2022 Best SIM Card Offers in Japan for Long-term Stays

2022 Best SIM Card Offers in Japan for Long-term Stays

Are you looking for the best SIM card offer in Japan, and are you going to stay in Japan for a long term? If so, this is the article you are after. This article explains the best SIM card plans for long-term stays, taking into account the latest information in the Japanese SIM card market.

Sim Card in Japan: What's New?

If you have a residence permit (在留カード; zairyu card), you are eligible to get SIM card plans Japanese people commonly use. On the other hand, there are those companies targeting foreigners specifically. So, the question is which type of SIM service you should choose. Yet, the answer is clear: you should definitely go for the regular type of SIM service.

Sim Card in Japan: It’s Cheap Now!

Japan's monthly subscription fees for SIM cards were notoriously expensive. This is not the case anymore, however.

The situation surrounding the SIM card market in Japan has drastically changed in the last two years.

Here is a summary of what happened during this

  • In the face of the demand from the public sector, the three big telecom companies, i.e. docomo, au, and Softbank revised their policies.
  • This resulted in a massive price reduction of SIM card plans in Japan.
  • On top of this, all the SIM plans offered by major companies have no minimum contract length.
  • Accordingly, there is no expensive cancellation fee, either.

Thus, we can say that SIM plans in Japan have become quite reasonable.

Which SIM Card Plan to Choose?

The next question is which SIM card plan to choose.

Selectra’s Recommendation is LINEMO

The best SIM card plan we commend is LINEMO. The reasons why we commend LINEMO is as follows.

  • 3GB for 990 yen without any complicated conditions
  • Unlimited data use for LINE
  • Unlimited Free Call Option Available
  • Reliable connectivity and speed

  Mini Plan Smartphone Plan
Data Amount 3GB 20GB
Monthly Fee ¥ 990 ¥ 2,728
Speed when Exceeding the limit Max. 300Kbps Max. 1Mbps
Additional Data ¥ 550/1GB
Call Charge (Inside Japan) ¥22/30 sec.
Options Free Call if within 5 min.: ¥550/month
Free for 1 Year
Unlimited Free Call: ¥1,650/month
¥1,100 for 1 Year
LINE Giga Free Unlimited data use for LINE
5G Available
Official Website Check LINEMO's Website

3GB for 990 Yen Without Any Complicated Conditions

LINEMO mini Plan’s monthly fee is 990 yen, and you can use 3GB for one month. Statistical data show that this is an enough amount as long as you have WiFi connection at your home. If not, LINEMO offers another plan with 20GB data (Sumaho Plan). This amount of data supposedly covers 90% of smartphone users, and even if your data use exceeds the limit, you can still use the Internet with the speed of max. 1 Mbps. Though slightly slow, this speed allows you to send email smoothly, read articles online, and watch Youtube, etc. So, we can fairly say that LINEMO can meet your needs.

To see how cheap these offers are, let us compare LINEMO’s two plans with some of the services targeting foreigners.

Comparison of Monthly Fees
  LINEMO GTN Mobile Mobal Sakura Mobile
1GB     ¥1,480  
3GB ¥990 ¥1,628    
4GB       ¥3,278
20GB ¥2,728      

Unlimited Data Use for LINE

Another good point about LINEMO is that you can use unlimited data for LINE. In case you do not know what LINE is, you can fairly imagine it as a Japanese version of whatsapp. Indeed, Japanese people use LINE quite extensively, and some people use a Whatsapp call instead of giving a phone call. So, it comes handy if you could use LINE unlimitedly.

Unlimited Free Call Option Available

Unlike some countries, Japan's SIM card plans do not usually have unlimited call in their plans themselves. On top of that, unlimited call options are not avaible in some SIM companies. However, without a phone call option, a phone call charge is usually ¥22 per 30 sec and this could actually be expensive. For example, if you give a call of 5 min on average per day, the totall phone call cost will be around ¥6,600. (Roughly, $50, €47, £40) 

Fortunately, LINEMO does have an unlimited call option. So, you won't receive an unexpectdly expensive bill.

Good Connectivity and Fast Internet Connection

LINEMO is known for its Good connectivity and fast Internet connection. Just to offer a slightly technical explanation, LINEMO is not an MVNO, but an MNO. What this means is that LINEMO is part of a big Japanese telecom company (Softbank) and that it thus uses Softbank’s mobile network as its own to deliver mobile services. This allows LINEMO to constantly maintain its high speed internet connection, unlike MVNOs, which do not own the network on their own.

No English Website but Easy to Subscribe

The only negative point about LINEMO is that, as with most of the SIM card companies, they do not have an English version of their website. However, you can easily complete the subscription process by using Google translation on their website.

Another Best SIM Card in Japan is Rakuten Mobile

Another best SIM card in Japan is Rakuten mobile.

Rakuten mobile’s plan is Rakuten UN-LIMIT VII (starting in July 2022). This plan’s monthly charge changes depending on how much data you use.

Here’s the description of the plan.

Monthly Basic Charge ~3GB ~20GB Unlimited
1,078JPY 2,178JPY 3,278JPY
Network 4G・5G
Data Amount Rakuten Area: Unlimited
Partner Area: 5GB/Month
*Speed after exceeding the limit: Max 1Mbps
Domestic Call Rakuten Link:Unlimited Call for Free
Regular Call Charge: ¥22/30 sec.
15min flat rate Call:¥1,100/Month
Monthly Basic Charge
~3GB ~20GB Unlimited
1,078JPY 2,178JPY 3,278JPY
Data Amount
Rakuten Area: Unlimited
Partner Area: 5GB/Month
*Speed after exceeding the limit: Max 1Mbps
Domestic Call
Rakuten Link:Unlimited Call for Free
Regular Call Charge: ¥22/30 sec.
15min flat rate Call:¥1,100/Month

There are basically four advantages in Rakuten Mobile.

Pay Just as Much as You Use

Just as stated above, the monthly charge of Rakuten Mobile’s plan changes according to how much data you spend. This means that in case you happen to use less data than usual, the monthly charge of that month will automatically be cheaper.

This is quite convenient. It can easily happen that while you usually use a lot of data every month, you do not use your phone at all for whatever reason. (For example, you might want to go back to your country during the holiday season.)

Unlimited Call Available+3GB available for ¥1,078

Rakuten Mobile’s plan is the cheapest offer for unlimited phone call + 3GB data.

Phone call is a tricky factor in Japanese mobile plans. Unlike some countries, unlimited flat rate call is not provided in the mobile plan itself in most of the Japanese mobile plans. Usually, the call charge is either ¥22/30 sec. (MNO) or ¥11/30 sec. (MVNO) and depending on your needs you add a call option to your mobile phone plan. It also needs to be noted that not all the mobile providers offer an unlimited flat rate phone call option, though.

Rakuten Mobile gives a nice solution to this situation. Rakuten Mobile’s plan lets the user to call for free unlimitedly as long as they use Rakuten mobile’s special call app, called Rakuten Link.

Rakuten Link’s phone call service is provided through Rich Communication System (CRS), a different network protocol from the one used for the regular phone call (Volte). You might assume that you and the person you are calling both need to use Rakuten Link, but this is not the case. Even if you are calling somebody who is not using Rakuten Link, the phone call is for free.

One defect is the quality of the phone call with Rakuten Link is allegedly not as good as when you call with a regular phone call app. Whether the quality of the call is good enough is a subjective issue, and hence it largely depends on whether your expectation is high or not. One criterion, though, is that Rakuten Link’s call quality is putatively sufficient if you are happy with the quality of the voice call with Whatsapp, for example. So, if you have no problem with a Whataspp call, we highly recommend using Rakuten Mobile’s unlimited phone call offer.

Unlimited Data for ¥3,278

Rakuten Mobile’s offer includes not just unlimited calls but also unlimited data. Given that unlimited data plans are not common in Japan, we can say that Rakuten Mobile is a valuable solution for those who need to use a lot of mobile data.

On top of that, Rakuten Mobile’s unlimited data plan is incredibly cheap. For example, unlimited data plans provided by the three major carriers in Japan (docomo, au, Softbank) normally cost twice as much unless you satisfy various conditions for discounts. These conditions basically require you to use fibre internet they specify and not just you but your family members also need to use their mobile plan. It is fair to say that these are hard to meet.

Thus, compared to the other unlimited data plans, Rakuten Mobile’s Rakuten UN-LIMIT is obviously an excellent offer.

Shopping at Rakuten

Rakuten Mobile is run by Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce giant. Rakuten is basically a Japanese Amazon, but you can save more money thanks to their loyalty points (Rakuten Points). Users of Rakuten Mobile will be benefited from this because they will have increased percentages of Rakuten Points for each purchase.

If you are going to stay in Japan, you can significantly economise by using Rakuten Mobile and do shopping on Rakuten.