Phone subscription in Japan

Introduction

When traveling to Japan for the first time, you will quickly find that Wi-Fi is available at almost all train stations and it will be a great help if you want to get around on your vacation. However, when it comes to a longer trip, the Wi-Fi will no longer be sufficient and it will be necessary to get a telephone subscription.

With a telephone subscription in Japan, above all, you’ll obtain a Japanese telephone number which becomes essential if you want to work. But what about the demand for a telephone subscription in Japan? Indeed, it becomes more complicated when you don’t understand Japanese.

That’s why I’m going to help you make your request easily even if you don’t know a Japanese word, so that you can have both data (memory to go on the internet) and a Japanese phone number.

Where to buy a telephone subscription in Japan?

Japan is well known for all its electronics stores where you can really find anything you want. Bic Camera (jap: ビックカメラ) is the name of one of the biggest electronics store chains in Japan and there are so many of them, it will be impossible not to cross paths with them.

Bic Camera's Logo

Imagine a store a hundred times the size of your biggest mall in your country and you have Bic Camera. Indeed, Bic Camera is often divided into several well-organized floors so that you can find what you want per floor.

Which telephone subscription to buy in Japan?

As you walk through the many shelves of the Bic Camera, you will find different SIM cards usually located next to the cash desks. Bic Camera will offer you different SIM cards that you can choose from based on the following:

The number of memories to go on the internet,

The brand of the telephone operator,

The price.

When it comes to the brand of the operator, you have so many choices that it’s hard to pick one or the other, especially when you don’t know these operators in Japan. Here below some examples:

Softbank,

Yahoo! mobile,

Rakuten,

Apple.

But choosing your phone plan will mostly depend on your budget for the duration of your trip and your internet usage. You will notice that telephone subscriptions in Japan are much more expensive than in many others countries and maybe yours.

SIM card information in Japan

So far, you’ve chosen your SIM card, but what about the phone subscription and Japanese phone number you would like?

When you have chosen your SIM card, I recommend that you discuss it with a salesperson at Bic Camera, whether on the shelf or at the cash register. Do not hesitate to ask if the article you have chosen allows you to have a one-year telephone subscription (if you are on a student visa or WHV) and therefore have a telephone number.

At that point, I suggest you try your hand at speaking English. If not, the following sentences may help you:

電話番号がありますか。
Is there a phone number ?

1年間の電話購読が欲しいです。
I would like a telephone subscription for one year.

Phone compatibility in Japan: 4G support in Japan

At the time of your exchanges, the person will make you fill out forms and he will test the SIM card in your mobile phone to find out if your smartphone supports 4G in Japan. You will know it quickly if your phone displays the little « 4G » on your screen.

If your smartphone displays « 4G » on your screen, then it supports Japan’s 4G.

If your smartphone displays « H+ » or a network less powerful than 4G, it means that the network is circulating less well when you test the SIM card. Or your phone doesn’t support Japan’s 4G.

If the small 4G is not displayed, the person will suggest that you buy a new phone that can pick up 4G.

Compatible smartphone in Japan

Now that we are on 4G, make sure your smartphone is usable in Japan, here is a list of cell phone brands that support 4G in Japan:

Apple, Arrows, Asus, Aquos, Digno, Fujitsu, Huawei, LG, M, Motorola, Oneplus, Oppo, Sharp, Sony, Samsung, V30+.

I still recommend having a not too old phone.

Payment of your telephone subscription

After choosing your SIM card and filling out the forms you will be given, you can finally pay for your phone subscription. At Bic Camera, you will then be asked to pay using a bank card (Japanese or other). When paying with a foreign bank card, remember that you will pay a commission each month in addition to the amount of the telephone subscription.

Thus, thanks to your new telephone subscription and your Japanese telephone number, you will be able to create a bank account in Japan or find a job easily.