Best 7 SIM Cards with Unlimited Data for Japan Travel in 2021

Best SIM Cards with Unlimited Data for Japan Travel in 2021

Are you planning on making a trip to Japan?

If you’ve ever traveled abroad, you’ll know how important it is to have access to Instagram, messaging applications, or Google MAP. You’re going to want a SIM card that you can use in Japan just like in your home country.

However, deciding on a SIM card that will be perfect for your trip to Japan is not an easy task.

Choosing just any SIM card may put you in some of the following situations:

  • ”The connection speed is too slow and I can’t access the internet.”
  • ”I didn’t have enough data and used it all up really fast.”
  • ”I can’t figure out how to set up my SIM card and can’t get ahold of customer support.”

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

In this article, we will be introducing 7 providers that we believe are some of the best choices for prepaid data SIM cards in Japan.

We will explain some of the most important details you should pay attention to when looking for a SIM card such as the data plans, prices, pickup options, customer reviews, and the customer support of the provider.

Once you have read this article, you should have a better idea of the SIM card that you want to be using in Japan.

We will be explaining these concepts without any technical terms, so you’ll be able to understand everything you need to know even if you aren’t familiar with telecommunications.

This article covers information on SIM cards for short-term stays in Japan (those who are staying in the country between 1 and 90 days). For those who are looking for information on long-term SIM cards (monthly contracts), please refer to the article below.

Table of contents

  1. Things to know about Japan’s travel SIM cards
  2. Things to keep in mind when choosing a SIM card
  3. The best 7 SIM cards for travel in Japan
  4. SIM card vs. Pocket WiFi
  5. SIM card FAQ

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

1. Things to know about Japan’s travel SIM cards

Things to know about Japan’s travel SIM cards
Before you buy a SIM card for travel in Japan, you’re going to need to know these three things:

  • How to purchase a prepaid SIM card
  • About prepaid SIM cards with phone numbers
  • Reserving online vs. buying at the airport

We will be explaining each one in detail.

For those who want to know about the 7 recommended SIM card providers, click here to jump to a later section in this article.

How to purchase a prepaid SIM card

You might be thinking that you want to buy a SIM card directly from one of the major Japanese mobile carriers (docomo, au, or SoftBank). However, this is in fact, not possible.

Major carriers provide prepaid SIMs to retailers, and this is how you can get a SIM card from a major carrier.

An example of one of these retailers (also introduced in this article) is Sakura Mobile.

Later, we will be recommending you 7 of the best providers to get your SIM card for Japan.

About prepaid SIM cards with phone numbers

In Japan, there are little to no prepaid SIM cards sold with a phone number. In general, travelers to Japan will only be able to purchase what is called a data-only SIM card.

This is because the ID verification process surrounding getting a phone number is very strict in Japan. It is difficult to sell SIM cards with phone numbers due to these regulations.

There are a few companies that do advertise prepaid SIM cards that include a phone number, but some of them may be operating illegally. If you are looking to purchase one of these SIM cards, you should be aware of the risks.

Even with a data-only SIM card, you will have the ability to use applications like Skype or WhatsApp, so it may be wise to use these when you want to make phone calls.

Reserving online vs. buying at the airport

There are two ways to purchase a SIM card.

  1. Reserve one online before coming to Japan and pick it up at the airport when you arrive
  2. Find a retailer selling SIM cards at the airport and buy one after you land in Japan

We recommend the former option, reserving your SIM card online.

There are two reasons for this.

The first is that by reserving online, your SIM card will become cheaper. Retailers that have online shops spend less money on operation costs which allows their products to be overall less expensive.

The second is that you can avoid the possibility of SIM cards being sold out.

During the travel season, it is possible that shops selling SIM cards at the airport run out of stock. If you have a prior reservation, you can come to Japan and pick up your product stress-free.

All the providers that we are going to introduce in this article have the option to reserve your SIM card online. It might be wise to make use of it before you make your trip.

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2. Things to keep in mind when choosing a SIM card

Things to keep in mind when choosing a SIM card
Later, we will introduce to you 7 companies that provide travel SIM cards. Before we do that, however, there are some points that you should pay attention to during the selection process.

  1. Connection speed
  2. Amount of data
  3. Coverage
  4. English support
  5. Airport counters

For those who want to know about the recommended providers, click here to jump to the table.

Let’s go into more detail.

① Connection speed

If you are using your phone during a trip, it’s usually going to be actions like browsing the web, messaging, or using Google MAP. In these cases, 3 to 5Mbps will be enough.

For reference, here is a table that shows the ideal internet speeds you are going to need to complete various activities.

Scroll right for more →→

ActivityNecessary Internet Speed
4K Videos/Online Games25 Mbps
Online Meetings10 Mbps
Video Streaming (1080p)5 Mbps
Video Streaming (720p)3 Mbps
Web Browsing/Emails/LINE1 Mbps

You might be wondering how fast the prepaid SIM cards in Japan can get.

Although connection speed does depend on the SIM card provider, you can expect to experience between 1 and 20Mbps at any given time.

In the later table, you will be able to see the average connection speed for each provider. You might want to choose one with faster speeds for safe measure.

Some companies do not publicly release the connection speeds of their SIM cards. In these cases, we have written “unknown” on the table.

Some other SIM card providers write their connection speeds as numbers like 187Mbps; keep in mind that this is only how fast the connection can get in theory.

If we are talking actual connection speeds, Japan’s SIM cards will be around 20Mbps maximum. In the comparison table, we have listed the actual speeds so you will know exactly what to expect.

② Amount of data

If you have been researching prepaid SIM cards, you will know that there are many different data plans depending on the company.

Out of all the different types of plans available, we recommend that you purchase an Unlimited Data SIM card.

This is because if you have a plan with a data limit, you face the risk of running out of data partway through your trip.

It would be more than a bit daunting to lose access to Google MAP and Google Translate in a foreign country.

If you are looking to travel worry-free, you should consider getting a prepaid SIM card with unlimited data.

Be aware of the FUP

When using an unlimited data SIM card, you should know that there is something called a FUP.

What is a FUP?

A Fair Usage Policy (FUP) is a system put in place to allow the equal usage of data.

In order to protect the network quality and the fair usage of radio waves, telecommunications companies limit or suspend the internet connection of those who use a large amount of data in a short amount of time.

Although the product is an unlimited SIM in name, you might get stopped by the FUP and your connection speeds may become slower.

To avoid the FUP, big video downloads, online games, and YouTube binges should be saved for when you can use the WiFi at your hotel.

③ Coverage

The SIM card providers that we will introduce to you all use the networks of Japan’s major carriers. With any of these carriers, the coverage rate will be 99% of the populated area of Japan. This means that you should almost always be able to connect to the internet wherever you are.

However, keep in mind that when going through mountains or underground, even the signals of carriers with the best coverage will become weaker.

④ English support

If you are having issues connecting to the internet or can’t figure out the settings to get your SIM card working, you should be prepared by choosing a prepaid SIM provider that offers English customer support to help you out.

It is important to know these details:

  • Whether you can get in contact by email, phone, or both
  • Whether or not you can contact customer support on the weekends

It might be beneficial to go with a company that can be contacted through both email and phone. You have the option of using the phone during an emergency or sending an email when the situation is not urgent.

Many prepaid SIM providers also do not operate on the weekends. This can be a problem when you need to get ahold of customer service immediately, which is why you may want to choose a company that is open year-round.

⑤ Airport counters

If you are picking your SIM card up from the airport, be sure to check the hours of operation of the airport counters.

This is actually more important than you might think. Depending on the company, some airport counters may not be open for long amounts of time.

A situation in which you go to the airport counter but they aren’t open and you are unable to pick up your SIM card is not impossible.

When you reserve your SIM card, make sure to check the time you will arrive in Japan and make sure it coincides with the hours of operation of the pickup counter.

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3. The best 7 SIM cards for travel in Japan

The best 7 SIM cards for travel in Japan

Scroll right for more →→

ProviderAmount of Data x DaysPricesEnglish Customer SupportReviewsPickupNetworkConnection Speed
#1Sakura MobileUnlimited Data
Rental period length: 8 - 90 days
★★★★☆ 4/5★★★★★ 5/5
  • Phone (7 days a week)
  • Email (7 days a week)
# of reviews: 3,184
Result: Very good
  • Airport
  • Hotel delivery
docomo 4G/LTEFew ~ 20 Mbps
#2HIS MobileUnlimited Data
Rental period length: 8 - 31 days
★★★★★ 5/5★★☆☆☆ 2/5
  • Email (Hours of
    operation unknown)
No reviews found
  • Hotel delivery
docomo 4G/LTEUnknown
#3Any Fone JAPANUnlimited Data
Rental period length: 8 - 30 days
★★☆☆☆ 2/5★★★★★ 5/5
  • Phone (7 days a week)
  • Email (7 days a week)
No reviews found
  • Airport pickup
    (Online reservation
    unavailable)
UnknownUnknown
#4GENKI MOBILE
1 - 30 GB
Rental period length: 1 - 30 days

*You can select your rental period
by the day

★★★☆☆ 3/5★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Phone (Unavailable
    on Sundays)
  • Email (Unavailable
    on Sundays)
# of reviews: 15
Result: Very good
  • Airport
  • Hotel delivery
docomo 4G/LTEUnknown
#5b mobile5 - 7 GB
Rental period length: 10 - 21 days
★★★☆☆ 3/5★★☆☆☆ 2/5
  • Email (Hours of
    operation unknown)
# of reviews: 24
Result: Very good

*From Facebook

  • Hotel delivery
  • Post office
docomo 4G/LTEUnknown
#6eConnect500 MB - 10 GB
Rental period length: 7 - 60 days
★★☆☆☆ 2/5★★☆☆☆ 2/5
  • Email (Hours of
    operation unknown)
# of reviews: 3,620
Result: Very good
  • Hotel delivery
  • Post office
docomo 4G/LTEAround 4 Mbps
#7SoftBank Global
Rental
3 - 10 GB
Rental period length: 31 - 90 days
★★☆☆☆ 2/5★★★★★ 5/5
  • Phone (7 days a week)
  • Email (7 days a week)
# of reviews: 8
Result: Average
  • Airport
  • Electronics retail
    store
SoftBank 4G/LTEUnknown

So, which one should I choose?

Does this give you a better image of which SIM card to choose?
Below, we will explain in more detail three of the providers that we would most strongly recommend.

① Sakura Mobile

Sakura Mobile

Scroll right for more →→

Websitehttps://www.sakuramobile.jp/
Amount of DataUnlimited Data
Rental period length: 8 - 90 days
Prices★★★★☆ 4/5
English Customer
Support
★★★★★ 5/5
  • Phone (7 days a week)
  • Email (7 days a week)
Reviews# of reviews: 3,184
Result: Very good
Pickup
  • Airport
  • Hotel delivery
Networkdocomo 4G/LTE
Connection SpeedFew ~ 20 Mbps

Sakura Mobile’s SIM cards are not the cheapest on the list. However, the connection speed is quite fast, ranging from a few to 20Mbps. The data is also unlimited.

Some of the best points of Sakura Mobile include the following:

  • Long operation hours of airport pickup counters
  • English customer support available year-round
  • A large number of positive reviews

Let’s go into more detail.

Operation hours of the airport counters are long

Most of the companies on the table above do not have airport pickup counters but require pickup at the airport post office. Depending on the time of your flight, you might miss the hours that the post office is open.

Sakura Mobile, on the other hand, has airport pickup counters with very long operation hours, so you should be able to pick up your SIM card without any issues.

English support available year-round

The English customer support at Sakura Mobile is available 365 days a year, making it simple and easy to get help when you run into difficulties with your SIM card.

You can also contact customer support through email.

A large number of positive reviews

There are over 3,000 positive reviews on Sakura Mobile’s website. Comparing this number to other providers on the table, you can see that Sakura Mobile has a significantly higher number of positive reviews than its competitors.

Additional information
Main airport pickup counters

  • Narita Airport Terminal 1, 2 / Operation hours: 7:00 am until time of last flight (Every day)
  • Haneda Airport / Operation hours: 24 hours a day (Every day)
  • Kansai Int. Airport / Operation hours: 7:00 am – 7:00 pm (Every day)

Visit Sakura Mobile here.

Official Website: https://www.sakuramobile.jp/

How to pick up your SIM card from the airport counter

Picking up your SIM card from the airport counter is simple. If you have the reservation confirmation email from Sakura Mobile and your passport with you, you should have no problem.

In the following video, the staff of the YouTube channel, “MisoDog TV” explain how to pick up a Sakura Mobile SIM card from the airport.

The pick-up process starts from 0:49.

↑ Click to play YouTube video

② HIS Mobile

HIS Mobile

Scroll right for more →→

Websitehttps://www.his-j.com/
Amount of DataUnlimited Data
Rental period length: 8 - 31 days
Prices★★★★★ 5/5
English Customer
Support
★★☆☆☆ 2/5
(Hours of operation unknown)
ReviewsNo reviews found
Pickup
  • Hotel delivery
Networkdocomo 4G/LTE
Connection SpeedUnknown

HIS Mobile is one of the cheapest unlimited SIM card options on the table.

However, one of the downsides to this service is that hotel delivery is the only pickup option available. This means that you will not have access to the internet until you get to your hotel.

Additional Information
Main airport counters: None

Visit HIS Mobile here.

Official Website: https://www.his-j.com/

③ GENKI MOBILE

Genki Mobile

Scroll right for more →→

Websitehttps://www.genkimobile.com/
Amount of Data
1 - 30 GB
Rental period length: 1 - 30 days

*You can select your rental period
by the day

Prices★★★☆☆ 3/5
English Customer
Support
★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Phone (Unavailable on Sundays)
  • Email (Unavailable on Sundays)
Reviews# of reviews: 15
Result: Very good
Pickup
  • Airport
  • Hotel delivery
Networkdocomo 4G/LTE
Connection SpeedUnknown

GENKI MOBILE allows you to choose the exact number of days that you want to use your SIM card and you are allowed 1GB per day.

GENKI MOBILE has airport counters stationed at the major airports in Japan. You will be able to get connected to the internet as soon as you land in Japan.

The one downside to GENKI MOBILE is that there is no option to get an unlimited data plan. The maximum amount of data you can use in a day is also 1GB, which means it is possible to use all of it at once.

Additional information
Main airport counters:

  • Narita Airport Terminal 1, 2 / Operation hours: 6:30 a.m. until time of last flight (Every day)
  • Haneda Airport / Operation hours: 24 hours (Every day)
  • Kansai Int. Airport / Operation hours: 6:15am – 10:30pm (Every day)

Visit GENKI MOBILE here.

Official Website: https://www.genkimobile.com/

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4. SIM vs. Pocket WiFi

Pocket WiFi vs SIM card
SIM cards are not the only option for staying connected during your trip to Japan. A device called Pocket WiFi (also referred to as a mobile hotspot or a portable WiFi router) is also popular among tourists.

For those of you who are debating over which one to choose, we have prepared a comparison table.

Scroll right for more →→

Pocket WiFiSIM Card
PriceRelatively highRelatively low
Set UpReady to use out of the boxRequires changing
the device's settings
Supported
Devices
All WiFi-compatible devicesSmartphones and tablets
that are unlocked
Battery LifeRequires regular chargingNo charging required
Best UseTravelers in a group or
travelers with multiple devices
Solo travelers with
one mobile device

If the following apply to you, we recommend that you choose Pocket WiFi.

  • You want to use the internet right away without having to set anything up
  • You want to share the data with your friends and/or family

On the other hand, you should be looking into getting a SIM card if you fall into these categories:

  • You don’t want to have to carry around a Pocket WiFi device
  • You are worried about the Pocket WiFi running out of battery
  • You do not have anyone in particular you want to share the data with

At Sakura Mobile, we carry not only SIM cards but Pocket WiFi as well. If you are interested, please check out our homepage.

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5. SIM card FAQ

SIM card FAQ

Can I use a Japanese SIM card with my phone?

To be able to use a Japanese SIM card, your device must meet the following conditions:

  • It is a SIM-free device (i.e. unlocked device)
  • It can receive Japanese carriers’ signals

If you are unsure whether or not your device is unlocked, you can confirm with your cellphone carrier or shop.

To check if your phone accepts the signals of Japanese carriers, you must look up the frequency bands that your phone can receive.

If you are not knowledgeable about telecommunications and phone settings, chances are you do not know how to figure this out on your own. You should consider contacting your carrier to get the necessary information before coming to Japan.

You can check the following link to find out if your device is compatible with Sakura Mobile’s SIM cards.

Another option is to send us an email with your device name and model number. Our staff is available to help you.

How do I set up my SIM card?

The setup process for SIM cards depends on the type of device and your provider. However, completing the steps while referring to a manual is quite easy and you should have it done within 10 to 15 minutes.

Is there free WiFi in Japan?

In Japan, you can occasionally find free WiFi in places like Starbucks and some department stores.

However, the number of places that provide free WiFi in Japan are few and far between. Especially when traveling, you are going to want a stable and consistent internet connection, so getting Pocket WiFi or a SIM card is a must.

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Final thoughts

What do you think? Do you feel a little bit more prepared to choose a SIM card for your trip to Japan?

In this article, we explained what exactly to pay attention to when looking into prepaid SIM cards, some of the best providers that offer them, and the different options you have for an internet connection during your trip.

We hope that this article helped you in your search for reliable internet on your journey to Japan.

Thank you for reading and good luck!

Conclusion: Which SIM card provider should I choose?

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