OK, it seems you can get pre-paid SIM's for the iPhone from Softbank in Japan. They have many outlet's, but one apparently in Narita airport as you arrive. (I'll try to confirm this on my forthcoming trip).
However, the downside is that these SIM's are only for calls and SMS ... not data, which is much the same problem as I've encountered everywhere, so you'll have to rely on WiFi for that.
If anyone has any information to the contrary, please post it here.
simon almost 9 years ago
Hi Karen, I just came back from Japan with this very question in mind. You can indeed hire sim-cards from Softbank that allow 3G and data transmission, and compared to international data roaming (which can reach $20,000AUD per GIGABYTE), it's quite cheap. (Around 1500 yen a day, with an unlimited cap of 4500 yen) I saw several kiosks at Kansai airport in Osaka that offered this service.
Here is some information from Softbank here:
The micro-SIM problem I am not sure about - but am assuming it would be accommodated. over 8 years ago
Thanks Jesse, excellent advice.
I've booked one for my trip to Japan and yes they do have micro-sims for iPhone 4, although they say this won't work in an iPad which is a bit weird! Also the cost is 105yen/day ... with CAP of 1500 yen a day on the data. You still only pay for what you actually use so that's 105 yen ($2 per day) + data, which is pretty compelling as a service.
I wish they had this in every country! over 8 years ago
Well, I did go and the service was excellent. One this they don't really don't make quite clear although it isn't really a problem, is that this isn't a data cap but a flat rate per day. So the bill I eventually got for the 26 days I was there including all voice and data - which I was using all day every day unlimited - was:
¥2625 + 18585 + 60 + 13 + 315 = ¥21,598 (VOICE & SMS)
¥1,500 x 25 days = ¥37,500 (DATA)
Maybe not for everyone but it was the first time for me it's been even vaguely economic to do so in another country.
(For the record, when I used data every day, the bill for this were it on global roaming would have been ¥-2,356,982 .... or A$27,406 (I don't think so!)
More reports on pro's and con's of the service will be on my blog shortly.
Simon over 8 years ago
I initially could not reconcile Simon's statement with that on the Softbank website (http://www.softbank-rental.jp/campaign/jpng/), where they say "Data communication charges are metered and customers pay only for the data used.".
The fact is, they are a bit sneaky. The ¥1,500 is not a flat rate per day (as in, you always pay that much), nor is it exactly a *daily* cap (as in they reset the counter every day). The way it works is, say you blow ¥5,000 yen on data the first day of a 3-day trip, and then have no data usage for the next two days. They will charge you the maximum, ¥1,500 for each of those 3 days, so you will pay ¥4,500 and get ¥500 free.
With the caps that people are used to in Australia, once you hit the limit, the rest is free for the remainder of the time period. With this service, there is no time period after which the counter is reset. Your data usage is averaged over the entire stay.
Quote: "This charge is capped at an amount equal to the number of days of the rental multiplied by 1,500 Yen (for example 3 day rental x 1,500 Yen = 4,500 Yen cap). 1,500 Yen does not mean the daily data cap."
Also, they charge data at ¥0.32 per 128 byte packet, or ¥2,621 per MB (A$30.29 per MB), which is actually 50% higher than what Optus charges for global roaming data, I believe. Where you save is on local calls.
The other options I'm currently weighing up are:
Passport SIM http://www.telestial.com/sim_cards.php
TravelSIM https://www.travelsim.net.au/Shop/ over 8 years ago
Also, note with the last two options I mentioned, to make a call, even a local one, you call a special number and then dial the number you want to call and hang up. They then make the connection for you and call you back.
So they are able to offer quite cheap calls on that basis, because they are taking advantage of the fact that to receive a call usually costs nothing. over 8 years ago
I know of these other SIM card providers, but I'm specifically interested in SIM cards WITH DATA, which is a tricky business indeed! Global Roaming isn't an option because I don't know of any local carrier that caps global roaming charges nor do I know of a travel sim company with data costs that are even close to being viable.
If anyone has ANY information of SIM cards that can be bought on arrival WITH data and caps, can you please email me as I'm hoping to build up a database of this knowledge for use by travellers to any country. over 8 years ago
Data charges are a nightmare. I'm heading to Japan for 63 days. If I sip a mere 5 MB a day, that's $1,084 with SoftBank and between A$6,450 and A$11,370 for the various global roaming options. To hell with all of that. Data stays switched off. It would be cheaper to always stay in hotels with WiFi. over 8 years agoAnswered by Dangerous Dave via WorldNomads.com
I spend a lot of time in Japan, but am only a visitor each time.... I have a prepaid card and I use it for voice and sms... and sometimes S!mail if I am using my keitai.
The data part was always a pain, but I have recently bought a WiMax mobile router which is pretty good... I got it from Yodobashi Camera in Yokohama Station... royter does not need a SIM or anything like that... keep your prepaid SIM in your phone to get regualr calls, etc.
The router itself cost me about 15,000 yen and then I pay 4800 yen per month for maximum useage... while I am not in Japan and not using data, the plan automaticaly reverts to 350 yen per month... just to keep the account going.... my visa card is automatically charged.
The WiMax router receives a Wimax signal and my smart phone comnnects to it via regular WiFi...
In addition if I put it on it's charger and plug a LAN line into it, it becomes a regular LAN WiFi router....
I can also connect it directly to my computer... it receives the WiMax signal and delivers data to my lapto via Cat 5 cable.
Very versitile... all i needed was my credit card... not even ID..!!
.. and it can handle up to 10 devices at once... have traveled from Tokyo to Fukuoka and have had great coverage... plus they have special WiFi at airports, etc and you can connect your device directly to these with your account number as a free service.
Maybe a good option for some people...
Cheers! over 8 years agoAnswered by Tokyo Sencho via WorldNomads.com
Hi all, I read through the thread and got a burning question: may I able to get a pre-paid SIM that works on a normal Sony/Sam Sung phone at Narita Airport. If so, where could I get it? I only require voice and sms functions for 6 days. Please advise on the charges as well.
Thanks in advance! over 8 years ago
i live in holland and i got an iphone4 from japan. there is a simlock on it. how can i get a micro sim for it? the company should be SOFTBANK. hope u guys can help me over 8 years agoAnswered by volkan via WorldNomads.com
I live in Japan and Softbank is actually the worst cell phone company. I would go with AU. I have a Softbank IPhone and it is OK sevice, but very limited and expensive. Also when you look at what Simon paid 59098 Yen that is like $787 U.S. Dollars for 26 days of service that is ridiculous and also Softbank does not have a plan that includes unlimited voice they do unlimited Data but voice is charged per 30 seconds unless you are calling another Softbak customer then it is free from 1 am to 9pm. If you call any land line you will be charged per 30 seconds. almost 8 years agoAnswered by Larry Thomas via WorldNomads.com
B-Mobile (an MVNO on NTT Docomo so Japan nationwide and fast) now has prepaid data-only SIM cards available for order online with pickup at a specified airport Post Office upon your arrival. (Check opening hours match your flight arrival time)
Check the Devices compatibility page carefully -- you need 3G WCDMA/UMTS 850Mhz support (eg. Telstra NextG / TelecomXT NZ / AT&T USA or iPhone 4/4S/5)... and it seems NTT's network policy blocks devices that NTT hasn't qualified. (NB. When B-Mobile describes a phone as 'SIM free' they mean carrier unlocked. )
My Telstra-issue Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000T tablet works fine, as does our TelecomXT-issue ZTE MF636 USB dongle. :-)
Hope this is useful for your next trip to Japan.
Disclaimer: NO WARRANTY as to accuracy of this info. NO TECH SUPPORT to be found here. I do not work for B-Mobile or any affiliate. over 6 years agoAnswered by Heath via WorldNomads.com
You can also rent a pocket Wi-Fi, just like Tokyo Sencho bought. the battery lasts for a day. there are many providers with varied pricing. I rented PuPuRu when I visited Japan. there are many cheaper and more expensive ones. pay attention to the terms of data allowance, returning the device, etc. there are also several kind of return policies for sim card providers: by post, by yourself to their office, or the best: no need to return, bring it home or throw away. over 5 years ago
You can buy prepaid sim card. Price is 2980JPY for 1.5GB, 3980JPY for 3GB on Docomo network. http://buyprepaidsimjapan.com/
Also you can choose another one. Price is 5000JPY for 3GB.But you can use 500mb in a day. Limit of Last one is 100mb in a day.
For example to use 100mb, Skype can be used for 174 minutes, youtube can be watched for 45minutes. almost 5 years agoAnswered by Aki via WorldNomads.com
2015,now you can buy SIM card very easy.
It cost you $20~30 per 7~15days unlimited speed.
There are so many service plans.
at the airport, electric store, all over the Japan.
my recommend is to find your plan here
http://www.japansim.net/ over 4 years agoAnswered by Veronica via WorldNomads.com