Coming to Japan? Want to be connected on arrival? Want to post on Instagram on arrival? Why not?
It makes sense but do remember that while Japan is exotic and different, it can be an enigma when looking for something as simple as a Voice & Data SIM Card. There are of course options. Like the majority of Japanese you can sign an annual contract using valid ID issued in Japan. If that rules you out then read on!
Arriving at either of the airports serving Tokyo–Narita or Haneda–you will be greeted by an array of SIM vendors. Let me save you a lot of time and soul-searching and take you on a quick tour.
The first option is a straight up 15 days Voice/Data SIM with 3 GBs of data for 7,500 yen. Sounds good? Remember there are No Text Messages, No International Calls and a slightly cryptic warning that you may be suspended by the phone company should you make several local phone calls exceeding 10 minutes. You can’t use this for longer than 15 days (including date of purchase) so think fast.
The next option is far more baffling so let’s hope you’ve slept on the flight. Choose from these 2 plans.
The first a rental fee of 970 yen/day with local calls charged at 110 yen/day and a not very transparent international call rate. Or go for the more straight-forward 780 yen/day with local calls charged at 110 yen/day and international calls at 400 yen/day. Now sit down and digest the fact that this is outrageously expensive. 15 days would cost you anywhere between 11,700 to 14,550 yen and that’s before you’ve made a phone call.
Luckily there is another option. You can now get your SIM delivered FREE to your home before you arrive in Japan. Launched in early 2017 the Mobal Japan SIM is a Voice/ Unlimited Data SIM with a Japanese phone number & local call rates charged between 29-40 yen/minute and international calls starting from 65 yen/minute. The SIM itself costs 3,000 yen and you add on the bundle of your choosing for the duration of your choosing.
A 15-day data bundle costs 4,000 yen paid at time of activation and a 30 day bundle costs 6,000 yen. What else do you get aside from clarity? Free Incoming Calls. Free Incoming Text Messages. English Customer Support and at last–options! Should you wish to use the SIM for 15 days, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or ongoing it’s all available.
There are even options should you not wish to use data, such as the Talk & Text Plan for 1,000 yen per month (minimum plan 30 days). The fact that you can pay using your debit or credit card issued outside of Japan should not sound like an advantage but as I said in the beginning, Japan is exotic and different and can be an enigma so Mobal is the smart choice.
Note by author: It’s not often the smart choice is the right choice but the Mobal SIM fulfils all criteria, as profits earned from sales of the Japan SIM are used to fund a Japanese NGO–Seibo–to help provide hot school meals for under-5’s and primary school students in Malawi.