If you’re a tourist going to Japan and want to continue using your smartphone for surfing the web and making calls, you may already be considering going with a voice+data package. This type of plan seems straight forward, but what you may not know is that there is more than one option available for accessing your e-mails and calling your friends and family. If this sounds like what you need, be sure to read on and find out which voice+data option is best for you. What we cover:
Making the Right Voice+Data Decision for Your Trip to Japan
If you think you need voice+data services during your trip to Japan, it might help to make a quick mental comparison: Which are you more likely you use in the following situations: voice or data?
|Catching up with friends & family||Phone||Email, Facebook, Twitter, Sype, Line|
|Navigating Japan||–||Google Maps, Hyperdia (train finder)|
|Finding Restaurants||–||Restaurant apps|
|Talking with Japanese locals||–||Google Translate|
Looking at this list, most of these situations require data instead of voice. Even calling overseas offers the option of using data or voice. Of course, in the event of an emergency, accident or other problems, the situation can be less clear.
Communicating in Japan during Emergencies
If you’re worried about being caught in an accident or other emergency in Japan without the ability to make a phone call, take a moment to consider where you’ll be. Japan is well-known as one of the safest countries in the world with an extremely low crime rate and extremely helpful citizens; you are unlikely to be robbed, mugged or otherwise bothered in Japan. That said, you may still experience an unforeseen accident such as a broken arm or a sudden illness that requires urgent assistance. Again, it’s important to consider how you would communicate in the following situations:
|Talking with the police||–||Google Maps, Google Translate|
|Finding an English-speaking Hospital||–||Google Maps, Google Translate|
|Asking the Tokyo Metro for Lost & Found||–||Google Translate, Hyperdia|
|Missing Your Train||–||Hyperdia|
|Taking a Taxi||–||Google Maps, Google Translate|
3 Voice+Data Mobile Options
There are basically three options for tourists in Japan who want to be able to access the Internet and make a phone call:
Option 1: Docomo Data SIM
While you may initially wonder how a data-only SIM card can make phone calls, it really is the cheapest and most practical voice+data option available for most tourists coming to Japan. Why? Docomo data SIM cards allows you to use Skype, Line or any other VoIP app, which makes international calls extremely easy.
- It’s free if both you and the other person uses the same app.
- It costs only a small fee if you call a landline or mobile number.
If you’re not interested in using Skype, you can also supplement a data-only SIM by buying a cheap international calling card PIN through an online retailer (public payphones are still pretty easy to find in most of Japan’s metro areas). Most online calling cards are sold starting at 1,000–2,000 yen, but we suggest paying the smallest amount since you’re unlikely to need to call internationally more than a couple time for a short vacation. If you think this option fits your needs, we suggest renting one of our Docomo Data SIM cards, which are supported by the largest mobile network in Japan.
Option 2: Voice+Data SIM Card
This option combines voice and data services into one package. While not ideal for most tourists coming to Japan who are comfortable using Skype or Line, anyone traveling to Japan requiring frequent international calls on a secure line may want to consider this option. You’ll have to pay twice as much a day in fees for this option, but for the select few who need it, this option is available by some carriers.
Option 3: Smartphone Rental
When it comes to renting a smartphone in Japan for a short vacation, this option is likely only good for tourists who don’t already own a smartphone. If you don’t fall into this group, then options 1 and 2 are much better. The major problems with this option 3 are:
- Smartphone rentals are much more expensive then SIM cards.
- Smartphone rentals require that you transfer all of pictures, videos, and text messages to another device before returning it.
- Smartphone rentals raise the concern of security issues if you accidentally store sensitive information on it.
Is a Docomo Data SIM Card Right for You?
We hope this information helps clear up your options on how you can make phone calls while your traveling abroad. If you think a Docomo data SIM will meet your needs on your next trip to Japan, we invite you check out our wide variety of SIM card plans. Whatever option you ultimately choose, we wish you the best during your trip to Japan—happy travelling!