Free wifi has basically become a given for cafes and other businesses in the US, but in Japan, it has yet to be become as widespread. Being able to use data in a foreign land can be super useful for navigation and for keeping in touch with others. Although most cellphone companies offer international plans, they can be quite expensive and aren’t worth it. So, are there other options available?
The Japan Travel SIM card is perfect for those visiting Japan short term. It is a special plan only available to visitors and comes in two varieties, 1 GB and 2GB. You won’t be able to call anyone because they are data only, but apps like Line, Skype, and Facebook are easy solutions to this problem.
How do you get one?
There are several retail locations that sell this SIM card including Bic Camera, Blue Sky, and Aeon. (See full list here: https://t.iijmio.jp/en/shop/index.html) Both my brother and I have gotten ours at Bic Camera in the past and it was super quick and easy! I believe Narita has a small Bic store in it so you don’t have to travel far to snag one.
To give you an idea of what the process is like, here is a short rundown:
- Find a retail location and buy the SIM card. You will probably be asked for your passport as proof that you are a visitor when buying the card. Please make sure to check that you have the right type of SIM card before finalizing your purchase. Depending on the model of your phone, you will need either a regular, nano, or micro SIM card. As a heads up, the store will most likely only be able to sell you the card and will refuse to install it for you. You will have to install the card yourself.
- Install the card. The package you purchased should include all of the instructions that you will need to install the card.Before installing I would advise that you prepare the following: a pin to push the hole to eject your current SIM card (for iPhone users), a safe place to store your SIM card while using the Japan Travel SIM, and a place that has Wifi. From what I recall it was necessary to have Wifi for set up, but I’m not sure. If you are at the airport, there should already by Wifi available. If not, McDonalds and Starbucks are a good place to look.
- After installing, you are good to go! You should be able to use the data right away!
During my stay in Japan two years ago I purchased the 2GB and found that it was plenty enough for my 5-6 week stay. I used Google Maps to get everywhere I needed to be and used Facebook and Line to contact my friends when meeting up with them. There were never any problems and the data was super quick and reliable. I would recommend using this to anyone planning to visit Japan!
If you are curious, you can get more information here: https://t.iijmio.jp/en/index.html#service_overview
*Photo comes from product website*