The Great Hunt for a Mobile Phone Number in Japan
After all the obstacles one must encounter before moving to Japan – especially if one decides to move here completely alone – one of the most difficult challenges most people face is looking for mobile carriers and internet service providers.
Here are some basic things you need to consider when choosing a mobile carrier:
- How long are you planning to stay in Japan?
This is important to note because most mobile carrier contracts are no less than 24 months and cancellation fees are quite expensive (about 10,000¥). There are even people who decide not to get a mobile phone number because of this – mostly international students on a short exchange program. For individuals who don’t wish to acquire a phone number but would feel safer with some data on their hands for navigation and basic SNS use (for free phone calls even), we would rather recommend data-only SIM cards which are mainly targeted for tourists – like IIJmio’s, which can be found in most electronic gadget shops.
- Phone calls and texts or mobile data?
Even if you do need a phone number after all, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are the kind of person who will talk a lot on the phone. There are service packs that are more phone call/text heavy, and there are also ones that are more data heavy. If you make a lot of phone calls during the day, you may be considered to be one of the former, but if you use SNS and e-mails more to keep in touch, you might be on the hunt for more of a data heavy service pack.
- What is your budget?
Service pack rates vary from around 1,500¥ to 5,000¥ per month, depending on what kind of service conditions or what size of phone call/data pack you choose. If you are planning on investing into a pocket Wi-Fi or a router with unlimited internet for your home, you might be more keen on choosing one of the smaller (“S”) and more wallet-friendly packs.
- What kind of payment options are suitable for you?
If you have just arrived in Japan and don’t own a Japanese bank account yet, or you do but it still has no money in it, you may want to consider choosing a mobile carrier service company where monthly payment by a foreign credit card is possible.
This could be important in the beginning in order to be able to make a contract in case you are having trouble creating a bank account. Later, you can feel free to change your payment method to whatever you like and whatever is possible. Most companies have this option on their official website – you just have to log in with the ID and password that was assigned to you personally, request a payment method change, and they will most likely send you a postcard by mail where you have to give the details of your new credit card or bank account, then send it back (which is free of charge). If you need help with filling the papers out and there is a representative office (支店) nearby you can visit, they will most likely kindly be at your service.
Mobile phone companies and service packs that we would recommend and accept foreign credit cards for monthly payment:
|Name||Website||Contract period||Amount of mobile data/month||Special conditions
|Y!Mobile Smartphone Plan S・M・R||Y!Mobile Smartphone Plans||24 months||3~9~21 GB||Free domestic calls
if under 10 minutes
|LINE Mobile “Communication Free”||Line Mobile Data Packs||12 months||3~5~7~10 GB||Facebook, Instagram, LINE
and Twitter are free to use
outside of the data plan
|Basic fee (data):
1,690¥ ~ 3,220¥
Call rate: 40¥/minute
|UQ Mobile Data Packs||24 months||3~9~21 GB||Facebook and Twitter are free to use outside of the data plan
for 30 minutes every day
|Basic fee (data):
1,480¥ ~ 4,980¥
Free call rates vary accordingly: 60/120/180 minutes/month
If you would like to see other kind of possible service packs as well, please take a look at the following comparative website: 価格.COM
Good luck on your mobile carrier hunt!