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Prepaid eSIM for Japan: the Ultimate Guide (+discounts) | November 2023

Airalo, Nomad, Mogo... We tested several prepaid data eSIM providers for Japan for 2 weeks. From 4G, 5G, to speeds, including discounts, here is everything you need to know.

Published: Oct 6, 2023

Vending machines in the Japanese snow, Hokkaido

As you embark on your journey to Japan, you are likely wondering how to remain connected while travelling the country. If you do not speak Japanese and want to make sure you trip happens has smoothly as possible, you are probably right.

Introduction to eSIMs in Japan

No matter where you go in Japan, it is important you have access to the internet to navigate your way through the country. While the public transportation system is efficient, it can be challenging to use if you don't speak Japanese. Most Japanese locals do not speak English (most restaurant menus are not even translated in Japanese), so having translation apps like Google Translate can be a lifesaver for communicating with locals and navigating public transportation. Furthermore, having access to mapping applications like Google Maps is essential for finding your way around the city. The easy way to solve this and to travel smoothly is to get mobile data: if you are reading this article, you are probably well aware of that:)

This guide is here to help you remain connected with mobile data by getting an eSIM. Rather than relying on traditional SIM cards, we decided to test a few data eSIM plans from a couple of eSIM MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that have roaming agreement with local Japanese operators and share the review of our experience with each of them.

You can check if your device is compatible with eSIM here.

Why review eSIM plans and not SIM cards? esims.io (the website you are currently browsing) is all about eSIM. eSIM technology allows you to download a virtual SIM card directly onto your smartphone, eliminating the need for a physical card.

On esims.io, we're trying to gather as many eSIM offers as possible from as many providers as possible, so that you can compare those offers. Here is our comparison page for Japan, for instance.

This makes it easy and convenient to switch between different carriers and plans, without the hassle of swapping out physical SIM cards. With an eSIM, you can quickly and easily purchase a local data plan to stay connected to the internet, as well as make and receive calls using a local phone number. At esims.io, we are convinced it is a matter of years before SIM cards entirely disappear:)

Updated: November 4th, 2023

Best value : Airalo's Moshi Moshi plans

Airalo is a global eSIM store that offers travelers a simple and convenient way to stay connected while they're on the go. Airalo's eSIMs provide travelers with access to high-speed internet and voice services in over 200 countries worldwide, which are for the most data only.

During our test in Japan, we purchased AIralo's "Moshi Moshi - 1GB" plan, which costs $4.5

Data

1 GB

Validity7 day(s)

đŸ‡ŻđŸ‡” Japan

Data only

Network(s) : KDDI (LTE), Softbank (LTE)

$4.50

$4.50/GB
Learn more â€ș

But Airalo offers many other Japan-only plans that are variations (in terms of duration and capacity) of the plan we tried.

ProductPlan sizePlan durationCountriesPrice
Moshi Moshi - 20 GB

20 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$26.00

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 10 GB

10 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$18.00

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 5 GB

5 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$11.50

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 3 GB

3 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$8.50

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 2 GB

2 GB

15 day(s)1 country

$6.50

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 1 GB

1 GB

7 day(s)1 country

$4.50

Learn more â€ș

Airalo purchase and setup

When we purchased our eSIM from Airalo, we found the experience to be overall positive.

One of the biggest advantages is that it's incredibly smooth to purchase an eSIM from Airalo, whether it's through their website or mobile app. Airalo designed its product around making their user experience as easy and clear as possible, and it feels ! The process is straightforward and user-friendly, with clear instructions and prompts guiding you through each step, from browsing, to payment and setup. We loved the Apple pay integration.

In our test, we really loved the fact that Airalo worked their way to offer a "Direct setup" of your eSIM to your phone from the Airalo app. This means that as opposed to other eSIM providers, you don't have any manual action to do in your phone settings to be able to setup your eSIM plan: the Airalo app will handle things for you.

Airalo's direct eSIM setup_screenshot

On iPhone 13 PRO, Airalo's direct eSIM setup feature was very convenient to get connected quickly.

However, we did find two potential downsides to Airalo's setup: first, in order to purchase an eSIM from Airalo, you need to create an account first, which can be (it is, to me) quite bothering.

While we understand the need for security and account creation, it can be a bit of an inconvenience for those who are looking for a quick and easy solution and just need to purchase mobile data.

Second, we had an issue getting connected after setting up the eSIM which could have easily been avoided: we forgot to turn roaming on ! Airalo is not a "local Japanese provider", but instead roams through those network providers to be able to get data connectivity, therefore data roaming had to be turned on for our Airalo eSIM. Clearer instructions would have been appreciated through the setup process.

Airalo : compatible networks in Japan

When we tested Airalo's plan, we were in Sapporo, Hokkaido (which is a major Japanese city). While we found the overall experience to be positive, there were a few issues that we encountered.

One of the biggest disappointments was that we only had access to LTE connection and no 5G, which was a bit disappointing as 5G technology offers much faster speeds.

However, the LTE connection was still reliable, and we didn't experience any significant connectivity issues during our stay. Download speeds remained reasonably good though, reaching up to 90MBs, which allowed us to easily stream videos and use social media without any buffering or lag. However, the upload speeds were not as good, with only 8MBs, which made uploading photos and videos slower than we would have liked.

One great aspects though, is that we were able to roam using two of the best local networks in Japan: NTT Docomo and KDDI

We were able to switch between those networks depending on their coverage.

One of the biggest issues we encountered was that our internet traffic was routed through Singapore, which resulted in a slower connection than usual due to the high ping (latency). This was a bit frustrating, as it made our connection slower than anticipated.

This is a well known issue in the mobile connectivity world: since Airalo don't have a local network, they have to handle internet routing traffic themselves, and this happens through their servers (which in the current case are in Singapore).

Singapore traffic

Airalo : regional plans that work in Japan

We did not try those plans, but Airalo also offers plans that are compatible in Japan and other countries.

ProductPlan sizePlan durationCountriesPrice
Moshi Moshi - 20 GB

20 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$26.00

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 10 GB

10 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$18.00

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 5 GB

5 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$11.50

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 3 GB

3 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$8.50

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 2 GB

2 GB

15 day(s)1 country

$6.50

Learn more â€ș
Moshi Moshi - 1 GB

1 GB

7 day(s)1 country

$4.50

Learn more â€ș

Those Global and Asia packages remain very competitive in terms of pricing, despite their compatibility with many more countries than just Japan.

If you're travelling in other countries in the region, our eSIM guides about Asia or South Korea might be of interest.

Best experience overall : Nomad's Japan plans

Similar to Airalo, Nomad provides prepaid mobile connectivity services, bringing convenient, fast and reliable service to travelers at an affordable price point. Nomad offers international data plans in 100+ destinations via eSIM.

We are big fans of Nomad, and think they do a really great job creating affordable plans and providing a simple yet efficient experience.

During our test in Japan, we purchased Nomad's "Japan - 1GB" plan, which costs $5.

Data

1 GB

Validity7 day(s)

đŸ‡ŻđŸ‡” Japan

Data only

Network(s) : SoftBank (5G, 4G), KDDI (5G, 4G)

Special Offer: $1 OFF

$4.00

$5.00

$4.00/GB
Learn more â€ș

Purchase & setup experience.

The purchase and setup experience with Nomad was smooth, but not as direct as Airalo.

We loved the fact that Nomad provided very clear instructions throughout the purchase and setup. They clearly explain when you should buy your eSIM, when you should set it up, and when you should activate it. We felt very confident throughout the entire journey.

The main drawback in regards to setting up our Nomad eSIM is that currently offer manual eSIM setup (through adding the eSIM credentials in your phone settings) or through scanning your eSIM QR code (which is not as convenient as Airalo's direct eSIM setup).

esim setup nomad_screenshot

Network quality in Japan

Nomad's main roaming partner in Japan is Softbank, which provide one of the best network infrastructure in Japan. When using our Nomad eSIM in Sapporo, Hokkaido, we always had 4G / LTE network. We were sometime pleased with 5G:) What's a bit unfortunate is that we did not have the choice between two networks, like with Airalo.

Similar to Airalo, one of the big drawback with Nomad was roaming. Unfortunately, although we had a good bandwidth (100MBs download) while connected to Softbank's network, we were left disappointed by the very high latency: indeed, our internet trafic was routed through Honk Kong, which is a few thousand kilometers away from Japan.

Nomad speeds

Although we had great network speeds with 4G or 5G, our latency was bad due to internet routing done in Hong Kong.

Going further : read our review of Nomad eSIMs in Latvia

Other plans by Nomad for Japan and Asia

Similar to Airalo, Nomad offers many variants of their plans in Japan :

Japan only plans

ProductPlan sizePlan durationCountriesPrice
Day Plan -Japan -500MB/Day -1 Day

75 GB

1 day(s)1 country

$2.50

Learn more â€ș
Day Plan -Japan -500MB/Day -2 Days

75 GB

2 day(s)1 country

$4.00

Learn more â€ș
Day Plan -Japan -500MB/Day -3 Days

75 GB

3 day(s)1 country

$5.00

Learn more â€ș
Day Plan -Japan -500MB/Day -4 Days

75 GB

4 day(s)1 country

$6.00

Learn more â€ș
Day Plan -Japan -500MB/Day -5 Days

75 GB

5 day(s)1 country

$8.00

Learn more â€ș
Day Plan -Japan -500MB/Day -6 Days

75 GB

6 day(s)1 country

$9.00

Learn more â€ș
Day Plan -Japan -500MB/Day -7 Days

75 GB

7 day(s)1 country

$11.00

Learn more â€ș
Japan 20 GB 45 Days

20 GB

45 day(s)1 country

$28.00

Learn more â€ș
Japan 10 GB 30 Days

10 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$17.00

Learn more â€ș
Local Japan - 30 Days - 5 GB

5 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$12.00

Learn more â€ș
Local Japan - 30 Days - 50 GB

50 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$124.00

Learn more â€ș
Local Japan - 30 Days - 30 GB

30 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$79.00

Learn more â€ș
Local Japan - 30 Days - 3 GB

3 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$8.00

Learn more â€ș
Local Japan - 30 Days - 40 GB

40 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$109.00

Learn more â€ș
Local Japan - 7 Days - 1 GB

1 GB

7 day(s)1 country

$4.00

Learn more â€ș

As well as Regional plans

ProductPlan sizePlan durationCountriesPrice
Regional CN-JP-KR 20 GB 45 Days

20 GB

45 day(s)3 countries

$27.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC - 45 Days - 20 GB

20 GB

45 day(s)20 countries

$29.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional CN-JP-KR 10 GB 30 Days

10 GB

30 day(s)3 countries

$18.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional SEA-Plus 20 GB 45 Days

20 GB

45 day(s)14 countries

$38.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC - 60 Days - 30 GB

30 GB

60 day(s)20 countries

$64.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC - 30 Days - 10 GB

10 GB

30 day(s)20 countries

$22.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional SEA-Plus 10 GB 30 Days

10 GB

30 day(s)14 countries

$22.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional SEA-Plus 15 GB 30 Days

15 GB

30 day(s)14 countries

$34.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC 20 GB 45 Days

20 GB

45 day(s)21 countries

$47.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC 15 GB 30 Days

15 GB

30 day(s)21 countries

$36.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional CN-JP-KR 5 GB 30 Days

5 GB

30 day(s)3 countries

$13.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC 10 GB 30 Days

10 GB

30 day(s)21 countries

$30.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional SEA-Plus 5 GB 30 Days

5 GB

30 day(s)14 countries

$15.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional CN-JP-KR 1 GB 7 Days

1 GB

7 day(s)3 countries

$3.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional CN-JP-KR 3 GB 30 Days

3 GB

30 day(s)3 countries

$9.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC - 30 Days - 5 GB

5 GB

30 day(s)20 countries

$16.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC 5 GB 30 Days

5 GB

30 day(s)21 countries

$18.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional SEA-Plus 3 GB 30 Days

3 GB

30 day(s)14 countries

$11.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC - 30 Days - 3 GB

3 GB

30 day(s)20 countries

$12.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC 3 GB 30 Days

3 GB

30 day(s)21 countries

$13.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional SEA-Plus 1 GB 7 Days

1 GB

7 day(s)14 countries

$5.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC 1 GB 7 Days

1 GB

7 day(s)21 countries

$6.00

Learn more â€ș
Regional APAC - 7 Days - 1 GB

1 GB

7 day(s)20 countries

$7.00

Learn more â€ș

Mogo eSIM Japan plans : basic experience but efficient

As a last option we tested MOGO eSIM: MOGO, a brand belonging to iFREE GROUP, is an acronym for Mobile on the Go. Currently, the China based provider have collaborated with operators globally to establish an extensive network and unmatched network resources.

With MOGO, we decided to purchase their 30GB, 30 days plan, which costs $59.90. Convenient for long trips !

Data

30 GB

Validity30 day(s)

15 countries

Data only

$59.90

$2.00/GB
Learn more â€ș

Mogo eSIM offers other plans that are similar and work Japan as well

ProductPlan sizePlan durationCountriesPrice
Japan

3 GB

10 day(s)1 country

$3.00

Learn more â€ș
Japan

10 GB

90 day(s)1 country

$10.20

Learn more â€ș
Japan

5 GB

30 day(s)1 country

$5.20

Learn more â€ș
Japan

1 GB

15 day(s)1 country

$1.20

Learn more â€ș

As well as asia plans

ProductPlan sizePlan durationCountriesPrice
Asia-Pacific

30 GB

30 day(s)15 countries

$59.90

Learn more â€ș
Asia-Pacific

10 GB

30 day(s)15 countries

$24.90

Learn more â€ș
Asia-Pacific

5 GB

15 day(s)15 countries

$14.90

Learn more â€ș
USA/Canada

10 GB

90 day(s)11 countries

$29.90

Learn more â€ș
Asia-Pacific

3 GB

7 day(s)15 countries

$9.00

Learn more â€ș
Asia-Pacific

1 GB

3 day(s)15 countries

$3.00

Learn more â€ș
USA/Canada

5 GB

60 day(s)11 countries

$16.00

Learn more â€ș
USA/Canada

3 GB

30 day(s)11 countries

$9.90

Learn more â€ș
USA/Canada

1 GB

15 day(s)11 countries

$4.00

Learn more â€ș
USA/Canada

500 MB

3 day(s)11 countries

$2.00

Learn more â€ș
Asia-Pacific

300 MB

3 day(s)15 countries

$2.00

Learn more â€ș

Purchase & setup experience

What we loved with Mogo is the really straightforward purchase experience. You don't have to create an account or to download an app to purchase your eSIM. All that is needed is to select your eSIM, enter your email, and purchase it. Your eSIM is then directly delivered to your email address.

One great feature MOGO offers is the ability for your to set a later activation date for your eSIM. This means that for instance you can purchase it today, and decide for your eSIM validity period to start on the day (in the future) of your choice. This is convenient if like us, you like to plan things early, or if you want to make sure you make the maximum of your eSIM validity by controlling its activation date for when you land in Japan.

What we did not like with Mogo's purchase & setup is the fact that they only deliver your eSIM as a QR code !

To make sure you understand why it's not convenient, here is a simple explanation: in the world of eSIM, there are three ways to setup your eSIM on your device:

  • 1 - Direct installation: this is what Airalo (see above) offers. This means you have the provider's app installed on your device and that the provider has a special agreement with either Apple or Android to handle the setup of your eSIM (in your phone system) for you.

  • 2 - QR code scan: this is the "basic" way to setup your eSIM. This method is convenient when direct installation is not available. Basically, your eSIM provider will send your eSIM information through a QR code for you to scan. When scanned, your device will recognize that this is about setting up an eSIM and install your eSIM. The main issue with this approach is that you need two devices: one scan the QR code (then one you want to install the eSIM on) and one to display the QR code.

  • 3 - Manual setup: this is the "last resort" method. When direct information is not possible and when you only have one device, meaning you can't scan your eSIM QR code (ex: when you just landed for instance) to setup your eSIM. This method is about you entering your eSIM details manually. This is very simple, and it's only about copying and pasting two string of texts in your phone eSIM setup Wizard. But to do so, your provider need to provider you this information.

The issue with MOGO is that they offer number 2 (QR code scan), but not number three (manual setup as a backup).

Network experience

Similar to other providers, we were able to connect with Softbank and get 3G and 4G speeds, but our internet trafic was routed in China.

Conclusion

In conclusion, staying connected while traveling in Japan is crucial to navigate the country with ease. With the emergence of eSIM technology, travelers can now easily purchase and switch between data plans without the hassle of swapping out physical SIM cards. Our review of Airalo's eSIM plan in Japan found that it offered a smooth purchase and setup experience, with the added convenience of a direct eSIM setup feature. While the network quality was generally reliable, we did encounter some connectivity issues and slower upload speeds.

Overall, Airalo's eSIM plan in Japan provided a the best overall experience and is worth considering for travelers looking to stay connected while exploring the country.

esims.io lists many eSIM offers for 200+ countries across the world. We have many more eSIM options under the hood:

Airhublogo

Japan 20GB 30Days

Airhub

$15.00

eSIMXlogo

Japan 20GB 7Days

eSIMX

$15.75

Airhublogo

Japan 30GB 30Days

Airhub

$24.50

Yoho Mobilelogo

Japan eSIM

Yoho Mobile

$25.90

Yoho Mobilelogo

Japan eSIM

Yoho Mobile

$17.90

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