6 Best eSIMs for Japan Travel in 2023


When traveling overseas, normal internet access is an absolute necessity. As long as your device supports it, eSIM have become a beacon of convenience, as you do not need to worry about receiving a physical SIM or replacing it.

However, choosing the right eSIM for your trip to Japan is not so simple.

Not having the necessary knowledge and choosing the wrong eSIM could find you in one of the following situations.

  • “The speed is so slow I can’t connect to the internet.”
  • “I didn’t purchase enough data and used it all up already.”
  • “I don’t know how to set up the eSIM, and Customer Support hasn’t responded yet.”

Don’t worry. We are here to help you!

In this article, we will introduce six eSIM providers we consider to be the best.

We gathered easy-to-understand information about what to look for when purchasing an eSIM, such as data plans and prices, how to receive your eSIM profile, customer reviews, and which carriers each provider uses.

After reading this article, you will better understand which eSIM provider you should use while you are in Japan.

If your device does not support eSIM, you will need to purchase a physical SIM card instead. If you are looking for information about physical SIM cards, please refer to the following article.

Table of Contents

  1. What is an eSIM?
  2. What travelers in Japan need to know about eSIM
  3. Things to keep in mind when choosing an eSIM
  4. 6 best eSIM for traveling to Japan
  5. eSIM vs. Pocket Wi-Fi
  6. eSIM Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Final thoughts

A quick look: Which SIM card provider should I choose?

1.What is an eSIM?

eSIM stands for “Embedded SIM,” where the SIM functionality is built directly into the device. More and more recently released smartphones and devices are becoming eSIM compatible.

With an eSIM, unlike a physical SIM card, it is unnecessary to replace or install a SIM card physically, and the entire process from purchase to usage can be done online. You will need to check your smartphone and device to make sure it is compatible with eSIM before purchasing an eSIM. For example, iPhone XS and later models are eSIM compatible (excluding Hong Kong iPhones).

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2.What travelers in Japan need to know about eSIM

Before you buy an eSIM for your Japan trip, there are two things you should know.

  • How to buy an eSIM
  • About eSIM with phone numbers

We will explain each of these below. If you want to skip to our six recommended eSIM providers, please click here and you will jump to the second half of this article.

How to buy an eSIM

Thinking about buying an eSIM from one of Japan’s major wireless carriers (docomo, SoftBank, and au) for your Japan trip? Unfortunately, the major carriers do not sell short-term eSIM plans for travelers.

So, where can you buy eSIM plans for travelers?

The answer is from telecommunications providers known as MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). MVNOs operate using the major carriers’ communications networks. MVNOs create and sell short-term eSIM plans for travelers on behalf of the major carriers. An example of an MVNO is Sakura Mobile, which we will introduce later in this article.

You can visit their website and choose the product and plan that suits your needs. Everything from purchasing to obtaining eSIM information can be done online.

Later, we will introduce the six eSIM providers we recommend when traveling to Japan.

About eSIM with phone numbers

In Japan, eSIM with phone numbers for travel use are rarely sold. Generally, travelers in Japan can only purchase Data-only SIMs, which, as the name suggests, offer only data and do not have a Japanese phone number attached to it.

The reason for the lack of short-term SIMs with Japanese phone numbers is due to Japan’s laws regarding phone numbers and SIMs. Japan has strict identity verification laws and requirements, and Japanese phone numbers are generally provided only to residents living in Japan. Providing phone numbers to non-residents is considered illegal. This is why only data-only SIMs without a Japanese phone number are sold to short-term travelers.

You may find several companies that offer eSIM with Japanese phone numbers, but as explained above, there is a chance that they may be operating illegally. Be aware of these companies and the possibility the eSIM may not work properly when purchasing an eSIM with a phone number.

Even with Data-only SIMs, you can make calls and chat with others using smartphone apps such as Skype and Whatsapp, making Data-only SIMs also a possible option.

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3.Things to keep in mind when choosing an eSIM

Now that you have a better understanding of eSIM, before we introduce six companies that offer travel eSIM in Japan, we will point out a few things to pay attention to in order to choose the best eSIM for your travel.

  • ・eSIM Activation
  • ・Flexibility (Extending the usage, Cancel & Refund policy, adding data, etc.)
  • ・Signal/Service Coverage
  • ・English Support

If you want to skip to our six recommended eSIM providers, please click here, and you will jump to our recommendations.

eSIM Activation

In most cases, eSIM activation will be done via scanning a QR code.
The QR code is usually provided in an email from the provider or, in some cases, install an app from the provider.
When using a provider’s own app, registering an account with the provider is often necessary, providing personal information such as your email address, name, etc. On the other hand, if the QR code is sent by email, you will most likely not need to enter any personal information, making it a much easier and smoother process than an application.

Flexibility (Extending the usage, Cancel & Refund policy, adding data, etc.)

With many trips, there are times when things do not go as planned.
Some examples include, after purchasing an eSIM, you get sick and cannot go on the trip, a one-week business trip turns into a two-week stay, etc. Also, you end up using more data than you anticipated and run out of available data for your eSIM.
Check ahead to see if the provider accommodates instances where there are sudden changes in your trip, canceling the purchase, extending the usage period, or adding more data.

Signal/Service Coverage

The eSIM providers introduced in this article use Japan’s major carrier networks, which all cover 99% of the Japanese population. This means that, for the most part, anyone, almost anywhere, can get an internet connection.
However, be careful when using your phone in rural areas, mountains, or underground. Although your phone may show a signal, the signal may actually be really weak, and the data speeds may be very slow.

English Support

Running into connection issues or if you are unsure of settings are things that will make anyone frustrated. The last thing you want is to have to deal with these issues in another language. It may be a safer and less stressful experience if you choose an eSIM provider that offers English customer support.
It is also important to know how you can interact with customer support. Below are a few examples of what to consider when thinking about customer support.

  • ・Can they be reached by email, phone, or both?
  • ・Are they available to help on the weekends?
  • ・Do they have an office or stores in Japan?

We recommend you choose a provider who can be reached by both email and phone. You can call them for emergency situations and email them for non-urgent situations. If you are uncomfortable communicating by phone and/or email, choose a provider with an office or store in Japan so you can talk with the staff directly.
Also, many eSIM providers are closed on weekends. This can be a problem when you need to contact customer service for assistance. Therefore, it is recommended that you choose a provider whose customer support is available throughout the year, even during the holidays.

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4.The 6 Best eSIM for Travel in Japan

Scroll right for more →→

ProviderProvider's country Data Plan & Price DaysEnglish supportReviewsActivation steps NetworkTopup Extension Cancel&Refund policy
Sakura MobileJapan ★4.5
3GB - 200 GB(Various plans)
From 2000JPY(≒$13.7*)
3 days - 90 days
4.5 of 5 3492 Reviews(Yotpo) QR issue link via Email
*flexible to the start date
NTT docomo
Nippon SIMJapan ★3.5
From 3280JPY(≒$22.5*)
180 days
Email only
Not foundQR code via EmailNTT docomo not found not found
eSIM Japan Japan★4
From $7.99
3 days - 20 days
Email only
Not foundQR code via EmaiNot found not found not found
Ubigi Overseas ★4
From $4.0 ~ $69
30 days
Email only
4.4 of 5from 5384reviews(Trustpilot) Required to download certain App NTT Docomo ×
AIS SIM2Fly Overseas ★3.5
8 days
Chat via FB messenger
★4.5 Reviews 488 (no source) QR code via email Unknown
*Roaming plan from Thailand
not found not found
Flexiroam Oversea★4
500MB-10GB(Various plans)
From $7.5~ $109.99
3 days - 360 days
*Chat via Whatsapp
Not found Required to download certain App Unknown not foundnot found not found

So, which provider should you choose?

Did this table help you understand more about which eSIM provider you should choose?
Below, we will explain in more detail three companies that we highly recommend for your next trip.

① Sakura Mobile

Sakura Mobile

ProviderSakura Mobile
Provider's country Japan
Data Plan & Price ★4.5
3GB - 200 GB(Various plans)
From 2000JPY(≒$13.7*)
3 days - 90 days
English support ★5
Reviews4.5 of 5 3492 Reviews(Yotpo)
Activation steps QR issue link via Email
*flexible to the start date
NetworkNTT docomo
Top up
Cancel & Refund policy

Sakura Mobile’s eSIM is not the cheapest option on the list, but it does offer flexibility and the ability for up to 200GB of data. In addition, Sakura Mobile can offer data top-up and usage extension for your eSIM if needed. If you are wondering which provider to choose, Sakura Mobile is the clear choice.

Positive points about Sakura Mobile are as follows.

  • ・Substantial plans
  • ・English Customer Support throughout the year
  • ・Large number of positive reviews
  • ・Japanese provider

Let us take a closer look at Sakura Mobile.

Substantial plans

Sakura Mobile offers a wide range of plans, with data plans ranging from 3 GB to 200 GB and usage periods from 3 to 90 days. You will no doubt be able to find a plan that suits your needs best.

English Customer Support throughout the year

Sakura Mobile’s English Customer Support is available 365 days a year. So, if you have any problems with your eSIM, you can quickly and easily get clear help easily.

Large number of positive reviews

There are over 3,000 positive reviews on Sakura Mobile’s website. Compared to the other companies in the above table, it is clear Sakura Mobile is a very highly rated and reliable service.

Japanese provider

Sakura Mobile is a Japanese telecommunications provider, so it uses Japan’s largest carrier, NTT docomo’s communication network, providing high-quality communication. In addition to the high-quality network, the service’s proficient and friendly customer service, which can only be found in Japan, is another reason why Sakura Mobile has received high praise from its customers.
In addition, since Sakura Mobile has an office and stores in Japan, you can get direct support from the staff.

Visit Sakura Mobile here
Official website: https://www.sakuramobile.jp/

② Ubigi


Provider's country France
Data Plan & Price★4
From $4.0 ~ $69
30 days
English support ★3
Email only
Reviews4.4 of 5from 5384reviews(Trustpilot)
Activation steps Required to download certain App
Network NTT docomo
Cancel & Refund policy

If you don’t mind a smaller amount of data (for example, 500 MB), Ubigi offers the lowest prices.

However, the number of days of use is limited to 30 days, and there are fewer plan options than other providers. Also, the eSIM installation process requires downloading Ubigi’s own application and registering with the service.

For individuals looking to use the eSIM immediately, it may be better to look for a provider where you can use the eSIM immediately, such as by receiving the QR code for the eSIM directly via email.

Visit Ubigi here.
Official Website: https://cellulardata.ubigi.com/


ProviderAIS SIM2Fly
Provider's country Thailand
Data Plan & Price ★3.5
6GB 2,380JPY(≒$16.4)
Days ★3
8 days
English support ★4
Chat via FB messenger
Reviews ★4.5 Reviews 488 (no source)
Activation steps QR code via email
Network Unknown
*Roaming plan from Thailand
Topup not found
Extension not found
Cancel & Refund policy

AIS SIM2Fly is one of Thailand’s major telecommunications companies, and its prepaid international SIMs are widely available.

Regarding eSIM plans, only one plan is available: 8-day 6 6GB. If this plan fits your needs, this may be an option worth considering.

Visit AIS SIM2Fly here.
Official Website: https://esim2fly.com/

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5.eSIM or pocket WiFi

An eSIM is not the only option for connecting to the internet while traveling in Japan. Pocket WiFi devices, also known as mobile hotspots or portable WiFi routers, are also popular among travelers.

Pocket WiFieSIM
PriceRelatively highRelatively low
Set UpReady to use out of the box Requires changing the device's settings
Supported DevicesAll WiFi-compatible devices Smartphones and tablets
that are unlocked and support eSIM function
Battery Life Requires regular charging No charging required
Best UseTravelers in a group or
travelers with multiple devices
Solo travelers with
one mobile device

We recommend buying a pocket WiFi if:

  • ・You want to use the internet with minimal setup
  • ・You want to share data with family and friends who are traveling with you

On the other hand, you should consider purchasing an eSIM if:

  • ・You do not want to carry a pocket WiFi device on your trip
  • ・You are worried about the battery life of another device
  • ・You are not sharing data with other people during your trip

Sakura Mobile offers pocket WiFi devices in addition to eSIM. If you are interested, please check the
Sakura Mobile travel pocket WiFi website.

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6.Frequently Asked Questions about eSIM

Can I use a Japanese eSIM with my phone?

In order to use a Japanese eSIM, your device must meet the following conditions.

  • ・Must be eSIM-compatible
  • ・Must be a SIM-free device (not SIM-locked)
  • ・Be able to communicate on Japanese telecommunications provider’s network signal

If you are not sure if your device is unlocked, you can check with your carrier or store where you purchased the device.

To check whether your device can communicate on the Japanese telecommunications provider’s network signals, you need to check your device’s frequency bands and specifications.

Suppose you are not familiar with communications or smartphone settings. In that case, it may be difficult to determine whether your device is SIM-free and whether it can operate on Japanese telecommunications providers’ networks. Before visiting Japan, you should consider contacting your carrier to get the necessary information to ensure your device can be used in Japan.

You can check if your device is compatible with Sakura Mobile’s eSIM by following the link below.

Another option is to send an email with the name and model of your device, and the Sakura Mobile staff will be able to assist you.

How do I set up an eSIM?

The procedure for setting up an eSIM depends on the type of device and the provider. However, generally, it is easy to follow the steps in the manual and takes 5 – 10 minutes.
Installation instructions include installing an application provided by the provider, scanning the QR code attached to an email after you purchase it, etc.

Is there free WiFi in Japan?

In Japan, Starbucks generally has free WiFi in places such as department stores.
However, only a few places in Japan provide free WiFi. While traveling, a reliable internet connection is a must, so getting an eSIM or pocket WiFi is essential.

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7.Final Thoughts

What do you think? Do you feel like you are ready to choose an eSIM for your trip to Japan?
In this article, we explained what you should know when shopping for eSIM, the best eSIM providers, and other internet options during your travel.
We hope this article helps you find a reliable internet source during your Japan trip.

Thank you for reading, and good luck!

Conclusion: Which SIM card provider should I choose?

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