For years Japan was the world leader in mobile phone technology. Japan’s mobile network was the first to go nationwide. Japan was also the first to have mobile internet, the first with color screens on phones and the first for a whole host of other things we now take for granted.
But while the Japanese were forging ahead and using technology unique to Japan, the rest of the world was developing standards that now define a somewhat common ground globally. Because Japan has created its own closed mobile ecosystem, termed “Galapagos syndrome” because it has made their technology perfect in-country but incompatible on a world scale, using foreign phones on the domestic Japanese networks has been always been a challenge.
With the advent of 4G LTE networks, this disparity is becoming less of a problem for foreign travellers. It may be awhile before compatibility becomes a simple issue, but in the meantime here is a Japan mobile network guide to show you how to best use your options (such as a SIM card from Sakura Mobile) to successfully use your cell phone in Japan.