Visitors are increasing every year in Japan, as Tokyo Olympic will be held in 2020 in Tokyo.
This article is for such foreign national people who will travel to Japan and also who lives now or will live in Japan in the future.
I realized that there are only a few articles that gives you a basic idea what low-priced SIM is and which one is recommended for a foreign national, and that no English page is available at most web sites of Japanese low-priced SIM venders.
I hope you can get a basic knowledge here and how to apply those local SIM services in my site (to be posted).
What is Low-priced SIM?
“SIM” is a card that is necessary for a mobile phone to identify an user with a subscribe information.
“Low-priced SIM” is a SIM card provided by a MVNO(Mobile Virtual Network Operator) company which services a mobile phone network with very low monthly charge, and it is also called “Kakuyasu” SIM in Japanese.
You often can hear “low-priced smartphone”, or “Kakuyasu Sumaho” in Japanese, which is a smartphone using the low priced SIM.
In Japan, three major mobile phone carriers ((DoCoMo, au and Softbank) operate a mobile phone service, but those three carriers cost you about 5,000yen to 8,000yen as a monthly charge including voice and data communication.
However, you can easily save the overhead of the mobile by replacing with such a Kakuyasu SIM. You can enjoy calling and data communication with very low cost.
The monthly charge of Kakuyasu SIM is typically in a range of 1,500 yen to 2,000yen depending on a plan of data amounts.
And, depending on venders of Kakuyasu SIM, there is an option of unlimited SNS, music or even you can enjoy YouTube with unlimited data.
For people who travels to Japan
For travelers to Japan, it is convenient to use a pre-paid SIM that you can buy at e,g, Amazon before traveling, or you can also buy in Japan at Narita airport, at a convenience store(Kiosk, New Days in JR railway) and an Electric Store in Tokyo City.
Recently, even such pre-paid SIM covers most area of Japan and there is an unlimited data option for e,g, google map browsing a week or 30 days with reasonable cost.
This is very convenient since you can buy it before visiting Japan by Amazon, or even after arriving in Japan.
Provider Pre-paid SIM in Japan
Below link is Japan’s popular company known as Kakuyasu SIM that services a mobile network with low cost, IIJmio.
Where to buy, refer to below link.
Buy at Amazon before traveling to Japan
You can even buy it at Amazon and get it before traveling to Japan.
At e,g, US Amazon, you can buy the pre-paid SIM, but not IIJmio. The one which is sold at US Amazon is not familiar as long as I know… However, it seems to cover most Japan’s area and got 3-4 star rating.
The offer is reasonable cost.
For people who lives or will live in Japan
If you already lives in Japan or will move to Japan from now on, you might as well bring your current smartphone and use such low priced SIM.
If it is the case, I would recommend you to think about “Kakuyasu” SIM.
Japanese famous Kakuyasu SIM vender, IIJmio
One of Kakuyasu SIM vender in Japan is “IIJmio”. They offer a voice and data plan with a very low monthly charge. You can expect it in range of 1,600 for a voice + data as a minimum plan, and if it is for only data plan it costs you from only 900 yen/mo. !!
If you have iPhone X/XR/X max, so-called “eSIM” has been available in it. It is like an empty SIM card loaded in iPhone, All you have to do is to “enter” a required information like a subscription of your contract in the internal eSIM card without having to buy a physical card of SIM.
For Smartphone: iPhone X/XR/X max
For PC: Microsoft SurfacePro, Surface Go with LTE Advanced
Very recently, IIJmio has started a data only plan(monthly subscription, not pre-paid SIM) for eSIM users. It is only available Data plan, but a voice plan is not yet started.
WIth this eSIM, you can contract with a different SIM vender for a calling and data plan separately. For instance, for a calling you can use Docomo physical SIM card, and for data you can contract eSIM at IIJmio to save a cost for data communication.
This eSIM is extremely useful, since you can buy it on internet and can easily configure it to load the subscription by QR code.
Comparison between Softbank and Low-priced SIM
Now let’s compare Softbank plan, which is a main Japanese mobile phone carrier and IIJmio Kakuyasu SIM plan, and let’s see how much you can save the cost of monthly charge.
And here is the “IIJmio” Kakuyasu SIM plan, which I am using now.
I am currently using IIJmio. Because IIJmio is very low price.
And, . Here is the Softbank plan, which is “Mini monster plan”. You only have to pay for the amount of data you used a month.
And, here is the comparison between those plans. The Softbank Mini monster plan close to 6GB plan of IIJmio.
As you can see the difference, IIJmio is way inexpensive and it is about one third as much as softbank contract.
Softbank Mini Monster plan is 5,480 yen usage based rate upto 5GB data, whereas IIJmio costs you only 2,220yen upto 6GB data with flat rate price.
If you have three in your family, in softbank case, it comes to no more than 16,480 yen in total but it depends on data usage.
And, IIJmio it only comes to 6,660 yen for three people per month. It even includes 6GB data per person as well as voice.
From that, you could save about 9,780 yen a month for first year and 12,780yen a month from second year if you are three family!!
Recommended low-priced SIM for a foreign national.
Here are other low priced SIM venders.
Most of them don’t have an english page to contract, but if you are good at Japanese or you have good Japanese friends to help you to contract, I would recommend those venders.
UQ Communications Inc. (UQ Communications Inc.) is a KDDI(au) Group telecommunications operator with a wireless data communications business.
mineo is also one of famous low priced SIM vender in Japan.
mineo has a plenty of optional services. You can enjoy calling and data service to the full extent.