Kanto | Tokyo Sightseeing

Traveling in Japan, How to Get Connected?

SIM cards big camera store

You may find your self in need of internet in Japan, some useful mobile apps need an active internet connection in order to work. To use them you could either use one of the thousand free Wi-Fi hotspots in Tokyo or try a mobile data plan.  Let’s take a look at our options. Wifi, cheap mobile data, or Japan Unlimited SIM Card??

Wi-Fi Hotspots in Tokyo

Using a Wi-Fi hotspot is the cheapest way to get connected in Japan. Worldwide companies like Starbucks and 7-11 offer free WiFi Hotspots at their locations. Please keep in mind that they usually have a time restriction of about 2 hours. The following picture provides you a nice list of all major free Wi-Fi locations around Tokyo.

Free major WiFi locations
WiFi Locations – Connecting to the Internet

Furthermore, a lot of Japanese cafés follow the trend and offer a Wi-Fi service for their customers as well. Most of these cafés have a postcard sized sign with the SSID and password. You can find these cafés by the WiFi-Signs on the outside.

Free-WiFi-Sign – Connecting to the Internet

Besides the cafés and shops, most of the Tokyo underground stations (Tokyo Metro, Toei Subway and JR East) offer a free WiFi-Service for tourists as well. While traveling with the Tokyo Metro you can easily connect using their web interface.

Tokyo Metro Free Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi Sign at the Station

But what to do when venturing outside of the big cities like Tokyo? If you have to be connected all the time, or while staying in the countryside, it can be a real struggle finding a free Wi-Fi hotspot. Let me give you some recommendations on how to get yourself a mobile data plan in Japan.

 

Mobile data plans

When arriving at the biggest airport near Tokyo, Narita airport, you will be confronted with a huge amount of sim card providers. Before you hastily choose a sim card,  let’s have a look on how to find the sim card that suits you the best.

First, think about the duration of your stay in Japan. Depending on this, there is a huge change in the variety of products. To make this one easier I have divided the duration of your stay into three different groups. First, short time holiday makers with a duration up to two weeks. Next, long time travelers with a duration of up to three months. The last group targets people staying in Japan for more than three months and up to one year.

 

Short Time Holiday:

If you are staying for such a short period, it doesn’t make sense to set up a mobile contract. I highly recommend using a prepaid data sim card. The one I have had the best experience with is the Japan Travel Sim Card. They are offering a short time package with 1 GB data for your stay. Just head to the nearest Big Camera, or get one at the airport. Look out for the official Japan Travel Sim Card logo:

Japan travel sim card logo
Source: Japan Travel Sim Card – Purchasing Data Plans

You just have to pay at the cashier (cash or credit card), and you can take the sim card with you. Afterwards you have to enter some personal information (have your passport with you), because you will be asked to enter your passport number) and that’s it! You now have up to 1GB high-speed internet connection.

 

Long Time Holiday Makers:

Exploring the Japanese countryside and different cities can take some time. Travelers staying in Japan for up to three months have two options. The easiest one is the Japan travel sim card as well. They are offering a 3-month data plan with up to 2 GB of internet. If you use all of your 2GB data, you can buy new data for 3.000¥ per 2GB (same with the 1 GB plan from above). Just have in mind that recharging your internet volume does NOT extend your 3-month usage time!

Due to the fact that the number of Japan tourists is increasing very fast, there are new mobile data plan offers nearly every day. Just have a look at this picture with all these different sim cards in a big camera store.

SIM cards big camera store
Sim Cards available for purchase at BIC Camera

Some of them offer a kind of mobile contract with no minimum duration and the possibility to pay the monthly fees at an combini or cash at the reseller. If your data consumption is extremely high and you need up to 6GB per month just have a look for this one. Starting at 26$ (2GB) per month you can get these prepaid contracts. Please keep in mind that the initial fees can be very high (>50$), turning it into an expensive option. So always calculate how much data volume you really need, or you can lower your data consumption to save some money. You can buy these prepaid contracts at every Big Camera department, electronic markets or even the bureau of your landlord.

 

Wait!! Need A Japanese Phone Number and You don’t Have the Residence Card?

Whilst there are numerous varieties of  data sims you can find at the airport or confines, however once you try to get a Japanese SIM Card, you might see some obstacles!  Because they ask you to use your Japanese credit card and Residents’ Visa. Plus all of the paper works will be in Japanese. For travellers, these facts make you feel impossible..Have you considered Japan Unlimited SIM Card?

Mobal – The Best Solution to Get Japan Unlimited SIM Card

Prepaid SIMs are usually data-only – so, if you need a Japanese phone number for work or pleasure, prepaid services are simply not an option.

Mobal offers the only postpaid data and voice SIM without a residence card. Data is unlimited and cards are shipped free to anywhere in the world so you will receive the data sim cards before visiting Japan.

The majority of profits go to Seibo Japan, a charity that provides hot meals to school children around the world.

Mobal – The Services

  • Unlimited data – use as much data as you like! ( Because 1G is too little for travellers.. )
  • Get a Japanese phone number & incoming calls and texts for FREE!
  • No contract, no termination fees (You can cancel it anytime!!)
  • ENGLISH SERVICES are AVAILABLE! ( This is one of the most important point! )
  • Perfect for short or long-term travellers to Japan.

More information and purchasing: here

 

I hope you can find the mobile plan that suits you the best using this guide. If you are still required to set up phone calls in Japan, please have a look at Skype and the possibility of buying a domestic number. Using the mobile phone app and after charging your account, you will be able to receive and make (17¥/min.) domestic phone calls.

Skype app & number
Skype App: Making Phone Calls