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Japan SIM Cards: Your Must-Read Guide to Staying Connected in Japan

Plus, the 10 reasons why a Japan SIM Card is your best option!

If you're going to Japan & want to stay connected you'll need to make a decision: Japan SIM Cards, Wi-Fi routers, Roaming & Free Wi-Fi are all options to keep you connected in theory - but which option is best for you and do you really need a SIM Card for Japan? We've done the hard work for you with an ABC Guide on how to get connected in Japan, including some common misconceptions...

A. Free Wi-Fi is not a thing!

Japan has a reputation for being super-advanced but in some areas change has been slow. Surprisingly, free internet is almost impossible to find throughout Japan - even in Tokyo. Most Wi-Fi hotspots are not free & require you to register each use. The free ones aren't exactly free either as they're in cafes & restaurants - so you'll need to pay for food or drinks to connect. If you plan to be on the move rule this option out!

B. Renting a Wi-Fi Router may not make sense!

If you plan a very short stay and are happy to pay daily rental fees, then a Wi-Fi router may be your best option. Remember though that you'll have the hassle of keeping an extra device charged and returning your rental kit to the airport at the end of your trip. An easier and more economical alternative is to buy a data-only SIM. Unlimited Data SIMs are available from 8 to 31 days duration (see: www.mobal.com) giving you the option to use the SIM in your own device and dispose of it at the end of your trip. You can even use tethering too to connect other devices. Get your SIM delivered to you before you travel so that you can Instagram from the plane on touchdown - or pick-up from the airport when you arrive.

C. Roaming is tricky.

Most cellular providers offer roaming in Japan, but beware - just using your phone for even a short period can result in returning home to bill shock! Some providers such as T-Mobile USA appear to offer great deals with unlimited data in Japan for no extra charge. Note though that data speeds are heavily throttled so this may restrict how you use your phone.

The advice is when in Rome... Get a local Japan SIM and avail of high-speed data and cheap calls if needed. The Japan Unlimited SIM from Mobal gives you data, voice & text with a minimum of 7GB of 4G LTE data per month (larger plans available if needed). If you use more than your high speed data allowance, your data will slow down, but the amount you can use is unlimited - plus, you can buy more high speed data if you need it. You get to control how much data you use, so you'll never return home to bill shock and you'll never run out of data either.

10 Reasons Why a Japan SIM Card is your Best Option

Until recently buying a Japan SIM card for your smartphone was simply not an option for overseas visitors - unless you wanted to sign-up to a complicated 2-year contract with huge fees payable if you left Japan early.

Luckily you can now get a no-contract voice & data SIM as well as prepaid data SIMs - all with English customer service, free incoming calls & free domestic calls on the same network*.

Order online from Mobal and you can choose to have your Japan SIM Card delivered in advance or collect from main airports & cities in Japan on arrival.

If you're still not convinced here's 10 more reasons why you absolutely need a SIM Card for your phone when in Japan!

1. Google Maps

You won't go anywhere without Google Maps when you first arrive in Japan. At the bare minimum you need a data-only SIM. When using public transport in cities expect to change from subways to trains & and back again numerous times in any given day. Rather than figuring out complicated maps and routes, let Google do the hard work for you. Plus, with a Japan SIM in your phone, you can enjoy getting lost in Japan's busy streets and alleyways and Google will always help you to find your way home!

2. Phone Numbers Have Status

Japan is slow to change - think fax machines, single-glazed windows & CDs (yes, really!). If you plan to live in Japan a phone number is a must - you need one to get a job, rent an apartment, open a bank account, ship/receive a package - you basically need a phone number to do just about anything!

For visitors booking hotels and restaurants, a Japanese phone number can often be more acceptable than your credit card, so consider the advantages of a voice and data SIM over a data-only SIM.

3. Shopping Online?

Planning to avail of free delivery to your address when in Japan. Great deals are available from electronics stores such as Bic Camera or clothing outlets like Muji but guess what you need to avail of delivery? A Japanese phone number!

4. Uber/Japan Taxi

If you find yourself out at night (a spontaneous Karaoke night perhaps!) you'll quickly discover public transport isn't 24 hour. If you need an English-speaking driver Uber is useful and Uber taxis don't charge a late-night surcharge - great for getting back home from wherever you are.

5. Eating In is the New Eating Out

Want to order takeout to your room - all from the comfort of your phone? You definitely need a SIM and you may even need a phone number. We recommend you go for the Mayo-Jaga pizza (potato & baked mayonnaise on a tomato base)!

6. Google Translate

Whether it's deciphering zany pizza menus for home delivery or communicating with the locals you will definitely make use of this app. As it doesn't work on batteries we definitely recommend you get a SIM card ;-)

7. Social Media

Being in Japan means lots of photos. Lots of photos means lots of sharing online. Make sure your family and friends are as jealous as possible of your adventures in Japan by keeping them updated through social media! Plus, with average commute times in Japan over an hour you'll end up browsing or wanting to!

8. Music/Podcast/Shazam

Walking through the streets of Japan and hear a song that catches your ear? Don't worry about having to figure out the Japanese to type in lyrics to Google - just use Shazam to find out and discover many new Japanese songs!

9. 4G or LTE speeds

As long as you're on a Japanese network and not an MVNO SIM you'll get the same data speeds as Japanese people do. It's fast as you might expect. Mobal's Japan Unlimited SIM is the only voice & data SIM available to everyone that uses the Softbank network - if you want quality this gets our vote.

10. Emergencies

With extreme weather events & earthquakes a part of daily life having a voice SIM with SMS capability doesn't just mean your analog friends can keep in contact from overseas, it also means you'll receive early warning alerts & updates.

Finally, here are 10 reasons why you should choose Mobal...

  1. Mobal have been trusted by international travelers for over 30 years.
  2. You get always on data - Data is totally unlimited, so you'll never run out.
  3. You get a real Japanese phone number.
  4. There are options for short-term visitors and long-term residents - all with no contracts, so you use the SIM for as long as you like and cancel anytime.
  5. You get free incoming calls & incoming texts.
  6. You can call other Mobal/Softbank users completely free of charge 20 hours of the day from 1am to 9pm.
  7. You get free shipping to your home address - or free pick-up when you arrive in Japan.
  8. You get English speaking customer support.
  9. Your SIM comes with a 100% money back guarantee.
  10. BONUS - The majority of Mobal profits go to charity. Mobal profits provide a hot school meal for needy kids around the world - including an after-school feeding programme in Tokyo. So, with your Mobal SIM, you're not just traveling the world, you're making it a better place. To find out more click here.

Click here to buy a Japan SIM Card from Mobal today.

* Calls to other Mobal / Softbank users are free 20 hours of the day from 1am to 9pm. Calls made outside this time will be charged per minute.