MVNO Japan Comparison: Which Japan MVNO Is Right for You?

mvno japan comparison

When it comes to wireless data, in Japan, you have the choice of going with one of the three big network operators, all of which require lengthy contracts, Japanese credit cards, and a Japanese billing address. For tourists, short-term residents, or anyone who doesn’t have a Japanese credit card or billing address, MVNOs are the way to go. Keep reading to find out what they are and how to pick the best one for your wireless needs with our Japan MVNO comparison.

What Does MVNO Stand For?

mvno japan comparison

Updated: April 4, 2024

MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, a company that leases network capacity from one of the big three Japanese operators.

These smaller companies can offer more flexible data plans because they don’t need to maintain a massive network infrastructure. Instead, they “rent” network space. The benefit of using MVNOs is that they tend to focus on creating plans that match specific groups of customers, which means you’re more likely to find a plan that fits your unique needs.

Each MVNO has advantages and disadvantages. Some offer smaller data at lower prices, while others offer faster speeds but have hidden fees. The only difficulty is figuring out which plan is right for you.

Japan MVNO Comparison

 Sakura MobileY!Mobile 
UQ MobileRakuten Mobile  

Smallest planVOICE & DATA SIM
Simple 2S
Mini Mini Plan
Rakuten Saikyo Plan
Mini Plan
3GB Plan
Dual Type Maipita
(デュアルタイプ マイピタ)
Monthly price327823652365107899021671298
Rate foe callDomestic:
16.5 JPY/30 sec

International: 16.5 JPY/30 sec ~

 *Discount rates with Sakura Dial app
22yen/30 sec.

 Unlimited call  (within 10minutes)

通話放題ライト Unlimited call (within 10minutes)  880yen/mon 
Free unlimited call by linking with a Rakuten app 
22yen/30 sec. 

Unlimited call (within 5minutes)  550yen/Mon  

Unlimited call  (within 5minutes)  880ysn/Mon  

Unlimited call  (within 10minutes)
Payment methods・Credit card
*international card 〇
・Bank transfer
・convenience store   
・Credit card
*international card ×
・Bank transfer

・Credit card
*international card ×
・Bank transfer

・Credit card
*international card ×
・Bank transfer
・Rakuten point   
・Credit card
*international card ×
・Bank transfer
・Credit card *international card × ・Bank transfer

Credit card 
How to receiveSIM :Pickup at the airport or Our offices / Shipping

eSIM: download

SIM: Shipping

eSIM: download 
SIM: Pick up at a store / shipping mail (about one week)

eSIM: QR code 
SIM: Shipping

eSIM: download 
SIM: Shipping (2days~)

eSIM: download
SIM: Shipping

eSIM: download
SIM: Shipping (2-7days) 

eSIM: download
 Necessity of address for identification Only passport is needed for airport pickup
English support for long-term plansFull English support 7 days a week English website and support are availableNoneEnglish website and support are available English website is available. Application and support are available only in Japanese. NoneNone

*¹ eKYC, Electronic Know Your Customer, is a digital process used to verify individuals’ identities remotely. Compared to traditional methods, all the procedures can be completed online, making the identification process simpler and faster.

As you can see above in our Japan MVNO comparison, it can be difficult to find a wireless network plan that fits your needs. When comparing MVNO plans, it’s best to consider more than just the advertised price or data amount because the cheapest plans can quickly become more expensive. In addition to the comparison we’ve provided, other important points to check are:

  • Data cap policy
  • Throttling policy
  • Credit card fees

Japan MVNO List


Sakura Mobile is an MVNO that focuses on providing wireless network support in a variety of languages, including English. While most companies require documentation confirming a Japanese address for identification purposes, its airport pickup service only necessitates a valid passport. International credit and debit cards are accepted.


A subsidiary of SoftBank, Y!Mobile is more focused on providing broadband services as well as long-term packages and bundles for households. Plans are closer to those of traditional providers than MVNOs and are mostly tailored for Japanese residents.


UQ Mobile is part of AU Mobile and uses the AU network. UQ Mobile offers many of the same products as the parent company, which includes a bewildering number of add-ons like text messaging or voice minutes, each with their own additional cost.


The Japanese online retailer Rakuten also offers phone services through its Rakuten Mobile brand. The plan includes unlimited calling but requires downloading a dedicated app.

LINEMO is a new MVNO service offered by LINE, the provider of Japan’s top messenger and social media app. The plan comes with extra perks for LINE users. While an English website is accessible, applications and support are provided only in Japanese through LINE or chat.

Irumo is a new mobile plan provided by Docomo. Irumo is recommended for those who want to use the Docomo network for a cheap price, as they offer small amount of data for a reasonable price.


Mineo is another MVNO that provides a selection of networks. While the most affordable data plan of 1GB is suitable only for light usage, additional data can be added for ¥55 per 100MB when you run low on data capacity.


Considered to be the original Japanese MVNO, B-Mobile recently started offering larger data caps for an additional fee. Plans connect to the Docomo or SoftBank networks and have a 5-month minimum contract with a penalty for early cancellation. Visitors to Japan have the option of using a data-only SIM card; but with expensive delivery and restrictive terms of service, it may not be convenient enough to be an option for many.


Biglobe Mobile focus mainly on larger data caps. They have a minimum 1-year contract, an expensive early cancellation fee, and only accept Japanese credit cards. Unlike many other MVNOs, the company offers data caps of up to 20GB for an additional monthly fee.

As one of the better-established MVNOs, Iijmio offers SIM card plans for both Docomo and AU and has a solid reputation among Japanese residents. With typical hidden fees, including variable cancellation fees and no English-language support, it may be tricky to order a plan that suits you for a reasonable price unless you’re comfortable with Japanese-language contracts.


A recent addition to the MVNO market, LINE offers a reasonable base price, unlimited data for major social networks, and a simple system for adding extra features, like SMS messaging and larger data caps. There ,is howev,er a minimum one-year contract and steep termination fees that make the initial price much less attractive for potential users. LINE pay is accepted, but foreign debit cards can’t be used.


U-Mobile features a large number of contracts. They offer a base data cap of 3GB and a relatively short minimum contract period of 6 months, with a termination fee. No English language support and being required to use a Japanese credit card makes U-Mobile difficult for most international visitors to use.

What Makes Sakura Mobile Unique?

mvno japan comparison

Because Sakura Mobile’s wireless network plans focus on providing the best services for international visitors and expats in Japan, you’re likely to find a plan tailored to your specific needs.

No Contracts

Sakura Mobile doesn’t require a minimum contract length or early cancellation fee. This makes our plans ideal for anyone visiting Japan on holiday or business, or as a student. Also, the flexible usage terms can be tailored to your individual needs, from extending your stay to increasing data caps.

Easy Payment Options

Payment is quick, easy, and available in English. Whether you are using a Japanese credit card, an international credit card, or a debit card from your home country, it’s quick and easy to pay online. You can even pay with cash at a convenience store! All customer support is available in English, too.

Access Data-only SIM Options

Telephone numbers are necessary in many situations in Japan, such as when renting an apartment or making a reservation at a restaurant. Therefore, we recommend a SIM with Voice. However, for those who solely require internet access without the need for voice services, we also offer data-only SIM.

Wireless Device Options to Fit Your Needs

Sakura Mobile offers Mobile WiFi Routers in case your phone isn’t compatible with Japanese SIM cards. A mobile router is an excellent option for tablet devices, laptops, and older smartphone models. The same generous data caps and fast 4G LTE speed included with our SIM cards are also available for our mobile router customers.

Access Data-only SIM Options

Telephone numbers are necessary in many situations in Japan, such as when renting an apartment or making a reservation at a restaurant. Therefore, we recommend a SIM with Voice. However, for those who solely require internet access without the need for voice services, we also offer data-only SIM.

Choose Sakura Mobile as Your Japan MVNO

There are a growing number of MVNOs and wireless network plans in Japan, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Whether you need a flexible short-term plan, a reliable business solution, or a wireless device to match your unique lifestyle, Sakura Mobile is a great choice for your Japan MVNO!