Before you head off to Japan make sure that you know who your Network providers roaming partner is in Japan. There is a good chance that your mobile phone will work in Japan, although you may not like the exorbitant usage charges for the voice and data.

When arriving at the airport make sure your phone is in airplane mode, as you may incur usage charges immediately after connecting to the network. Because of agreements with international carriers, text messages may make it through, which you will be charged for.  The airports are full of phone rental places,  although they are expensive and may not offer what you want.

Acquiring Data and Minutes

The process is quite painful, as you cannot acquire a SIM card with pre-paid data and minutes on it, since Japan law does not allow for pre-paid SIM cards with minutes on them.  Most of the rental places in the airport will only offer one of the following: an iPhone with minutes and data (the insurance to protect the phone is expensive, and you have to set it up with your contacts, apps...), data only SIM card (with a throttle after 100mb per day, or a 7 day plan) or a hotspot (with a throttle after 100mb per day...).  All three options are quite high in price, therefore may want to head to an electronics store, such as Yodobashi Camera.  Note that SIM card vending machines exist in hidden locations at some (maybe all) of the airports, though you may need to inquire to find them.

At the electronics store, for So-net and IIJ data-only SIM cards the prices are as follows (currently for the DOCOMO network): 1GB for 3000 yen, 2GB for 4000 yen and 3GB for 5000 yen.  Note that the major cell network providers do not sell them directly to customers.

To obtain phone service, setup a Skype account, and obtain a local phone number if you intend on having locals (Japan natives) call you.  Skype asks the purchaser to sign (a checkbox) that they are a local resident, but it does not appear that this is verified.

Locations to Purchase Service

Electronic Stores (Best Place):

  1. Yodobashi Camera Co
  4.  Kojima Co., Ltd
  6.  Sofmap Co

Airport Locations:

So-net Vending Machines and Electronic Stores

Airport Vending Machines

So-net is a pre-paid data only service run by Sony.  The cards come loaded with 1gb (3000 yen), 2gb (4000 yen) or 3gb (5000 yen) of data on the DOCOMO network.

SoftBank Rental

Narita, Haneda, Kansai(Osaka), Chubu(Nagoya)

SoftBank is the offical carrier of iPhone in Japan. If you have iPhone, they are very helpful . About their rental service, they have many kinds of products(handset, sim card and WiFi router) but they are very expensive. They also sell the prepaid phone.

Telecom Square

Narita, Haneda, Kansai(Osaka), Chubu(Nagoya)

Telecom Square is the largest mobile rental company in Japan. But their strong point is outbound(from Japan to abroad) so the rental service for foreigners is poor. They have many counters in the airports.


Narita, Haneda, Kansai(Osaka), Chubu(Nagoya)

JAL ABC is mainly airport baggage delivery service company. They have handset and WiFi router rental service.



They have handset and sim card rental service at Narita airport.


Global Advanced Communications

They have many rental products(handset, smartphone, SIM card, USB data card and WiFI router). The rate is cheaper than the airport companies. 

eConnect Japan

eConnect Japan sells the prepaid data sim card and rent the wifi router. The prepaid data sim card is 4,100 yen (1GB within 30 days). They have some kinds of different speed WiFi router so you can choose the rental product according to your budget.  You can order it to be delivered to your hotel on arrival. The SIM card works in an iPhone and you then use an app to make free calls.

Sally's Rental

Sally's Rental have 2 kinds of data only sim card rental service. One is Slow Speed(100kbps), the other is 1GB limited data sim card rental. The slow speed SIM is the cheapest rental service(1 week : 3,255 yen) in Japan.

Japan Mobile Rental

Japan Mobile Rental offers mobile wifi routers for use in Japan. You book online from 1,000 yen per day, and can pick up at the airport on arrival or have delivered to your hotel. The service is all in English and it is a low cost way to stay connected in Japan. You can then use Skype or another VoIP service to make phone calls.

Asahi Net LTE

A data-only SIM card rental service. The 2 Giga Plan (150Mbps speed, up to 2GB data/month) is 900 yen/month. The 128K Plan (128kbps speed, unlimited data) is 748 yen/month. Application and customer support is available in English.  Use Skype or other voice over Internet services to make phone calls.

Sakura Mobile

Mobile wifi router and Data-only SIM card rental service. They offer DoCoMo unlimited LTE data service (Max 150 Mbps). They offer most variety of plans. Docomo has the best coverage area in Japan. English customer support is available. Use Skype or other VoIP services to make phone call. 

CDJapan Rental 

Data-only SIM card, mobile wi-fi, and mobile battery rental service by CDJapan. The package for SIM card starts from 5 days up to  6 months, the wi-fi device from 7 days to 90 days. English customer service by email is available.  

Japan Wifi Buddy

JapanWifiBuddy offer a few plans for rental wifi routers for the lowest prices, using Docomo's network which appears to be the best for coverage in Japan. Also provide responsive and friendly service, with shipping to the airport, hotel or other lodging like AirBNB.