Updated at: 2016-12-29
Whether you need to make calls or only require data, Japan has a number of options for travellers when it comes to getting a sim card.
If you’re looking to make phone calls only, then it’s best to rent a phone in Japan as Japanese law prohibits short term travellers to have a local phone number.
Most common are the ones that you’ll see in electronic stores in major tourist areas such as Akihabara and Shinjuku in Tokyo where you can purchase data only sims that vary in price depending on data, speed and expiry.
For those that are in Japan for longer, it might be better to consider rental options for better value for money. Rental options include data only sims, data/voice sims, and pocket wifi routers.
Data only sims can be ordered online through a wide range of companies offering different plans. Numerous sellers offer free shipping or pick up from airports or hotels so you can order it before you arrive in Japan or once you’re there. Renting a sim card does mean you have to return it which you can do either by dropping it off to selected locations, or via postage.
Alternatively, you can rent a pocket wifi unit if you need to connect multiple devices. You can purchase these online or at the wifi rental counters available in the airports.
Personally, the data sim option was the best for my situation as it was cheaper and better value for the length of time I was staying in Japan. Once my phone was connected it was easy to connect my other devices through tethering a personal hotspot. I ordered my data sim from CD Japan that I found and selected after comparisons to other companies. My plan of unlimited data costs 100 yen/day for 90 days but they also offer other plans varying in prices depending on the length of time you need it for.