For Stay in Japan: Buying a Prepaid SIM card VS Buying a New Cell phone

I caught a terrible cold, so, I’ve not been able to upload my new posts X(
Temperature in Tokyo suddenly dropped down (The temperature seems to equal to December… Though now is still October!!). So, please keep warm and take care of yourself,especially, if you are staying in Tokyo!!

Precondition of Japanese Cell Phone

First of all, you need to obtain a device carrying the technical standards compliance mark when you continue to use a cell phone over 90 days from your entry to Japan.

Or, you can use your device in 90 days or less if your device fulfills some conditions.  

Why? Because of Japanese Radio Law.  It seems to aim to prevent radio interference.  

Please refer following link if you wanna know.

Ministry of Internal Affair Communication  To People entering  Japan

If you violate the law, you could subject to punishment. 

So, please make sure what you need whether a new device or not.

Replace to a prepaid SIM card for a Short Stay Less Than 90 Days

Nowadays, most of phones adopt roaming systems, so, you could continue to use your phone in Japan too if your device fulfills the above conditions. It is okay. However, replacing to a Japanese prepaid SIM card could save the fee.

Followings are famous prepaid SIM cards.



Rakuten Mobile Prepaid SIM  etc.

Many other websites introduce SIM cards for a short stay in Japan, so, I don’t mention a lot  in this post. 

I think this website nicely summarize the information.

Prepaid and Cheap Data SIM Card Options in Japan   ~Tokyo Cheapo~

Buy a New Phone in Japan

You need to have a Japanese credit card and residence visa to buy a new phone  carrying the technical standards compliance mark.

You can buy a new phone from the three major carriers or SIM card providers.

Buy from a Major Carrier

The  three major carriers have English supports.  So, I recommend you to make a contract with one of them, especially, when you cannot speak or read Japanese well.

Please refer this post as well to see each carrier feature.
For Long Stay in Japan:Each Feature of Top 3 Cellphone Carrier in Japan

The disadvantage is most of them requires two-years contract. So, it may be necessary to pay off the balance as well as an early cancellation fee. 

AU and Softbank deal with a prepaid phone but the fee is likely to be expensive.

Buy from a SIM card Provider

If you can read Japanese with no difficulty,using SIM card providers are very helpful in terms of the monthly fee and the contract term.

Relatively, their monthly fees are less, and the contract terms are shorter than the major carriers.  

Followings are famous SIM card provider. Each provider relies on major carrier’s network. ( All following website are written in Japanese)

LINE Mobile
Docomo network

BIGLOBE mobile
AU or Docomo network(Selectable)

UQ mobile *
AU network

*If you are interested in UQ mobile, I recommend to purchase from this agency  since you could receive refund.  

UQ Official Agency : Link Life (All written in Japanese)

Softbank network

Rakuten Mobile
Docomo network


However, most of them don’t have any English support. You have to handle a problem in Japanese when it occurs.

In addition, it is said that the reception is not so good as the major carriers’ phone. The reason seems to be because their directly contracted users’ priority is higher than the SIM card users.  SIM cards from such providers are renting major carrier’s network. Thus, the priority is lower than the direct contractors.

Both of them have merit and demerit… Please choose your best one and enjoy staying in Japan!

Related Post

For Long Stay in Japan:Each Feature of Top 3 Cellphone Carrier in Japan