Having Internet Access Makes a Difference in Your Travel to Japan
I stayed in Japan for two weeks on vacation. Thanks to an inexpensive SIM provided by MVNO *1, I was able to enjoy a very comfortable journey.
This was my first visit to Japan. Therefore I made a few researches about the country before I left. Then I found there were difficulties to get an internet connection in Japan, such as no Wi-Fi accessible as well as few displays in English. Especially, if you are not in Tokyo, it seems to be impossible to find an internet connection in Japan. In addition, in order to use Wi-Fi connection, we have to make a registration in advance or we have to use a certain mobile phone operator's services.*2.
I was also about to visit suburbs. Thus in case I could not communicate people in English, a translation application would be required as well as map apps and search engine.Considering these situations, a usage of smartphone is unavoidable. So I was looking for solutions and found 3 options.
1. Renting a mobile phone organised specially for foreign people
2. Renting a wireless LAN router provided by the MVNO
3. Purchasing a prepaid SIM card provided by the MVNO
At first, regarding the option1, we have to pay a packet communication rate ranging from 70 to 160 yen per communication in addition to 950 yen day charge. I could not imagine how much I had to pay during the stay in Japan and it is not at all cost-efficient. Anyway this is an option for non-smart phone. Therefore it is not useful, either.
About the option2, it takes 6000 yen for 2 weeks.Although we cannot make a call, we can fully utilise smartphone's functions. With whatsapp, we can communicate with friends without problem. It is delivered to the address we request. However, it is a little nuisance because we have to return it.
At last, about option 3, it takes 4000 yen for 2 weeks. From the point of view of its functions, there is not a big discrepancy between the option 2 and the option 3.The router would be more useful if we are travelling in a group and can share it. If you travel alone, the SIM card would be handy. Besides the SIM card is disposable.
Taking into consideration a private trip and my limited budget, I decided to choose the option3. Checking several offers, I went for Prepaid SIM (http://www.prepaid-sim-japan.com) provided by BOJ mobile of BOJ Corporation. This card does not need to be activated.
Other MVNOs also provide prepaid SIM. However, their SIM cards need to be activated. We have to fill in personal information on the Website and set an access point called APN first before getting started.In other words, we cannot use it immediately after purchasing and we must find the Wi-Fi spot for setting it up. How easily can we find the spot in Japan where is not Wi-Fi friendly?
In that respect, BOJ mobile's SIM card has already been activated. To get started, we just need to set APN. In addition, we can pick it up at the arrival airport. It is very handy to use right after landed in Japan. The instruction manual is also enclosed.
*1. MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) is an operator providing wireless data communication services for mobile phone utilising the infrastructure or mobile communication services of the mobile network operators (MNO). Most of Japanese MVNO use NTT docomo's line to provide their services.
*2. Major mobile network operators in Japan are docomo, au and Softbank. There are many Wi-Fi spots available only for their own network users.
The setting of APN is done with the smartphone. My smartphone was the android.So from the setting menu of the phone, I selected "Wireless and network", then after selected "Mobile network". Several access point names were displayed. So I chose one and add it as "New APN" on the menu.
Once I finished adding the new APN on the phone, I could handle a data communication with the SIM card via network.
Its data allowance is maximum 100MB a day at LTE, high speed network. If you have used more than 100MB, you can still use it at 128kbs without limitation. This made me feel easy at unknown places. (Just for your information, I never exceeded the day allowance during the trip.)
With the SIM card, I did not need to find the Wi-Fi spot. It made my trip much easy. (In curiosity I checked the spot and there were a few free spots in the city. In the country side, there was none.)In addition, the map is necessary to walk in the complicated city. I thought it was impossible to survive without this.
Today many people cannot live without smartphone to update Facebook page, to upload images of travel on Instagram in real time and to search nice restaurants.If you want to enjoy your stay in Japan without stress, the usage of this inexpensive SIM card is highly recommended.
BOJ mobile SIM can be purchased from URL below.
Credit card, PayPal, and Bitcoin payment is accepted.
BOJ mobile is offering a special promotion: Buy one SIM and get up to 6,000 yen discount on Robot Restaurant ticket!