In Case You're Wondering 'Will My Phone Work In Japan?'

ViaHero · October 21, 2018

Congratulations! You’re going to Japan! But now, you’ve got questions. Will my phone work in Japan? Can I use the internet? Data? Here’s everything you need to know about using your phone when you travel to Japan.

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Will my voice and text service work?

phone in Japan

It depends. Japan is packed with everything awesome—especially when it comes to technology—so LTE service is basically everywhere. But beware: international charges for most carriers are crazy high, so make sure to check your situation with your provider before you go.

Ok, so using my normal plan is probably super expensive… can I buy a prepaid phone?

You can indeed! But as a foreign national, there are limits on what you can buy in Japan. To that end, you can only buy a prepaid phone from the phone company SoftBank, and only at an actual store (not a kiosk). Don’t worry, the stores have English-speaking employees, and phones usually run 3,000–8,000 yen (roughly $25–$70).

Then can I just buy a SIM card?

If your phone is unlocked, absolutely! Don’t pay attention to all the stuff about GSM frequencies you’ll see online—if you’re using a modern unlocked phone, you shouldn’t have any problem using your phone with a Japanese SIM card, even if you’re getting pretty far off the beaten track. The big three carriers are NTT Docomo, KDDI au, and SoftBank Mobile, and you can buy cards from vending machines at train stations and airports.

Fine, can I just turn off my mobile network and use Wifi?

Of course, you can! One of the things that makes Japan a must-visit is its futuristic vibe; there’s Wifi almost everywhere. Looking for a hotspot? You can find it in nearly every train station, and even some trains (even bullet trains will have Wifi by 2019). Another great option: rent your own Wifi pocket hotspot for the duration of your trip—just ask your travel planner to arrange it for you!

That’s a lot of info. Can I just rent a phone?

Sure can. There are lots of phone rental companies at the airport, and some will even mail/deliver phones to your hotel or Airbnb. Prices can run between $2–$20 per day, depending on your phone and plan. This is a good option if you’re trying to do Japan on a budget.

Is there anything else I should consider about using my phone in Japan?

It’s worth remembering that using Uber and other apps in Japan requires data on your phone. And while exploring Tokyo or taking a day trip from Osaka is super easy with ViaHero’s offline maps, it does always help to have some sort of internet access. As always, you can always your Hero for more information if you’ve got any specific questions!

Ready to get hit up all Japan’s must-visit spots? We thought so. Send us a message or get in touch with a Japanese local to start planning your own adventure! And before your trip, make sure to check out: