eSIM in Japan 🇯🇵 and the best alternatives for data roaming
eSIM in Japan and the best alternatives for roaming
Are you heading to Japan?
Japan is an amazing tourist destination as it offers many unique experiences that you would not find in any other part of the world. The culture of this country is an interesting blend of Eastern traditions and Western modernity as it is one of the oldest civilizations and has a stunning and diverse history. For this reason, Japan offers so many different experiences that attract tourists from all corners of the world. In this article we give you six reasons to make a trip to this amazing country at least once in your lifetime.
Japan offers pretty much everything mentioned, and I could probably fill up pages of places that can fit into each of these descriptions pretty well. With about 70% mountainous terrain and 60% forest (yes, Japan is an extremely green and natural country), the country offers trails, hiking, ski, tropical adventure areas, sub-tropical, snow, cosmopolitan cultural centers, oriental cultural centers, gourmet centers, over 30 World Heritage sites, hundreds of noteworthy temples or sacred gardens thanks to the awesome merge of two religions (Shinto and Buddhism), as well being know for its technological export and modernity. Its history is also not small, and can rival most European countries, with history almost back to before Christ times. It doesn’t matter what you are looking for in a travel: Japan has it covered, and pretty well.
Not only that Japan has a lot to offer, all major local carriers support eSIMs as well!
Traveling to Japan? Stay connected by purchasing an eSIM online!
eSIMs are easy to activate without the need of physical swapping of cards to install a connection. They also allow for another physical SIM to be used at the same time. Travel eSIMs are especially good as you can get them digitally right before you travel. eSIMs is perfect for travelers as it removes the need for individual SIMs. You can also upgrade devices in a breeze by registering your new device with your cellular network provider.
Let’s take a look at your options of eSIM in Japan
NTT DoCOMo has the best network in the country and a market share of almost 50%. A 2G-only phone does not work, because there is simply no 2G.
Its 3G network is called FOMA (stands for “Freedom of Mobile Access”) and is on 800 MHz in the countryside, 2100 MHz in the cities and a few 1700 MHz stations scattered about. The 800 MHz and 1700 MHz (not AWS like in the US, but EAWS) are used only in Japan, so are most likely not covered on your phone. A device that works on 800 MHz in 2G or 4G/LTE will not carry 800 MHz in 3G. You can expect to get NTT’s 3G only in cities on 2100 MHz with a device bought outside of Japan.
Its 4G/LTE is called Xi on 700 MHz (B28), 800 MHz (B18), 1500 MHz (B11), 1800 MHz (B3) and 2100 MHz (B1). Some of these frequencies are used in other countries too, but the most globally used 1800 MHz is only available in the cities of Nagoya, Tokyo and Osaka.
SoftBank, as 2nd network in the country (check frequencies at Basics section) has recently opened up its services to prepaid subscribers. Under very limited conditions prepaid subscriptions to foreigners on short-term are now possible. In 2016 it started to market a Tourist SIM for inbound visitors too, that is much more accessible for foreigners.
Foreigners visiting Japan short-term can sign up for prepaid SoftBank service only at airport counters in Narita, Haneda, Centrair (Nagoya), and Kansai showing a passport. In addition, certain SoftBank stores can handle upgrades from voice/mail only prepaid to smartphone service with data. When purchasing SoftBank’s prepaid service, you have two options:
Buy a SIM & phone package: Only this package has an extendable validity period, but it currently costs ¥15,000 for a phone and ¥10,000 airtime credit. This is a very steep start-up cost, intended for those who plan to visit frequently. buy a stand-alone SIM: This SIM is cheaper, costing only the preloaded ¥3000, ¥5000, and ¥8000 credit, but only lasts for 14 days and is not extendable in validity. You must buy a new SIM when the 14 days are over and you’ll lose any remaining credit on the SIM. This can be a great inconvenience, if you are not near an airport SoftBank counter when it expires.
au by KDDI,is Japan’s 3rd mobile operator, and for most tourists will be of no use, both because of its CDMA network type and because they normally don’t sell to short-term visitors. However, those with an iPad and an Apple SIM may prefer it to other providers since it won’t require purchase of a separate SIM, and for 1 GB data it’s competitively priced.
Note that you may receive a letter from au in Japanese at home after you return. Do not be concerned, it is simply a written confirmation of the service you signed up for.
According to the brand creator, the name ‘au’ is based on the Japanese verbs for ‘meet’ (会う) and ‘unite’ (合う) (both pronounced ‘au’).However, KDDI explains that au comes from two letters which stand for few words. ‘A’ is for access, always and amenity, and ‘U’ is for unique, universal and user. There is also a phrase, ‘access to u(you)’ that goes along the brand name.
So how does a roaming eSIM compare with local eSIMs?
Local SIMs are charging about USD 3 per GB. The price per GB on Sim to fly is USD 3.10 per GB on the first package then only USD 2.50 for add on packages. This makes the eSIM2Fly roaming sim competitive with the local eSIMs in price per GB.
Price of 6GB in USD
In the graph above, we see the equivalent cost of 6 GB when priced in USD.