Yes, it is possible to buy prepaid data-only SIM cards for your smartphones or devices in Japan. Here, I’ll tell you the best deal based on my own experiences. I’ll also present another good option: pocket wifi (mobile router) rentals.
- You can purchase a Japan SIM card, eSIM or pocket wifi to pick up on arrival at Narita, Haneda or Osaka airports. Staff at the pickup point will help you configure your device. This is probably the simplest option.
- Alternatively, you can buy Japan Travel SIM cards like the IIJmio Japan Travel SIM at Bic Camera shops which are everywhere.
- You can make voice calls using services like Skype or Facetime with data-only SIMs.
- Another good option for travelers is to rent a pocket wifi (mobile router) like the Ninja Wifi Router.
- If you are going to buy a SIM card in Japan, you’ll find that Bic Camera shops have the best selection and they will also install the SIM card for you if you wish (for ¥2,200).
- Wifi is common in Japan and you’ll usually find it in hotels and guesthouses, as well as many coffee shops and restaurants. But, if you want to be online everywhere you go, you’ll need to buy a SIM card. You can now buy a data-only SIM card in Japan, either online for pickup on arrival at Narita or Haneda airports or by buying over-the-counter once you’re in Tokyo.
What You’ll Need
- First, you'll need an unlocked smartphone or device to use a prepaid SIM. You should be able to configure the APN settings yourself. Note, however, that if you buy your SIM at a Bic Camera shop, they will do the installation and set up for ¥2,200.
Data-Only Prepaid SIM Cards Available to Tourists in Japan
There are three major prepaid data-only SIM cards available to travelers in Japan:
- IIJmio Japan Travel SIM
- B Mobile Visitor SIM
- Bic SIM
I’ll cover IIJmio and B Mobile in detail below. Bic SIM is similar.
IIJmio Japan Travel SIM
- IIJmio offers two prepaid SIMs to travelers in Japan:
1.5GB/30 day (¥1,980 at Bic Camera shops)
3GB/30 days (¥2,480 at Bic Camera shops)
- You can buy them at Bic Camera shops, which can be found in most major Japanese cities. Tokyo is filled with Bic Camera shops. If you've just arrived at Tokyo Station, the Yurakucho Branch is about 10 minutes’ walk from the station. Enter via the Kokusai (International) Forum Entrance (the closest to Tokyo Station) and you’ll see the SIM card display almost immediately in front of you (note that they tend to move these things around, so this may change by the time you read this). For other branches in Tokyo and the rest of Japan, use this Bic Camera store locator to find a convenient branch.
B Mobile Visitor SIM
- Another option for travelers to Japan is the B Mobile Visitor SIM.
- B Mobile Visitor SIM: 5GB/10 days (¥1,980 purchased online)
- While this offers less data than the IIJmio Japan Travel SIM, it can be purchased online or in shops here in Japan. Here is a list of shops selling B Mobile Visitor SIMs. Here is the online B Mobile Visitor SIM purchase page. If you buy one online, they can ship it to your hotel or to a post office at your arrival airport (they will hold it for you until your arrival and you can pick it up there).
Pocket Wifi (Mobile Router) Rental
- Another great option for visitors to Japan is to rent a pocket wifi unit. This is good for people who have locked devices and those who don’t want to bother with APN settings. A pocket wifi is also a great option for people traveling in a group (several people can log onto one device). And, these units have unlimited data and they tend to be very fast.
- You can rent a wifi router online which will be waiting for you when you arrive at the airport. This gives you unlimited data and you can connect up to 14 devices. You simply drop the unit off at the airport too when you leave.
For More Details
- For a high-level overview of the issues involved with cell phone rental, SIM cards and pocket wifis in Japan, see my Internet In Japan For Tourists: Wifi, Pocket Wifi, SIM Cards, Rental Phones etc page on my other website InsideKyoto.com
- The situation with SIM cards, cell phone rentals and wifi in Japan is changing fast. The situation could change by the time you read this. I’ll try to keep this page updated, but always do your own research to make sure you get the best deal.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals. Check my guides to arriving at Narita Airport and at Haneda Airport.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world