As a tourist, mobile data is extremely useful for maps, translations, recommendations, and more. A Docomo eSIM or Docomo SIM card provides affordable connectivity throughout your trip. Here you get every detail of Docomo including cost, coverage, activation, top-up method, and all. Read on to choose the best connectivity option for your travel needs in Japan.

ntt docomo sim card

I. Quick Facts about NTT Docomo

Docomo started up in 1991 and their full name is NTT Docomo – they’re one of the biggest mobile service providers in Japan.

  • Name: NTT Docomo, Inc. (abbreviation of “do communications over the mobile network”)
  • Founding: 1991 (spun off from NTT)
  • Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
  • Parent company: Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT)
  • Industry: Mobile phone operator
  • Customers: Over 80 million subscribers in Japan
  • Mobile phone: 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G networks
  • Home internet: Fiber optic and 5G home router
  • Home phone: Mobile network-based phone service
  • Other services: Cloud storage, security, entertainment content
  • Technology: Pioneer in mobile technologies like W-CDMA and i-mode. Actively developing 5G and 6G technologies
Docomo mobile service in Japan
Docomo Mobile Service in Japan

II. NTT Docomo Speed and Coverage in Japan

With Docomo being Japan’s largest wireless carrier, they spend quite a lot of money on infrastructure for country-wide 4G accessibility and user satisfaction. Here is an overview of their coverage map and average data speeds across different areas of Japan.

1. NTT Docomo Coverage in Japan

Japan Mobile Operators Coverage
Japan Mobile Operators Coverage

Here is an analysis of NTT Docomo’s coverage based on Opensignal’s October 2023 Japan Mobile Network Experience report:

  • Coverage Experience: Docomo wins the Coverage Experience award outright with a score of 9.1/10. This means Opensignal users on Docomo’s network experienced excellent indoor and outdoor coverage across Japan.
  • 5G Coverage: Docomo also wins 5G Coverage Experience alone, scoring 3.4/10. This indicates that when within a 5G coverage area, users could reliably remain connected to Docomo’s 5G network.
  • Availability: Docomo places first for overall Availability at 99.7%. This measures the percentage of time users were able to access any available mobile network technology.
  • 5G Availability: Docomo places third for 5G Availability at 6.4%, demonstrating room for expansion of its 5G network coverage footprint relative to leaders SoftBank and au.

Overall, the data shows that NTT Docomo offers industry-leading nationwide coverage across Japan for both overall and 5G networks. However, its 5G network is still expanding relative to competitors. Docomo’s network can be relied on to deliver connectivity across wide areas of the country according to Opensignal users.

2. Docomo Network Speed

Japan Mobile Operators Speed
Japan Mobile Carriers Speed

Here is an analysis of NTT Docomo’s speeds based on the October 2023 report from Opensignal:

  • Download Speed Experience: Docomo shares the Download Speed Experience award with au at 44.8 Mbps, down 8 Mbps from its previous outright win.
  • Regional Download Speeds: Docomo wins the Download Speed Experience award outright in two regions – Chubu and Shikoku. In Shikoku specifically, Opensignal users on Docomo’s network enjoyed the fastest average regional download speeds at 52.3 Mbps.
  • 5G Speed: For 5G Download Speed, Docomo ties with Rakuten Mobile for first place, with scores of 177.4-180.9 Mbps. This represents a drop of around 26.6 Mbps compared to Docomo’s previous outright win.
  • Upload Speed Experience: For overall upload speeds, Docomo comes third, with a score of 6.9 per Mbps. This is a decrease of around 1 Mbps from the previous report. It trails the clear winner Rakuten Mobile substantially.

In summary, while NTT Docomo remains highly competitive for speeds in Japan, the latest report shows some declines across key metrics like overall download speeds compared to previous periods. It also lags the frontrunner Rakuten Mobile considerably for upload speeds. Docomo maintains leadership in certain regions however and jointly tops 5G download speeds.

III. NTT Docomo connectivity options for travelers coming to Japan

Here are some options for travelers to Japan through NTT Docomo:

Option Description Pros Cons
Prepaid SIM Physical SIM card with data and sometimes voice calls. Available upon arrival at airports, convenience stores, online. Widely available. Affordable options. Easy to use Requires compatible phone. Need to collect/return SIM. May not include voice calls
eSIM Virtual SIM embedded in your phone. Purchase online and activate remotely. Convenient and easy setup. No need to have physical SIM. Multiple eSIMs possible Limited availability of Docomo eSIMs. Requires compatible phone. May not work with all operators
Roaming Use your home operator's network in Japan. Additional SIM/eSIM not required. Familiar interface Expensive data charges. Limited coverage compared to Docomo network. May require manual network selection
Pocket WiFi Portable Wi-Fi device sharing data with multiple devices. Rent or purchase online or in Japan. Connects multiple devices. Convenient for groups. Some offer unlimited data Requires carrying and charging an extra device. May have data limits or speed throttling. Higher upfront cost than prepaid SIM

Additional Notes:

  • NTT Docomo offers its own "Japan Welcome SIM" and "Japan Welcome SIM & Wi-Fi" specifically for travelers, with various plans and durations.
  • Consider your expected data usage, travel length, budget, and phone compatibility when choosing an option.
  • Check with your home carrier for specific roaming charges and limitations.

IV. Best Docomo SIM Card for Tourists and Cost

While NTT Docomo does not offer prepaid SIMs directly, several carriers operate on its network, providing tourist data-only SIM options like Sakura Mobile, bMobile, IlJmio, and eConnect Japan.

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

These prepaid NTT Docomo MVNO SIM cards provide affordable short-term 4G LTE connectivity in Japan, though usage is limited to the purchase country and period. Retail prices may vary slightly between vendors.

V. Does Japan NTT Docomo support SIM?

Yes, Docomo started allowing eSIMs in 2020 for some iPhones and Android phones that support them. An eSIM lets you set up a cell phone plan in a digital way without putting in a plastic SIM card.

  • bMobile offers an eSIM package made just for visitors to Japan. It has the same price as the prepaid SIM cards mentioned above.
  • Sakura Mobile provides eSIMs for tourists coming to Japan. Their eSIM plans are identical to their prepaid SIM card plans.

eSIM is more convenient since you don’t need to bring a SIM card to Japan or visit a store to swap cards. You can purchase and activate an eSIM from NTT Docomo entirely online before your trip begins.

VI. Where To Buy a Docomo SIM Cards and eSIM?

There are several options available for purchasing a Docomo SIM card or eSIM if you need mobile data during a visit to Japan.

1. Where to Buy Docomo SIM card for Japan

You can buy Docomo prepaid voice & data SIM cards at the following locations across Japan:

  • Airport: Docomo stores at the arrival areas of both Narita Airport and Haneda Airport sell their tourist SIM cards.
  • BIC Camera / Yodobashi Camera Stores: Two leading electronic retail chains that offer Docomo SIM cards at outlets across Japan.
  • Docomo Shops: Official Docomo postpaid and prepaid SIM cards available at their stores in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and other major tourist cities.
  • Don Quijote Stores: Shopping chain with over 160 stores across Japan selling Docomo prepaid SIMs.
  • Online: Rakuten Global Market, Amazon Japan, Japan Experience, and other websites ship Docomo visitor SIM cards worldwide.

Note: If you need to change the physical size of your SIM card during your trip, most providers will charge a handling fee for the alteration. The exact fee varies between carriers, so it's important to check individual policies.

2. Where to Buy Japan Docomo eSIM

Several options exist for acquiring an NTT Docomo Japan eSIM, including:

  • Official Website: Visit the bMobile website or Sakura Mobile website where you can purchase an eSIM for the NTT Docomo network.
  • eSIM Provider: Purchase from an online eSIM retailer like They offer various data plans and can email you the eSIM for activation right from your phone.

Recommended Approach: For convenience, use an eSIM from an eSIM provider. They allow you to quickly purchase no need for proof and activate the eSIM online just before your trip to Japan. This ensures you have cellular data set up right when you land.

VII. How to Activate NTT Docomo Japan eSIM/SIM

Whether you purchased a physical SIM or eSIM plan from NTT Docomo, below are the activation instructions you’ll need to get connected while visiting Japan.

1. How to Use NTT Docomo Japan SIM Card

Activating your Docomo SIM is simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Insert SIM. Remove your phone’s SIM slot and insert the NTT Docomo SIM card.
  • Power your device. Allow it to detect the new Docomo SIM.
  • Complete the SIM activation by following any on-screen instructions or using the provided activation method.
  • Configure APN settings. Head to your phone’s mobile network settings and configure the APN (access point name) using the details provided with your SIM kit.
  • Test connectivity. Make a test call or use some data to verify your services have been properly set up.

Following activation, credit and data can be added effortlessly through the NTT Docomo site or app anytime. Everything functions smoothly.

2. How to Activate Japan NTT Docomo eSIM

Follow these simple steps to get started with your Docomo eSIM:

  • Download and install the eSIM profile from the provided QR code or link.
  • Open the eSIM activation menu on your device and follow the prompts.
  • Configure Network Settings. Go to your cellular network settings and select the NTT Docomo eSIM.
  • Test Connectivity. Send a test message, make a call, or browse online to verify your connection.

Once activated, you can immediately begin using services like messaging, calls, and data on NTT Docomo’s cellular network. The eSIM activation workflow is swift and straightforward, allowing you to get connected to the local network even before you arrive in Japan. You’ll be all set up and ready to go for your trip at your convenience from anywhere.

Activation instructions for common devices:

  • iPhones: Go to Settings > Cellular Data > Add Cellular Plan
  • Samsung: Go to Connections > SIM Card Manager > Add Embedded SIM Profile
  • Google Pixels: Go to Settings > Network & internet > SIM cards > Add an eSIM

VIII. Japan NTT Docomo Call and SMS Rates

While MVNOs provide flexible short-term options, you may still want a traditional long-term contract if visiting Japan for an extended period. Once activated, your Docomo SIM Card lets you make calls and send texts in Japan at the following rates:

Service Cost Cost in US$
Domestic Call Fee 22 JPY per 30 seconds 0.2953 US$/min
Receiving Calls Free Free
Domestic SMS Fee From 3.3 JPY per message 0.022 US$
International Call Fee (From Japan to overseas) From 31 JPY per 30 seconds 0.4154 US$/min
International SMS Fee Between 50 to 500 JPY per message 0.34 to 3.4 US$

Note: SMS is limited to 160 characters per message in Japanese (70 characters in English).

IX. How to Top-up Docomo SIM Card/eSIM

Topping up your prepaid SIM card for more data is easy once you know the basic process, which can differ a bit depending on your Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) on the Docomo network in Japan.

  • Online Portal: Most MVNOs offer an online portal where you can log in and purchase additional data. You’ll need a Japanese credit card or bank account linked to complete the transaction.
  • Convenience Store Cards: Top-up data cards are widely available at convenience stores across Japan. Simply purchase a card with the desired amount, then enter the card’s code on your MVNO’s website or app.
  • Automated Phone Service: Some MVNOs provide an automated phone service for topping up data. You would call a dedicated number and follow the voice prompts to add funds over the phone.

Check your carrier’s website or contact support for the exact top up process, as steps may vary. Prepaid SIMs often have data limits per purchase and expiration dates. Top up only the estimated amount needed to avoid waste.

X. Alternatives to NTT Docomo in Japan

1. SIM Cards by Other MVNOs:

Operator Plan Name Data Allowance Validity Period Price (JPY) Price (USD)
Bmobile Data SIM 1GB 30 days 1,980 $14.58
Data SIM 3GB 30 days 2,970 $22.02
COMST Data SIM 1.5GB 30 days 2,420 $18.01
Data SIM 10GB 30 days 8,800 $65.63
GTN Mobile Data SIM 1GB 30 days 5,000 $37.25
Data SIM 5GB 30 days 10,000 $74.25
IIJmio Travel SIM 1GB 30 days 1,990 $14.79
Travel SIM 2GB 30 days 3,020 $22.48
Mobal Data SIM 1GB 30 days 3,990 $29.66
Data SIM 10GB 30 days 16,500 $123.26
Nippon SIM Data SIM 1GB 30 days 1,780 $13.23
Data SIM 2GB 30 days 1,980 $14.79
Sakura Mobile Data SIM 1GB 30 days 4,950 $36.90
Data SIM 10GB 30 days 26,400 $197.01
Wi-Ho! Data SIM 1GB 30 days 4,980 $36.93
Data SIM 5GB 30 days 5,980 $44.37


Japan eSIM

Planning a trip to Japan and want to avoid the hassle of swapping SIM or expensive roaming fees? Look no further than With eSIMs, you can access a Japanese network directly on your phone without needing a SIM.

Unlike physical SIM, eSIM is a 100% digital process. After you have purchased your eSIM, you’ll get an email containing a QR code that you can scan using your phone’s camera. Then, the eSIM will automatically provision in your device.

Thorough installation instructions are available in various languages to guarantee a seamless setup process for the eSIM on all compatible devices. Additionally, customer service can be accessed around the clock through live chat, email, or WhatsApp if any problems arise during activation.

You won’t need to wait in line to register for a SIM slot – just open the email and you’re connected!

Don't data diet, feast with!

XI. FAQs about Docomo

Are Docomo SIM cards able to connect in rural or less populated areas of Japan?

With over 99% population coverage, Docomo has excellent rural coverage across Japan’s countryside and remote islands. You can stay confidently connected even off the beaten path.

Can I use Docomo SIM in my locked phone?

If your phone is locked to a specific carrier, it will not work with a SIM card from a different carrier. This means if your phone is locked and you try to use a Docomo SIM card, it will not work unless the phone is locked to Docomo.

Do I need to register Docomo SIM card with my ID?

Yes, when registering a Docomo SIM card, you are required to provide a document verifying your identity. This could be a driver’s license, student ID card, or other forms of identification

Can I make international calls with Docomo SIM card?

Yes, you can place international calls with Docomo prepaid SIM cards at rates starting from 100 yen/minute. Easier to use VoIP apps for cheap calling.

XII. Final Words

We hope this detailed guide has provided you with all the necessary information to make the right decision for your connectivity needs in Japan. Docomo SIM cards offer reliable coverage, speeds, and good prepaid plans for travelers exploring Japan. Buy the Docomo prepaid plan that best matches your data usage, trip duration, and budget needs for smooth connectivity throughout your visit. Enjoy your travels in Japan!