Staying connected in Japan is crucial to simplify your stay. American phone companies will charge you anything arm and a leg for a minute of data or calling. Stop by any of their respective websites and you’ll see this:Verizon: $10/day plus talk, text and data, depending on your plan
AT&T: $10/day, $2.05/minute, or a $40 unlimited plan for 30 days
Sprint: No service to Japan
T-Mobile: No service in Japan
AT&T offers the best deal with their unlimited plan, but other than that a 5 or 7 day vacation will get expensive. So, then how do you save money?
Go to any big electronics stores (Yodobashi Camera, Yamada Denki and Nojima) in Tokyo and there is guaranteed to be an entire wall dedicated to pre-paid mobile plans lasting anywhere from 1-10 days, perfect for your short stay. Based on how much calling, texting and data you want, they’ll run you about ¥1,500- ¥45,000, with today’s exchange rate it’s about $14- $40. Essentially, what you’re buying is a new SIM card for your phone,so you need to go to your carrier and ask them to unlock your phone before you head to Japan. If you don’t do that, then buying a new SIM card won’t help you. Once the pre-paid time is up the plan automatically cancels itself, making it hassle free. Any of the companies are fine. However, U-Mobile and Y-Mobile are the leaders in low cost plans because they run on the same networks as the big companies.
If you plan to live in Japan but don’t want to pay big bucks to big name carriers like, Docomo and SoftBank, then there are great plans for that too.
Photo Credit: LINE app logo.
I used U-Mobile and got an unlimited data plan with a perfect 30 second charge for calls. Why would I get a plan with no calling and texting? A little known fact to those outside of Japan is that most Japanese only buy cellular plans with 5gb-unlimited data! This is all thanks to a company called LINE. LINE is a free app where you can call, text and even video chat for FREE! It also gives you access to play fun games to earn coins for additional features. Maybe the best part is that the app isn’t region locked as far as calling, texting and video chatting goes so you can still maintain contact with your family at home while you’re in Japan with no fees to worry about.
So, there you have it! An easy, inexpensive way to access Internet and communicate with others while chilling and/or living in Japan!
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