Are you planning a trip to Japan and wondering how to stay connected while you’re there? Look no further than Rakuten Mobile, one of the leading mobile network providers in Japan. In this blog post, we will explore everything you need to know about Rakuten Mobile SIM cards and eSIM options for tourists. From coverage and speed to connectivity options and pricing, we’ll cover it all. So let’s dive in and discover how Rakuten Mobile can keep you connected during your visit to Japan.

rakuten mobile sim card

I. Quick facts about Rakuten Mobile

Before we delve into the details, let’s start with some quick facts about Rakuten Mobile:

  • Established: Rakuten Mobile was founded in 2019.
  • Brand name: The full company name is Rakuten Communications Corp., and it operates under the brand name “Rakuten Mobile.”
  • Meaning of the brand name: Rakuten translates to “optimism” in Japanese, reflecting the company’s commitment to providing innovative and reliable mobile services.
  • Service launch: Rakuten Mobile launched its services in 2020.
  • Services provided: Rakuten Mobile offers mobile voice and data services.
  • Number of subscribers: As of 2023, Rakuten Mobile has gained a significant number of subscribers in Japan and provides nationwide coverage.
  • Awards received: Rakuten Mobile has received several awards for its innovative approach and exceptional services.
  • Milestones: Rakuten Mobile has achieved several milestones since its inception, including the launch of 5G services and partnerships with global technology leaders.

Now that we have a brief overview of Rakuten Mobile let’s move on to discussing coverage and speed.

karuten mobile in japan

II. Japan Rakuten Mobile Coverage and Speed in Japan

When choosing a mobile network provider, coverage and speed are crucial factors to consider. Let’s take a closer look at Rakuten Mobile’s coverage and speed in Japan.

1. Rakuten Mobile Coverage in Japan

Japan Mobile Operators Coverage
Japan Mobile Operators Coverage

Here is an analysis of Rakuten Mobile’s coverage based on Opensignal’s October 2023 Japan Mobile Network Experience Report:

  • For Coverage Experience, Rakuten ranks third with a score of 90.0 points out of 100. NTT Docomo leads with 94.6 points, followed by SoftBank at 91.7 points.
  • Similarly for 5G Coverage Experience, Rakuten comes third with a score of 72.3 points. NTT Docomo is first at 83.6 points and SoftBank second at 77.7 points.
  • Rakuten’s lower scores in coverage metrics can be attributed to the fact that it is a relatively new operator, having only launched commercial services in April 2020. It is still building out its network coverage compared to the more established players.
  • However, Rakuten has been making strong progress in expanding coverage. The company covers over 90% of Japan’s major cities and plans to reach 98% population coverage by the end of 2023.
  • The report shows Rakuten users experience solid network availability of 98.4% in specific locations like Kanto and Kinki regions. This suggests good coverage within its service areas.

In summary, while Rakuten trails the top two operators in national coverage metrics, it has been rapidly expanding its 4G and 5G networks since launch. Coverage is strong within key population centers and continues to grow, showing Rakuten’s commitment to investing in network rollout.

2. Rakuten Mobile Speed

Japan Mobile Operators Speed
Japan Mobile Operators Speed

Here is an analysis of Rakuten Mobile’s speeds based on Opensignal’s October 2023 Japan Mobile Network Experience Report:

  • Upload Speed Experience: Rakuten Mobile continues to dominate in upload speeds, retaining the outright Upload Speed Experience award. Its average upload speed score of 18.7Mbps is more than double the runner-up SoftBank’s score.
  • 5G Upload Speed: Rakuten Mobile also wins 5G Upload Speed outright, with a score of 30.4Mbps. This is 55.4% faster than SoftBank in second place and more than twice as fast as third-placed au.
  • Download Speed Experience: While Rakuten does not win any download speed awards outright, it shows steady improvement. Its average download speed score of 38.4Mbps is an increase of 4.7Mbps from the previous report.
  • 5G Download Speed: Rakuten Mobile shares the 5G Download Speed award joint with NTT docomo, with both operators scoring in the 177.4-180.9Mbps range.

In summary, Rakuten Mobile leads the market for upload speeds on both overall and 5G networks. Its download speeds are rising steadily as well, now matching NTT Docomo for 5G and reducing the gap to other competitors. Rakuten has established itself as the network with the best speeds for uploading content and real-time communications.

III. Rakuten Mobile Connectivity Options for Travelers to Japan

As a tourist visiting Japan, you have multiple options for connecting to Rakuten Mobile’s network. Let’s explore these options in detail:

Connectivity Option Pros Cons
SIM card
  • Local rates
  • Convenience
  • No additional device required
  • Need to change SIM cards
  • Limited phone number availability
  • Difficulty in obtaining a SIM card for locked devices
  • Multiple device connectivity
  • Can be shared among group travelers
  • No need to switch SIM cards
  • Need to carry an additional device
  • Battery life limitations
Seamless connectivity with existing mobile plan Potentially higher costs

Overall, a prepaid Japan SIM card is the most budget-friendly and convenient option for travelers’ connectivity needs in the country.

IV. Best Rakuten SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

Rakuten Mobile offers various SIM card options specifically designed for tourists. These SIM cards come with different plans, prices, and benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the best Rakuten SIM cards available for tourists:

Plan Data Allotment Approx. Monthly Cost (USD)
Starter Plan 1GB $12
Standard Plan 3GB $18
Generous Plan 8GB $24
Power Plan Unlimited $30

Please note that these are just examples, and the actual plans and pricing may vary. To get accurate and up-to-date information, it's recommended to visit Rakuten Mobile's official website.

V. Does Rakuten Mobile Japan support eSIM?

Yes, Rakuten Mobile Japan does support eSIM technology.

eSIM provides several advantages over physical SIM cards, such as the ability to switch between different mobile network providers without changing physical cards and the convenience of purchasing and activating eSIMs online.

VI. Where Can You Buy a Rakuten SIM Card and eSIM?

When it comes to purchasing a Rakuten Mobile SIM card or eSIM in Japan, you have several options. Let’s explore the options below:

1. Where to Buy Rakuten SIM Cards for Japan

Upon Arrival

If you prefer to buy a physical SIM card upon your arrival at an airport in Japan, you can visit the designated counters or shops offering SIM cards. These counters are usually located in the arrival area, making it convenient for travelers to purchase a SIM card immediately.

Rakuten Mobile Store

Rakuten Mobile has its own stores across Japan where you can purchase SIM cards directly. These stores provide assistance and guidance, ensuring you get the right plan and package for your needs.

Rakuten Mobile Store
Rakuten Mobile Store

Other Authorized Retail Stores

Besides Rakuten Mobile stores, several authorized retail stores throughout Japan offer Rakuten Mobile SIM cards. These stores may include electronics retailers, convenience stores, or mobile phone accessory shops. It’s recommended to check the official Rakuten Mobile website for a list of authorized retail stores near your location.

2. Where to Buy Rakuten Mobile eSIM

If you’re interested in purchasing a Rakuten Mobile eSIM, there are online platforms where you can buy them. online providers that specialize in eSIMs. These platforms typically offer easy purchase and activation processes, making it convenient for travelers.

Now that you know where to buy a Rakuten Mobile SIM card or eSIM, let’s move on to activating them.

VII. How to Activate Rakuten SIM Card/eSIM

Activating a Rakuten Mobile SIM or eSIM is a straightforward process. Whether you have a physical SIM card or an eSIM, Rakuten Mobile provides clear instructions to activate and start using their services. Let’s explore the activation processes for both options:

1. How to Use Rakuten Mobile SIM Card

To use a Rakuten Mobile Japan SIM card, follow these simple steps:

  1. Insert the SIM card: Locate the SIM card slot on your device and insert the Rakuten Mobile SIM card.
  2. Power on your device: Turn on your device and wait for it to recognize the SIM card.
  3. Activate the SIM card: In most cases, Rakuten Mobile SIM cards are pre-activated. If not, follow the provided instructions to activate the SIM card.
  4. Set up APN settings if necessary: If you can’t connect to the internet after inserting the SIM card, you may need to set up the Access Point Names (APN) manually. Check Rakuten Mobile’s website or contact their customer support for the correct APN settings.
  5. Check your services: Once the SIM card is activated and APN settings are configured, you should be able to enjoy Rakuten Mobile’s voice and data services.

2. How to Activate Rakuten Mobile Japan eSIM

If you’re using a Rakuten Mobile eSIM, the activation process may differ slightly depending on your device. Here’s a general guide on how to activate a Rakuten Mobile eSIM:

  1. Install the eSIM: Follow the device-specific instructions to install the Rakuten Mobile eSIM on your compatible device.
  2. Activate the eSIM: Rakuten Mobile provides activation instructions specific to different device models. Visit their website or refer to your device’s user manual for detailed instructions.
  3. Set up the eSIM: Once activated, you may need to configure additional settings such as APN or network preferences. Consult Rakuten Mobile’s website or customer support for guidance on these settings.
  4. Start using the eSIM: Once the eSIM is activated and set up, you can start enjoying Rakuten Mobile’s services without the need for a physical SIM card.

Remember to consult the official Rakuten Mobile website or contact their customer support for the most accurate and up-to-date activation instructions based on your device model.

VIII. Japan Rakuten Mobile Call & SMS Rates

Understanding call and SMS rates is essential for managing your expenses while using Rakuten Mobile in Japan. Let’s explore the call and SMS rates offered by Rakuten Mobile:

Call/SMS Type Rate (JPY) Rate (approx. USD)
Calls to Rakuten Mobile Free Free
Calls to Other Networks (Standard/Generous plan) ¥10/min $0.08/min
Calls to Other Networks (Power plan) ¥0/min Free
International Calls $0.35-0.50/min $0.35-0.50/min
SMS to Domestic (Standard/Generous plan) ¥1/message $0.008/message
SMS to Domestic (Power plan) ¥0/message Free
SMS to International ¥5/message $0.04/message

Call and SMS rates mentioned are for reference only and may vary by plan. Check Rakuten Mobile’s website for accurate and up-to-date rates. In addition, it’s good to know useful USSD codes to access services on their network.

IX. Useful USSD Codes for Rakuten SIM/eSIM

USSD codes are short codes that allow users to access specific services or obtain information from their mobile network provider. Here are some useful USSD codes for Rakuten SIM Card and eSIMs:

USSD Code Description
*131# Check Balance/Data Usage
111amount# Top Up Account (e.g. 1111000#)
1141# Change Payment Method
1211# Check/Update Profile
1212# Change Password
1213# Change or Cancel Plan
1214# PIN Unlock
*119 Emergency Number (Police/Fire/Ambulance)

These USSD codes can help you check your data balance, account balance, and perform other essential functions. Be sure to consult Rakuten Mobile’s official website for the most updated list of USSD codes and their respective uses.

X. How to Top-Up Rakuten SIM Card/eSIM

To make sure you can continue using your Rakuten SIM card or eSIM without interruption, it’s important to know how to top it up when needed. Here’s how you can top up your Rakuten SIM card or eSIM:

Here are the options to top-up your Rakuten SIM Card/eSIM while in Japan:

  • Online via Rakuten website: Login to your account, select the amount, and pay with a credit/debit card. Instant top-up.
  • Convenience Store Payment: Use the barcode or QR code on your Rakuten account page at 7-Eleven, Lawson, or FamilyMart to pay by cash or card.
  • USSD Code: Dial *111*amount# from your Rakuten number. For example, *111*1000# to add ¥1000 credit.

Top-up amounts start from ¥500 and credit never expires. Status via *131#. International top-ups may require address verification. Topping up credit keeps Rakuten SIM activated.

XI. Alternative to Japan Rakuten SIM Cards

Below are some alternative options to Rakuten SIM cards for getting a data plan in Japan:

  • B-Mobile – B-Mobile is one of the largest MVNO carriers in Japan. They offer prepaid SIM cards with data-only plans starting at around 500 yen for 1GB. Can purchase online or at convenience stores.
  • IIJmio – IIJmio is a subsidiary of NTT Docomo and has nationwide coverage. Data-only prepaid SIM cards cost around 2000 yen for 5GB. Can buy online or in stores.
  • Japan eSIM – offers an eSIM data plan that can be activated on arrival. Plans start at US$5 for 3 days. No physical SIM needed.

Compare prices and coverage details to pick the best-prepaid data option for your needs and Japan itinerary. All the above providers have English support.

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XII. FAQs about Rakuten Mobile in Japan

What networks does Rakuten Mobile use?

Rakuten Mobile currently leases network infrastructure from NTT Docomo. This provides nationwide 4G LTE coverage. Rakuten is also building its own 5G network.

Do I need to sign a contract?

No, Rakuten Mobile uses a no-contract prepaid SIM model which offers more flexibility than postpaid contracts.

What payment methods do they accept?

You can pay via credit/debit cards as well as convenience store counters like Seven Eleven or Lawson.

XIII. Final Words

Before making a decision, consider factors such as your travel duration, destination, device compatibility, and specific data needs. Rakuten Mobile’s range of SIM cards and eSIMs cater to different requirements, ensuring you can find the perfect solution for staying connected.

We hope this comprehensive guide has provided valuable insights into Rakuten Mobile SIM cards and eSIM options for tourists in Japan. Happy travels and stay connected with Rakuten Mobile!