Traveling to Tokyo can be exciting but also overwhelming due to its size. Staying connected is crucial for navigating this massive city. Getting a local SIM card is important for using maps, translation apps, and more. This guide provides tips on the best SIM card in Tokyo from a local perspective, where to find and buy them, preparation advice, recommendations for saving money, and answers to common questions. A SIM card will help you stay connected during your trip to Tokyo.

How to Buy A SIM Card in Tokyo

I. Which mobile operator is the best in Tokyo?

When looking for a SIM card in Tokyo, you’ll find there are several major phone carriers and MVNO networks to choose from. Based on network coverage, reliability, speed, and price, here are top recommendations:

Feature NTT Docomo KDDI (au) SoftBank Rakuten Mobile
Market Share Largest High Medium Low
Coverage Widest Good (may be lower in rural areas) Good (may be lower in some areas) Developing
Speed Stable and consistent Good Excellent (5G video) Good, fast uploads
Price Higher Medium Medium Most affordable
Additional features Point program Bundled subscriptions, premium benefits Competitive data plans None

So in summary, IIJmio Japan, Sakura Mobile, and UQ Mobile are my top recommended Tokyo SIM card picks for their fast networks, good coverage across Tokyo and Japan, competitive pricing, and English support options aimed at travelers.

II. Best Tokyo SIM Card and cost

Once you’ve chosen your preferred Tokyo SIM card provider, next comes picking the right plan. These factors are worth considering when selecting one:

Docomo Network Price (USD) Data Validity
bMobile ~US$13 - $20 5GB - 7GB in LTE/3G 10 days - 21 days
eConnect Japan ~US$32 - $46 5GB - 10GB in 4G/LTE/3G 30 days
IlJmio ~US$13 - $20 1GB - 2GB in 4G/LTE 30 days - 3 months
Sakura Mobile ~US$33 Unlimited 8 days
~US$48 15 days
~US$67 30 days
~US$108 45 days
~US$119 60 days
~US$178 90 days

So in summary, IIJmio and Sakura Mobile offer convenient short-term packages adequate for most visitor’s daily app usage during a Tokyo trip without breaking the bank. Adjust the data amounts higher for extra heavy mobile usage.

III. Where to buy A SIM in Tokyo

If you’ve landed in Tokyo without a SIM card, don’t worry! Here are the best places to conveniently grab local Tokyo SIM cards:

1. Getting a SIM Card at Tokyo Airport

Both Narita and Haneda Airport have dedicated SIM card counters inside the arrival terminals operated by major Japanese providers. These SIMs provide instant connectivity the moment you land. The counters have English support to make the process smooth.

  • Haneda Airport: Convenience stores like Lawson and FamilyMart inside the international terminal sell SIM cards.
  • Narita Airport: Kiosks in both terminals sell SIM cards from operators like Docomo, au by KDDI, and SoftBank. Also sold at temporary shops near arrival gates.

If arriving late at night, the airport SIM counters may be closed temporarily but vending machines are still available as a backup option. So getting connected upon arrival in Tokyo is quick and easy.

2. Getting a Prepaid SIM Card in Tokyo

If you didn’t set up a SIM card at the Tokyo airport, you can also find them at electronics stores like Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, or Yamada Denki LABI.

  • Electronic retailers: Major electronics retailers like Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera offer a wide selection of prepaid SIM cards at competitive prices. They may also offer assistance with setting up the SIM card in your phone.
  • Convenience stores: Some convenience stores like 7-Eleven and FamilyMart also sell prepaid SIM cards, although the selection may be more limited compared to other options.
  • Mobile carrier stores: The major mobile carriers in Japan, such as NTT Docomo, SoftBank, and au, also sell prepaid SIM cards in their stores. However, these cards may require a Japanese residence card or a Japanese phone number to purchase.
  • Online retailers: You can also purchase prepaid SIM cards online from retailers like Amazon Japan or websites of the major mobile carriers. This is also a convenient option if you want to have the SIM card delivered to your hotel before you arrive in Japan.

So in summary, grabbing a visitor SIM card from stores across Tokyo or delivering it to your hotel room are easy options too besides the airport.

IV. eSIM card for Tokyo travelers – a smart alternative

Japan eSIM - Alternative for buying SIM card at Japan Airports
Japan eSIM – Alternative for buying SIM card at Japan

In recent years, eSIM cards have become a popular alternative to physical SIM cards for overseas travelers in Tokyo. Here are the key benefits they provide:

  • No SIM swap – Phones with eSIM support like newer iPhones and Android devices don’t require physically removing your usual SIM card. Everything is handled digitally.
  • Quick online setup – eSIMs allow instant activation by scanning a QR code provided in the order email or provider’s app. No lengthy registration steps are needed.
  • Flexibility – eSIM providers let you pause data packages or change plan length effortlessly on the fly based on your travel schedule.

Top recommended eSIM card providers for seamless connectivity across Tokyo include esimjapan.net offering pay-as-you-go eSIM service.

So in summary, eSIM cards provide easy and flexible mobile data options for tech-savvy travelers or those with compatible devices. Worth considering over physical SIMs.

Leave your physical SIM behind, travel light with a digital SIM from esimjapan.net!

V. Things to prepare when buying SIM cards in Tokyo

Getting a working SIM card in Tokyo is crucial but you’ll still need to prepare these items to get fully connected:

  • Unlocked device – Your smartphone must be unlocked to accept a foreign SIM card in Japan. Some US carriers like Verizon have unlock requirements.
  • SIM tool – You’ll need this small metal pin to physically insert or swap out SIM cards if not using eSIM service.
  • Passport – Buying a prepaid SIM card requires showing your passport for identity verification at shops or during airport pickup.
  • Cash/Credit Card – Having local currency or credit card on hand simplifies paying for your SIM card and data plan when purchasing in Japan.
  • Japan-compatible device – A small number of overseas phones don’t support Japan’s unique mobile bands for calls/texts/data so verify compatibility. Newer models are typically fine.

So those are the key items that travelers should sort out ahead to ensure smooth getting mobile data up and running using a Tokyo SIM card. Having connectivity without hassles is vital for an enjoyable trip when exploring this massive city.

VI. Tips and Recommendations

Beyond where to buy a SIM card in Tokyo, here are some additional useful tips:

  • Activate mobile data before leaving the airport – Test connectivity by loading a web page or using Google Maps to ensure your SIM works properly right away when you land. Staff can assist with troubleshooting on the spot if issues arise.
  • Conserve battery life – Tokyo offers tons of sightseeing where finding power outlets may be challenging. Reduce screen brightness, turn off Bluetooth/WiFi when unused, and close battery-draining apps to stretch out charge longer. Portable chargers also come in handy when exploring all day.
  • Download offline maps – Google Maps lets you download subway maps/routes for visibility even without a data signal. This helps avoid getting lost when venturing to areas with spotty coverage.
  • Utilize free public WiFi – Tokyo offers complimentary WiFi service at areas like subway stations and convenience stores. When available, use them to further conserve your prepaid data amounts.

So those tips will maximize both connectivity uptime and savings when using your Tokyo SIM card. Staying within data limits also avoids costly overages during travel.

VII. FAQs

Q: Can I use my local SIM card from home in Japan?

A: Most overseas SIM cards are blocked from roaming in Japan due to extremely high fees. So getting a local Tokyo SIM is recommended for affordability.

Q: Do prepaid SIM cards require registration?

A: Some Japanese SIM card providers aimed at travelers offer plans without any mandatory registration for quick convenience. However, others like residents’ plans may require submitting passport details during signup.

Q: Is there a sales tax when buying SIM cards in Japan?

A: Yes, Japan charges a standard 8% consumption tax rate on electronics like SIM cards and mobile plans when you are purchasing them locally. So the final cost may be slightly higher.

Q: Can I use mobile payment services like Apple Pay/Google Pay with a Japan SIM card?

A: Absolutely, services like Apple Pay and Google Pay work reliably with Tokyo SIM cards allowing easy tap-and-go payments across Japan using your foreign-issued cards registered to the apps.

VIII. Conclusion

We hope this detailed guide has given you all the important information needed for stress-free, affordable mobile connectivity using Tokyo SIM cards. Staying in touch is so crucial when visiting this immense city. Spend time planning where to obtain SIMs along with tips for maximizing performance. Then Tokyo’s amazing sights and experiences open up conveniently at your fingertips. Have an incredible trip!