Getting a Mobile Phone- It’s not Japan-easy!
We’ve already covered the pitfalls to watch out for when coming to Japan but there’s one more thing we need to prepare you for. Getting a mobile phone or more specifically getting a SIM to get your smartphone up and running.
Assuming you’re planning to travel to Japan with a SIM and it’s unlocked we’re happy to say you have nothing to worry about.
You’re not yet Japanese
Most people in Japan are tied into complex multi-year contracts which cover both handset and SIM and don’t seem too put out. However for new arrivals to Japan the future is too hard to predict and with early termination fees you are best avoiding signing up to a long contract. Besides unless you’ve learned Japanese prior to arrival (if you have we take our hats off to you!) you won’t really know what’s on offer.
Arriving at any of Japan’s major airports you might be forgiven for thinking there’s actually a lot of choice out there but be wary of rental SIM card options- these are invariably expensive and predicated on the fact that a non-resident to Japan cannot get a voice/data SIM card without signing a dreaded contract.
Luckily that’s no longer the case as we’re about to explain.
But for the record even if you are in need of a Data-only Sim the airport is not the cheapest location.
Voice & Data For ALL
One really easy option launched in early 2017 is the Japan Unlimited SIM by Mobal. Ideal for tourists and residents it can be purchased online and delivered for free anywhere in the world. You don’t need a visa or a residence card so you can purchase the SIM weeks or even months in advance of travel and activate online from a date of your choosing.
So far this is the only voice/data SIM that has no contract/ no termination fee and as it comes with a Japanese phone number (using the Softbank network) and 7GBs of fast data monthly it is the perfect starter pack. If you find something better (albeit on contract) then you simply cancel your subscription and move on.
Flexible Payment Plans
For Tourists there is the 15-day Unlimited Data Package for 4,000 yen (plus 3,000 yen for the SIM online) or the 30-day Unlimited Data Package for 6,000 yen (plus 3,000 yen for SIM online).
If you plan to stay longer you can choose the ongoing plans at 6,000 yen/month (or 4,500 yen for students & teachers).
All plans have free incoming calls and texts and all plans have free Mobal to Mobal calls 20 hours a day!
In addition their domestic call rates to other carriers (non-Softbank) cost only 29 yen/minute. With English-language customer support and payment possible by International credit/debit card or Paypal this really has simplified life in Japan for a multitude of reasons which would justify another article.
Too good to be true
You might be thinking- hang on where’s the catch? This is too easy. There isn’t any catch but it gets better as the Japan Unlimited SIM also helps change the world. Profits from the Mobal SIM are used to support a Japanese NGO-Seibo- and in turn help provide valuable school meals in Malawi, Africa.
If you want to know more- click here!