 day ¥5,990
31 day ¥7,490
Global Shipping
Pickup in Japan

*Up to 7GB at 4G/LTE, speeds reduce to 200 kbps after 7GB of data use.

Needing a phone number and the ability to make calls seems more practical for business travelers rather than vacationers.

5. SIMCard Geek

SIMCard Geek has both unlimited and data restricted cards.

DataTalk + TextPriceDelivery
UnlimitedNo5 day ¥3,480
12 day ¥4,980
21 day ¥6,980
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Pickup in Japan
LimitedNo8GB|8 days ¥3,480
16GB|16 days ¥5,480
31GB|31 days ¥6,980
Global Shipping
Pickup in Japan
LimitedNo3GB|14 days ¥4,480
7GB|30 days ¥4,980
Global Shipping
Pickup in Japan

6. IIJmio

IIJmio was one of the first to offer tourist SIM cards. You can find them at most electronics stores around Japan. They’re easy to get and easy to top up.

DataTalk + TextPriceDelivery
LimitedNo1GB|30 days ¥2,530
3GB|90 days ¥4,510
Pickup in Japan

Although a bit more expensive than most, these SIM cards are a great option if you’re in a pinch or if you forgot to order your card online in advance.

Final Thoughts

I recommend ordering your SIM cards in advance, and have them delivered to your home. That way you can get connected the minute you land. It’s not unheard of for the airport kiosks to sell out of SIM cards and pocket Wi-Fi routers.

Getting it online and having it ready when you arrive will save you from unnecessary frustrations. Remember, the early bird gets the worm.

One more thing. Unless you speak Japanese, or are doing business in Japan, there isn’t much need for having the ability to make phone calls.

If you’re traveling with a group, it’s best if everyone gets a data SIM and then use an app like WhatsApp to text and call each other. It’s cheaper upfront and you won’t rack up a huge bill talking, texting, and sending pictures.

If you need to call and make a reservation, it’s best to have your hotel concierge do it for you. Odds are the person on the other end will only speak Japanese.

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this article. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We have no association with the companies or the products reviewed. These are our own opinions of top travel products.