Japan has a very fast and reliable cellphone network for accessing the internet. There are many options for tourists to have mobile internet in Japan while visiting. With so many choices, it can be hard to pick the best one. This article gives details on cellphone internet in Japan. It talks about what internet is available where, speeds, prices, top companies, and other things to think about when picking which mobile internet to use during your trip.

The Mobile Internet in Japan

I. Mobile Internet Coverage and Speed in Japan

Ranked among the top globally for both coverage and connectivity speed, Japan’s major carriers have invested heavily to deliver fast, reliable mobile internet in Japan to residents and visitors.

1. Japan Mobile Internet Coverage

While Japanese users generally enjoy strong signal availability, operators are still working to eliminate gaps in mobile service, especially in more remote regions. Satellite connectivity presents a potential solution to fill in these coverage gaps. Here is an analysis of the coverage of each major mobile operator in Japan based on the Opensignal report on October 2023:

Japan Mobile Operators Coverage
Japan Mobile Operators Coverage
  • NTT Docomo: Outstanding coverage – sole winner of Coverage Experience and 5G Coverage Experience awards. Highest availability at 99.3%
  • au: Excellent coverage – joint winner of Coverage Experience alongside NTT docomo and SoftBank. Strong 5G coverage in joint second place.
  • SoftBank: Also joint winner of top Coverage Experience award. Joint second best for 5G coverage and second highest availability.
  • Rakuten Mobile: Very good coverage but third place for both coverage awards. Lower availability of 95.7% indicates more coverage needed to match competitors.

In summary, all four major operators provide extensive nationwide coverage according to Opensignal, with NTT DoCoMo leading on the breadth of 5G while Rakuten Mobile continues expanding its coverage footprint.

2. Japan Mobile Internet Speed

Japan’s cellphone internet speeds tell an interesting tale. The country has some of the fastest mobile speeds worldwide, especially in big cities. But rural areas are often much slower. Let’s look at the details from Speedtest’s rankings:

Japan Median Country Speeds January 2024
Japan Median Country Speeds January 2024

National Ranking:

  • Overall: Japan ranks 55th worldwide for cellphone download speed. The average speed is 46.28 megabits per second. This puts Japan at the top level for mobile internet around the world.
  • Compared to nearby countries: Japan has faster speeds but slower than South Korea, China, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has incredibly fast speeds of 324.92 megabits per second – the fastest in the world.
Median Country Speeds January 2024
Median Country Speeds January 2024

City Rankings:

  • Osaka: Claiming the top spot in Japan with a median download speed of 55.88 Mbps. This puts it in 63rd globally, showcasing the technological prowess of this urban giant.
  • Tokyo: Following closely behind in rank 65th, Tokyo boasts a median speed of 51.40 Mbps, cementing its position as a major hub for high-speed mobile connectivity.
Median Japan City Speeds January 2024
Median Japan City Speeds January 2024

II. Mobile Internet in Japan: Connection Options for Tourists

tourists have several options for mobile internet access, such as pocket WiFi, public WiFi, roaming, SIMs, and eSIM. The comparison table below provides an at-a-glance look to identify the best internet solution for your needs and destination.

Option Price Range (USD) Pros Cons
Free Wi-Fi Free Budget-friendly, widely available in major cities and tourist areas. Unreliable connection speeds, limited coverage, security risks.
Pocket Wi-Fi US$6 - US$18 per day Strong and stable connection, shareable with multiple devices, convenient. Expensive, need to carry another device, battery life limitations.
eSIM US$8 - US$22 for 7 days US$9 - US$45 for 15 days US$10 - US$88 for 30 days Easy to set up, convenient, keeps your original SIM active. Not all phones support eSIM
SIM Card $17 - $58 for 7 days Affordable, use your own phone, various data packages available. May need to switch SIM cards, not all phones compatible with Japanese SIMs.
Roaming Varies by plan No need for additional hardware or setup. Convenient for short trips or infrequent use Can be very expensive, especially for data. May have speed restrictions or limited coverage

Our recommendation: If traveling to Japan, use a local SIM for internet access, privacy, and affordable calls/texts. For supported devices, an eSIM is best due to no roaming fees, convenience, flexibility, continuous connectivity, easy setup, and future-proofing against technological changes.

III. Mobile Internet Rates in Japan

The cost of 1GB of data in Japan is usually around $3 US dollars. This price can be different depending on the company and the plan.

  • For prepaid SIM cards you only use for a short time, 1GB of data costs from about US$5 to $15. The more data you get, the cheaper each gigabyte is. But these prices can change from deals and different companies.
  • Long-term plans or contracts usually have a lower cost per GB. For these, 1GB costs around US$1 to $5. They give you more total data and a better price for each GB.

IV. Best Mobile Operators in Japan

After choosing the way for mobile internet in Japan, it’s time to talk about a list of Japanese mobile internet companies to compare options and make the best choice for your trip. Below is a comparison of the four main mobile carriers in Japan. Let’s take a look.

Mobile Operator Coverage Price Range for SIM Card Pros Cons
AU/KDDI Nationwide coverage $15-40 - Good network coverage throughout Japan- Wide range of plan options and add-ons - Relatively higher prices for plans and SIM cards
NTT Docomo Nationwide coverage $20-50 - Extensive coverage and high-quality network- Offers a variety of plans and optional services - Can be more expensive compared to other providers
Rakuten Nationwide coverage $10-30 - Competitive pricing and affordable plans- Flexibility to customize plans and select add-ons - Network coverage may not be as extensive as some other providers
Softbank Nationwide coverage $15-40 - Good network coverage and reliable service- Offers various plan options and discounts - Some users report slower data speeds in certain areas

Overall, AU/KDDI mobile operator is a great choice for tourists when visiting Japan, as it provides extensive coverage throughout Japan, including big cities and remote areas.

AU Mobile Operator supports eSIM technology, which means you can enjoy the convenience of a digital SIM card without the need for a physical card. If you want to use eSIM from AU operator, you should consider services from esimjapan.net, which offers many options to meet the tourists’ needs.

Japan’s calling, answer roaming free with esimjapan.net!


Does Japan have free public WiFi?

Limited public WiFi is available around train stations and tourist hotspots but lacks ubiquity and consistency. Speeds vary wildly and connections routinely time out, making reliance difficult. Free options work in a pinch but paid services deliver vastly better results.

Can I use GPS and Mapping data without mobile WiFi?

Downloaded offline Google Maps data and directions provides basic navigational aid without a live connection. But key functions like re-routing, traffic avoidance, and search require mobile data access not met through offline-only tools. Sightseeing efficiently greatly benefits from having local mobile signals.

How can I avoid expensive roaming charges from my cell provider?

Disable mobile data roaming entirely rather than just enabling Airplane mode. Under your phone Settings > Cellular/Mobile Network, turn off data roaming which prevents accidental background syncing that incurs high fees. Only connect via WiFi when abroad or use local SIM/rentals instead.

VI. Conclusions

Japan presents visitors with many viable options to stay conveniently connected and tap into its blazing-fast mobile networks – critical for maximizing your experience abroad. Savvy travelers avoid pricey international roaming plans in favor of more affordable pocket WiFi rentals or local SIM cards. Compare rates across top recommended providers here and choose the best mobile internet options in Japan based on your trip details. With the right mobile data plan, you can spend more time enjoying iconic sites and less worrying about internet access.