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Use cell phone in Japan: How to do it?

If your next trip is to Japan, then you must be wondering if you'll be able to use your cell phone in Japan. And we'll tell you all about it!

Leoneska Ruiz

May 26, 2023

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Japan is a tourist hotspot that has so much to do and so much to see. Whether it is for its beautiful natural sights, such as Mount Fuji, for its culture, or to go from edge to edge by the remarkable bullet train. If you are traveling to this country soon, you probably wonder if you can use your cellphone in Japan, a common question among tourists when traveling to a new country. 

That’s why throughout this article, we will tell you the best ways to use a phone in Japan on your next visit. We will also compare the options that will allow you to stay connected to the internet and help you choose the best one. Read on to find out more.

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Will my phone work in Japan?

You are probably wondering how to use your phone in Japan and if you will be able to connect to the internet. And the answer is yes, if you have a smartphone, you will most likely be able to use it while visiting wonderful places in Japan. 

cell phone in Japan

However, you may encounter some limitations; in any case, you may need to check a few things before driving off to the airport. To use your cellphone in Japan, we recommend checking if your phone has open bands. If it doesn’t, you will probably only be able to use your domestic operator’s roaming service, which could be expensive.

On the other hand, there are network frequencies to consider. You must check the network frequencies your phone works with and the ones you will find in the country you visit. This way, you will know how good your internet connection will be. In Japan, the following network frequencies are available:

  • 5G bands: n3 (1800), n18 (850), n28a (700), n28b (700), n77 (3700), n78 (3500), n79 (4700), n257 mmWave (28GHz)
  • 4G bands: B1 (2100), B3 (1800), B8 (900), B11 (1500), B18 (800), B19 (800), B21 (1500), B26 (850), B28B (700), B28a (700), B41 (TDD 2500), B42 (TDD 3500)
  • 3G bands: B1 (2100), B8 (900), B9 (1800 Japan), B11 (1500), B19 (800)
  • 2G bands: CDMA BC0 (800), CDMA BC6 (2Ghz)

Do I need an international plan in Japan?

International plans are those offered by providers and companies to travelers so that they can stay connected to the internet while traveling with their services. So, we can say that on most occasions, you will need an international plan for your cellphone during your travels. 

These plans will not only allow you to have an internet connection, but they are one of the best ways to use a phone in Japan. Since many services are cheaper and easy to acquire, keep in mind that international plans are not the only option to stay online during your trip. You can also count on the roaming of your local operator. But remember, this can be quite expensive. 

What are the International plans options for using my cellphone in Japan?

As technology advances, so do cellular services. So today, there are plenty of services with which you can get an international data plan and allow you to have the best internet connection available. 

We find prepaid SIM cards, a famous alternative to having Japanese phone plans as a tourist, and the new eSIM among these options. You can also count on Pocket WiFi, a good option in case of traveling in groups. And finally, you will find many places with free WiFi in Japan. You can have mobile internet with your cellphone in Japan with any of these alternatives. Continue reading to find out more about each of these options. 

Unlimited data eSIM for Japan

eSIM for Japan with unlimited data

We will begin with one of the best ways to use a phone in Japan, with the newest and most innovative option, and the one that has been growing in popularity among travelers recently. We are talking about eSIMs. These are Japanese eSIM plans with unlimited data and data sharing up to 500 MB daily.

These virtual services work only on some of the latest smartphone generations, especially Apple devices. This is because many phones are being manufactured with the eSIM embedded in the hardware, and you only have to buy the service and install it through a QR code. 

So if you are interested in getting this service, do not hesitate to go along with Holafly, one of the best online stores that offer eSIMs to travelers. You can enjoy benefits such as unlimited data during your trip, 24-hour customer service support, and much more. Holafly offers Packages that you can customize between 1 and 90 days of use with their eSIM in Japan. Starting at $6 and the more days of use the price increases.

Holafly also offers similar alternatives but with coverage in several countries, such as its eSIM for Asia with unlimited data.

SIM Card for Japan

This is one of the most traditional options among all, the SIM cards for Japan. As for the ways, you can find solutions for tourists from online stores and also Japanese phone plans from local operators.

Japanese phone operators such as Softbank, Sakura Mobile, and Bmobile offer tourist SIM cards for visitors. These Japanese phone plans cost 10$ and up to 30$ or more depending on the days of use and the amount of data to surf. 

You can buy local SIM cards for tourists in stores nationwide, shopping malls, and international airports. Please note that you must always go through a local registration process required for all tourists

You can also find this type of service in international online stores, allowing you to skip this registration process. Despite being purchased outside the country, these SIM cards for Japan will always use local networks to work, so keep this in mind.

Pocket WiFi for Japan

Another alternative with which you can also connect to the internet is Pocket WiFi. These small devices you can carry will provide an internet signal to the devices connected to them. This option was widely used among travelers many years ago. However, it has lost its fame due to these device and service costs. 

Pocket WiFi can be either purchased or rented. However, we recommend the latter option, which is much cheaper than buying one of these devices. 

Also, there are currently many companies with which you can rent this service. We would like to recommend a Japanese company, Ninja WiFi. A week’s rental with Ninja WiFi is around $50 and an additional $9 if you want the Pocket to be delivered directly to your hotel in Japan.

Free WiFi in Japan

You will likely find free WiFi in many places when you arrive in Japan. Starting at your place of stay, whether a hotel or some other place, you can check if they will have a free WiFi network to which you can connect.

On the other hand, you can also connect to free WiFi hotspots in places like airports, train stations, convenience stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. However, keep in mind that these WiFi hotspots may not be the most stable of all, and you will need to be close to the modem or antenna to maintain your internet connection. 

We recommend that if you connect to free WiFi hotspots, you do not log into your bank accounts or websites that ask for personal information. Also, we recommend that you keep this alternative as an emergency. This is not the best option for how to use your phone in Japan. 

Will my local Internet work in Japan?

Most local operators worldwide offer roaming services to their users. However, you will have to verify that you will have this service included from your domestic operator to the country you are traveling to, in this case, Japan.

On the other hand, it is also important to consider that international roaming is one of the most expensive services, as you could be spending up to $10 per day. Here we will talk about the roaming services of two very famous operators.

Use cell phone in Japan with AT&T.

If you live in the United States, you probably know AT&T, one of the most renowned phone companies in this country. And if you happen to be a customer of this operator, then you can use their international roaming service during your trip to Japan. 

With AT&T, you can use your phone services in two ways. First, we have the International Travel Pass, with which you can enjoy your phone services, such as data and calls, paying $10 a day. On the other hand, if you prefer to pay for your usage, it will be priced at $2.05/MB and $3 per minute per call. 

Use cell phone in Japan with Vodafone.

On the other hand, Vodafone is a UK cellular provider. However, they also operate in other countries worldwide, especially in Europe. If you would like to use Vodafone roaming for your trip to Japan, then you will have to pay $8 per day to use their services. 

What is the best option for using a cell phone in Japan?

Holafly eSIM home
Holafly home website.

Each of the alternatives mentioned above has its advantages and disadvantages. So, the best one will depend on your preferences. However, we can say that the option with the most benefits is Holafly’s Japan eSIM for tourists since you can count on unlimited data, tech support available around the clock, and excellent internet connectivity.

Frequently asked questions about how to use your phone in Japan?

Will my iPhone work in Japan?

If you bought your iPhone unlocked from the Apple store, it will work perfectly fine in Japan. Don’t forget that to use mobile internet with the phone. You must have some of the alternatives we mentioned, such as eSIM for Japan, SIM card, pocket wifi, or international roaming.

Do American phones work in Japan?

Most phones purchased as unlocked in the USA or any other country will work in Japan. Those purchased under contract with a local carrier such as T-Mobile, AT&T, or others will not work unless you have an international plan which can be very expensive.

Does T-mobile work in Japan?

If you bought your phone with T-Mobile, you can contract one of the international plans they offer to use in Japan. These plans are called Go5G Plus, MAX, and Plus plans, which allow you to have data to surf in Japan. To avoid surprises, always check the rates per MB to use in the country with your provider.