Are you planning your trip to Japan and looking for the best eSIM card to stay connected and avoid high roaming charges? This is a complete guide with everything you need to know about using an eSIM card when traveling to Japan and a comparison of the best Japan eSIM cards in 2024.

Don't waste money on high roaming charges, read my recommendations below and order an eSIM card for Japan on the internet and get connected in just a couple minutes. Below you will find a Japan eSIM comparison with up to date prices as per July 2024 and all specifications.

This guide will also explain how eSIMs cards work, show you where and when to order an eSIM card for Japan, answer all FAQ about using eSIM cards, more info about network coverage and 4G/5G data speed, a comparison with local prepaid sim cards for Japan and of course links to directly order your eSIM card for traveling to Japan online.

Since 2012 I am already traveling the world full time and throughout the years I turned my passion for traveling into a lifestyle and became a full time nomadic travel blogger. That is why I constantly get to a different country and pretty much every week I need to look for a new sim card to stay connected.

In 2023 I visited for example 34 different countries so imagine how many different prepaid and eSIM cards I used throughout the year.

In the past I used to buy a local prepaid sim card on arrival in every country, but nowadays I mostly use eSIM cards to stay connected when traveling abroad. On my latest trip to Japan I tested the below recommended Japan eSIM cards for tourists.

Helping other travelers to save money while traveling the world is one of the reasons I started this travel blog. Providing essential travel tips is what made me start writing sim card guides from every country I visited and now on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world.

Traveltomtom also wrote eSIM card guides for: Switzerland, MoroccoMexicoVietnamSingaporePhilippinesMalaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Asia, Turkey, Egypt, Dubai, BrazilEurope, United Kingdom, Italy, USA, international eSIM cards and many more.

So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and eSIM card advice for your holiday destination. Bookmark Traveltomtom and let me help you save money!

Some links in this guide about the best eSIM cards for Japan are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don't worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!

My recommendation

Let me start with giving you my eSIM recommendation for Japan. These are my favorite eSIM cards for traveling to Japan in 2024.

1. Jetpac eSIM for Japan - $25 USD

  • 40 GB data-only eSIM
  • 4G/LTE
  • Operates on the KDDI network
  • Valid in Japan only
  • Valid for 30 days
  • $0.63 USD per Gigabyte

The simple reason why Traveltomtom recommends this Jetpac eSIM card for Japan is that it is the best value eSIM for Japan in 2024.

No other eSIM provider can beat this Jetpac deal with a rate of only $0.63 USD per Gigabyte!

Jetpac has 8 different Japan eSIM plans, several plans with a rate below $1 USD per Gigabyte.

2. SimOptions eSIM for Japan - $29 USD

  • 30 GB data-only eSIM
  • 4G/LTE
  • Valid in Japan only
  • Valid for 25 days
  • $0.99 USD per Gigabyte

SimOptions also has an eSIM plan for Japan with a rate lower than $1 USD per Gigabyte. SimOptions has 7 different Japan eSIM plans.

Both eSIMs are data-only and do not come with a phone number, which means incoming and outgoing calls/sms are not supported.

SimOptions has more eSIM card plans for Japan. Some are even 5G ready and their plans start from $4.90 USD. More about it in my comparison below.

Is Japan one of your stops on a trip around the world then you can also look into getting an eSIM card for world travelers. There are a bunch of eSIM cards that cover multiple countries and some are great for traveling to Europe, Asia and America.

There are 2 very important things to check before ordering an eSIM card for Japan or in general before using an eSIM card.

Unlocked phones only

Make sure your phone is unlocked. eSIM cards for tourists only work in unlocked phones. If you are not sure if your phone is unlocked then contact your mobile internet provider in your home country.

In general phones from Europe, Asia and the Middle East tend to be unlocked. Phones from North America are often locked.

If your smartphone is locked that means it does not allow another prepaid sim card or eSIM card to operate in the device. You can easily unlock your phone, but depending on your mobile internet provider you will be charged a fee for unlocking your phone.

eSIM compatible phones only

Second, and equally important: eSIM cards only work if your smartphone supports eSIM cards, also called eSIM compatible. All newer smartphones support eSIM cards. If you are not sure if your phone is eSIM compatible then simply go to Google and type in your mobile phone model in the search bar and ask if it is eSIM compatible. You will get the answer instantly. 

If your phone is NOT eSIM compatible then there is no other solution and you can NOT use an eSIM card for traveling to Japan.

However, you can still order a sim card for Japan on the internet before your trip. Find out everything you need to know about international sim cards for traveling abroad in 2024.

Comparison of the best eSIM cards for Japan

Buying an eSIM card on arrival in Japan is still not possible. None of the mobile internet providers in Japan offer eSIM cards for tourists, only physical prepaid sim cards for tourists.

At Haneda and Narita Airport in Tokyo as well as on the airports in Sapporo, Fukuoka, Okinawa and Osaka there are NO sim card shops but only sim card vending machines and convenience stores to get a local sim card.

None of the vending machines, convenience stores and sim card shops in Japan offer eSIM cards for tourists.

The only way to get an eSIM card for Japan is ordering one on the internet!

Luckily there are multiple eSIM providers that sell Japan eSIM cards for tourists. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an eSIM card for traveling to Japan from one of the well-known eSIM providers like Airalo, SimOptions, Nomad, Holafly, Jetpac, etc. that have proven to be reliable operators.

SimOptions and Airalo are long time favorites of Traveltomtom but are they still the best and cheapest? The competition is fierce...

So before you buy an eSIM card first read all my tips below!

SimOptions is the only eSIM provider that also offers international prepaid sim cards for Japan. These are pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards that will be delivered to your door step before your trip and it is plug and play when you arrive in Japan.

Airalo, Jetpac, Holafly and Nomad only sell eSIM cards for Japan.

SimOptions

SimOptions is a reputed eSIM card provider that is very much recommended by Traveltomtom. Ordering your tourist eSIM card for Japan through SimOptions is done fast and easy.

Why using SimOptions?

Traveltomtom has used SimOptions uncountable times for staying connected when traveling abroad. Very reliable, never an issue and often some of the cheapest eSIM card deals.

SimOptions is specialized in international eSIM cards valid in multiple countries however, for Japan they only have eSIM cards that are valid in Japan only.

These are the SimOptions eSIM card plans for Japan:

  • 1 GB data (5G ready) for 7 days = $4.9 USD
  • 3 GB data for 5 days = $6.90 USD
  • 5 GB data for 7 days = $7.90 USD
  • 10 GB data for 15 days = $9.90 USD
  • 15 GB data for 20 days = $21.90 USD
  • 20 GB data for 25 days = $24.90 USD
  • 30 GB data for 25 days = $29.90 USD

These SimOptions eSIM cards for Japan are only valid in Japan and are data-only. Incoming and outgoing calls/sms are not supported and these eSIM cards do not come with a phone number.

Click here to order an SimOptions eSIM cards for traveling in Japan.

The best value Japan eSIM card from SimOptions gives you 30 GB data for $29.90 USD, which comes down to $0.99 USD per Gigabyte.

This rate makes SimOptions the best value eSIM card for traveling to Japan in 2024.

Apart from the 1 GB eSIM plan all the SimOptions eSIM cards for Japan only support 4G/LTE. Unfortunately SimOptions doesn't specify exactly which mobile network these eSIM cards use in Japan.

The validity of these eSIM cards is 1 year and the credit validity starts instantly after installing the eSIM card, even if you are not in Japan. For more info check the SimOptions website.

Airalo

Airalo is a very reliable eSIM card provider and Traveltomtom has used Airalo uncountable times in more than 50 countries around the world. I can totally recommend using Airalo for ordering an eSIM card for Japan.

Why using Airalo? Airalo is one of the most recommended eSIM providers and very reliable. Airalo has eSIM cards for pretty much every country in the world. However, the Airalo eSIM cards are slightly more expensive per Gigabyte compared to the SimOptions eSIMs I showed you above.

airalo esim cards for japan 2024

Here are the Airalo eSIM card plans for Japan for 2024: 

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
  • 2 GB data for 15 days = $6.5 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $8.5 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $11.5 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $26 USD

Click here to order an eSIM card for Japan from Airalo.

The best value Japan eSIM plan from Airalo gives you 20 GB data for $26 USD, which comes down to $1.3 USD per Gigabyte. In fact a great rate, but higher than the eSIM rates from SimOptions.

The Airalo eSIM cards for Japan are from Moshi Moshi and they operate on the 4G/LTE network of KDDI and Softbank (Y!Mobile). The Airalo eSIM cards for Japan are not 5G ready, they only support 4G/LTE network.

All the Airalo eSIM cards are data-only sim cards without a phone number, so any phone/sms service is NOT supported. An Airalo eSIM card has to be installed within 1 month and after activation the credit validity starts when it connects the first time to a supported network. For more info check out the Airalo website.

Jetpac

Traveltomtom started recommending Jetpac eSIMs after they were tested extensively by the Traveltomtom Team and since there have only been positive reviews and recommendation about their product and costumer service Jetpac eSIMs got Traveltomtom's approval.

Jetpac offers its eSIM costumers extra services like free VPN and free lounge access. More about it below.

jetpac esim plans for japan

Here are the Jetpac Japan eSIM plans for 2024:

  • 1 GB data for 4 days = $1 USD
  • 3 GB data for 7 days = $6 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $9 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $16 USD
  • 15 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $18 USD
  • 30 GB data for 30 days = $21 USD
  • 40 GB data for 30 days = $25 USD

Click here for more info or to order the Jetpac Japan eSIM card.

The Jetpac Japan eSIM plan with 40 GB data for just $25 USD makes it the best value eSIM card for Japan with a rate of only $0.63 USD per Gigabyte.

Jetpac has more amazing Japan eSIM plans like 20 GB data for just $18 USD!

The Jetpac Japan eSIM cards are data-only and incoming and outgoing calls and sms are not supported. These eSIMs do not come with a phone number and unfortunately the Jetpac Japan eSIMs are not yet 5G ready, max data speed is 4G/LTE.

You can instal your Jetpac eSIM card before your trip to Japan, but it only activates from the moment it connects to a supported network in Japan or one of the other supported countries. That moment your days also start counting. The Jetpac eSIMs have to be installed within 1 year.

An extra advantage of Jetpac eSIM cards is that they provide a free VPN as well as free lounge access if your flight is delayed. However, you will have to register your flight before you travel and in case of a delayed or canceled flight a LoungeKey voucher will automatically be provided. This is a complimentary service that no other eSIM provider offers. For more info check the Jetpac website.

Nomad

Lately Traveltomtom started recommending Nomad eSIM cards as they sometimes have cheap tourist eSIMs for several different countries.

Although they have some good eSIM card plans for Japan, the Traveltomtom Team lately reported some issues with the performance as well as the installing of Nomad eSIM cards, so it is not Traveltomtom's first recommended eSIM for traveling to Japan in 2024.

Nomad has two different kind of eSIMs for Japan regular plans and daily plans.

Regular plans

nomad esim card plans for japan 2024

Here are the Nomad eSIM card plans for Japan for 2024:

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $6 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $9 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $13 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $17 USD
  • 20 GB data for 30 days = $28 USD
  • 30 GB data for 30 days = $80 USD
  • 40 GB data for 30 days = $110 USD
  • 50 GB data for 30 days = $125 USD

Click here to order an eSIM card for Japan from Nomad.

The Nomad website is a little less user friendly for finding the best eSIM card for your trip to Japan. Depending on your device you can't see all eSIM card plans in one overview, you have to click a little here and there, especially on desktop.

The best value eSIM card for Japan from Nomad is the one with 20 GB data for $28 USD, which comes down to $1.4 USD per Gigabyte.

This makes Nomad eSIM cards for Japan more expensive than Airalo and SimOptions.

The Nomad eSIM cards are either from SingTel or Joytel and they are data-only. Incoming and outgoing calls and sms are NOT supported.

The SingTel eSIM plans from Nomad operate on the 4G/LTE network of KDDI in Japan and are not 5G ready.

The Joytel eSIM plans from Nomad are 5G ready and they operate on the KDDI and Softbank (Y!Mobile) network, but are also extremely expensive with prices up to $125 USD for an eSIM.

Daily plans ('unlimited' data plans)

nomad esim cards for japan with unlimited data

Let me first explain the daily plans and why I do not recommend these Nomad eSIMs.

Technically these daily plans are eSIM cards for Japan with unlimited data, but there is limit. Basically you set the limit yourself by choosing a daily plan of either 500 MB, 1 GB, 2 GB or 3 GB.

After you used your daily allowance, your data speed is reduced to 512 Kbps, which means this Nomad eSIM card for Japan with a daily plan is technically unlimited.

But have you ever tried using your phone with a data speed of 512 Kbps? That means only WhatsApp will work and you might be able to send an email.

Completely useless this concept if you ask me! Therefore Traveltomtom does not recommend Nomad eSIM cards with for Japan with unlimited data.

Here are the 1 GB per day plans:

  • 1 GB data per day for 1 day = $4 USD
  • 1 GB data per day for 2 day = $6 USD
  • 1 GB data per day for 3 day = $9 USD
  • 1 GB data per day for 4 day = $12 USD
  • 1 GB data per day for 5 day = $15 USD
  • 1 GB data per day for 6 day = $18 USD
  • 1 GB data per day for 7 day = $21 USD

Here are the 2 GB per day plans:

  • 2 GB data per day for 1 day = $6 USD
  • 2 GB data per day for 2 day = $12 USD
  • 2 GB data per day for 3 day = $18 USD
  • 2 GB data per day for 4 day = $24 USD
  • 2 GB data per day for 5 day = $30 USD
  • 2 GB data per day for 6 day = $36 USD
  • 2 GB data per day for 7 day = $42 USD

Here are the 3 GB per day plans:

  • 3 GB data per day for 1 day = $9 USD
  • 3 GB data per day for 2 day = $18 USD
  • 3 GB data per day for 3 day = $27 USD
  • 3 GB data per day for 4 day = $36 USD
  • 3 GB data per day for 5 day = $45 USD
  • 3 GB data per day for 6 day = $54 USD
  • 3 GB data per day for 7 day = $63 USD

On top of that these daily plans make no sense! Lets say you travel to Japan for 6 days and you would like 2 GB per day. That is a total of 12 GB data and you pay $36 USD for that. A SimOptions eSIM with 30 GB data for 25 days only cost $29.90 USD.

The Nomad Japan eSIM cards have to be installed on your phone within 60 days and after installation its validity starts when it connects for the first time to a supported network in Japan or automatically after 60 days. Basically when the plane lands you are online. For more info check the Nomad website.

Holafly

Holafly is another well-known eSIM provider and they only only offer eSIMs with unlimited data. However, there is a catch and that is a so-called FUP (Fair Use Policy).

More about it later, but it could mean that you suddenly have a very slow data connection for a whole day until the data speed restores.

Here are the Holafly unlimited data eSIM plans for Japan:

  • 1 day 'unlimited' data = $6 USD
  • 2 days 'unlimited' data = $10 USD
  • 3 days 'unlimited' data = $13 USD
  • 4 days 'unlimited' data = $16 USD
  • 5 days 'unlimited' data = $21 USD
  • 6 days 'unlimited' data = $25 USD
  • 7 days 'unlimited' data = $29 USD
  • 8 days 'unlimited' data = $31 USD
  • 9 days 'unlimited' data = $35 USD
  • 10 days 'unlimited' data = $37 USD
  • 11 days 'unlimited' data = $40 USD
  • 14 days 'unlimited' data = $48 USD
  • 20 days 'unlimited' data = $64 USD
  • 30 days 'unlimited' data = $75 USD 

As you can see the Holafly Japan eSIMs are significantly more expensive than Airalo, Jetpac and SimOptions. The Holafly eSIM cards for Japan are data-only and incoming and outgoing calls/sms are NOT supported. These eSIMs do also not come with a phone number.

According to the Holafly website these eSIMs are 5G ready and they operate on the KDDI network.

You can use a hotspot on the Holafly eSIM cards, but it is capped at 500 MB per day.

Why 'unlimited'? Because there is a Fair Use Policy and Traveltomtom has had bad experiences with an FUP in the past. Suddenly your data speed is slowed down for 24 hours because you apparently used too much data. Holafly does not specify what the FUP is! More info later.

Imagine being on a 10 hour bus or train ride and after 2 hours you will get a message that you used too much data for the day. Then you have to wait 24 hours for the data speed to be reset to normal.

Therefore Traveltomtom's is not a fan of eSIM cards with 'unlimited' data with an FUP and therefore it is not my first recommendation when looking for an eSIM for Japan.

Also, the Traveltomtom Team tested Holafly in some another countries and was pretty disappointed with the overall performance. In a certain country Holafly was using the weakest mobile data network operator in that country and while people all around constantly had a proper data connection, the Holafly eSIM did not even have signal. Even in big cities the struggle was real and we constantly had to ask for the public WiFi of the hotel or restaurant because the Holafly eSIM was super slow.

I understand it could be a different story in Japan but Traveltomtom was put off a bit by Holafly eSIMs.

What is the cheapest eSIM card for Japan?

cheapest esim card for japan 2024

No other e-sim provider can beat the Japan eSIM deal of Jetpac for just $1 USD. You get 1 GB data valid for 4 days.

Other cheap eSIM deals for Japan are the Airalo eSIM for $4.5 USD and the SimOptions eSIM for $4.90 USD. These eSIMs give you 1 GB data for 7 days, are only valid in Japan and do not support calling and texting.

Why ordering an eSIM card for traveling in Japan

eSIM cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Japan in 2024 and you can arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a sim card shop and swapping physical sim cards. Order online, scan the QR code, follow the steps and you are connected in less than 2 minutes. 

The most important reason to get an eSIM card is because we would like to stay connected on our trip to Japan without wasting money on high roaming costs. Our smartphones are pretty useless without a working data connection. Think about ordering a taxi through an app, finding nearby friends, restaurants and bars. Get directions from Google Maps or simply staying in touch with family back home, check your social media apps on long bus rides or your banking apps when paying contactless. 

One of the best things about arriving in Japan with an activated eSIM card is that you are online as soon as the plane lands. More about when to instal your eSIM card later.

There are so many reasons to stay connected when traveling to Japan, but the most important reason is that it makes your trip to Japan so much more convenient and fun!

At the same time we don't want to waste money on high roaming charges. Many mobile internet operators still charge $3 USD per MB for data roaming, that means just opening the Instagram app will already cost you 20 MB * $3 USD = $60 USD! Not kidding… it still is very common in 2024.

eSIM cards are the easiest way to avoid high roaming charges!

Overseas data roaming plans

So what about overseas data roaming plans? Well, not recommended! Why? Did you read the small letters at what data speed you can use data roaming? Pretty much all mobile internet operators limit the data speed for overseas data roaming plans, which means you end up with 3G data speed. Do you have the patience to handle 3G? It is frustrating when all around you in pretty much all of the amazing tourist destinations in Japan there is 4G/LTE available.

And price-wise it should be a no brainer since you have seen how affordable the eSIM cards for Japan are. Why would you pay $5 to $10 USD per day on an overseas data roaming plan that limits your data speed.

Uncountable times travel friends have asked me: "Tom, can I use your hotspot? My data roaming plan is so slow, it is barely working!". Trust me, invest a couple dollars in an eSIM card or an international prepaid sim card for traveling to Japan if you want a physical prepaid sim card.

Stay connected all the time instead of begging for WiFi or a hotspot from friends. 

Where to buy an eSIM for Japan? 

Online

You can only buy an eSIM card for Japan through an eSIM provider on the internet. There are loads of eSIM card providers for Japan. Traveltomtom compared multiple eSIM providers and concluded that the above mentioned ones (SimOptionsNomad, Jetpac and Airalo) are the best and most reliable eSIM card providers in 2024.

When buying an eSIM card for Japan through one of the above recommended eSIM providers you only need your email address and the eSIM card is instantly ready to use after installation. There is no ID registration needed.

On arrival in Japan

There are 4 main mobile internet providers in Japan: AU by KDDI, Y! Mobile by Softbank, Rakuten Mobile and DoCoMo. Unfortunately as per July 2024 none of the mobile internet operators in Japan offer eSIM cards for tourists. 

For many years tourists could not even buy a physical prepaid sim card in Japan due to regulations, luckily this is something from the past. However, buying a local prepaid sim card for tourists is still pretty complicated in Japan.

Tourist sim cards in Japan are mostly sold in convenience stores, at the stores of the mobile internet providers you can often not get a prepaid sim card. Sounds complicated, trust me it is complicated! eSIM cards for traveling to Japan are the solution.

If you are able to get a tourist sim card then only a physical prepaid sim card is available, a chip that you put in your phone. On airports in Japan there are sim card vending machines. Zero service, not worth your time and effort.

Traveltomtom researched the best Japan prepaid sim cards for tourists and also compared all the 4G/5G data networks of the mobile internet operators in Japan, more about it later.

When to order/activate an eSIM card for Japan?

You can order an eSIM card for Japan pretty much any time you want. Most eSIM cards have to be installed on a phone within 1 or 2 months after purchasing, some even within 1 year, so you have time.

More important therefore is when do you instal/activate the eSIM card. The validity of some eSIMs start straight after the installation, other eSIM cards only start their validity when they connect the first time to a supported network.

Traveltomtom advices to instal your eSIM card on the day of departure to Japan or a day before. You will need a stable internet connection to instal your eSIM card. Pretty much all the international airports in Japan have free public WiFi which works ok most of the time, so you could use that to install your eSIM card on arrival.

Very important is to make sure you have a stable internet connection or you might run into issues with your eSIM. Therefore just to make sure Traveltomtom advices you to install/activate your eSIM card in your home country.

My personal advice is to instal your tourist eSIM card for Japan before you get into the plane, because then as soon as the plane lands in Japan you will be connected to the internet and you can enjoy data on your phone instantly.

How do I know all this info about eSIMs? Traveltomtom uses on average more than 30 eSIM cards per year because of my nomadic lifestyle of constantly traveling the world, 365 days a year, since 2012.

How to activate an eSIM card

Installing and activating an eSIM card is made as simple as possible. Everyone can activate an eSIM card and the instructions on how to are very detailed and will be send to you instantly by email after you ordered your eSIM.

But wait, forget about the instructions, it gets even easier. Just scan the QR code!

When you order an eSIM card plan for Japan you instantly receive a summary of your order including a QR-code after the payment is processed.

You will see a summary of your eSIM card order including a QR code on your screen and at the same time you will also receive an email with the same QR code. The email contains instructions on how to instal and activate your Japan eSIM card. Regardless where you order your eSIM card, all eSIM providers send you detailed instructions.

But installing an activating an eSIM card is as easy as scanning the QR code with the same phone where you want to activate the eSIM card on. The QR code contains all the information about your Japan eSIM card. 

Once you scan the QR code you will be guided through a couple simple steps and within less than 1 minute your eSIM card is successfully installed.

Very important is that you are connected to the internet when installing your eSIM card otherwise you will get an error and issues can occur.

Tip: if you order an eSIM card with the same phone where you want to instal the eSIM card on then ask a friend or someone nearby to take a photo of the QR code and then you scan the QR code from his/her phone and start the installation.

Things to know before ordering an eSIM card for Japan 

Here are some general tips and answers to FAQ about using eSIM cards when traveling abroad. These tips do not only apply for Japan eSIM cards, but are things you have to know before buying an eSIM card in general.

Make sure your phone is unlocked

To make sure you didn't miss this, let me say this again: eSIM cards only work in UNLOCKED phones. If your phone is unlocked then you can use any eSIM card without any problems.

If your phone is locked then ask your mobile internet provider from your home country to unlock your phone before your trip to Japan. It is likely that your mobile internet provider will charge you a fee for unlocking your smartphone.

If you are unable to unlock your phone you can look into getting a portable WiFi for staying connected when traveling to Japan or better… bring a second unlocked phone on your trip to Japan and use it as a portable WiFi device.

Which smartphones support eSIM cards?

Another very important thing you have to check before buying an eSIM card is if your smartphone supports eSIM cards. If you have any of the latest smartphones then there is no need to worry, all new smartphones of the well known brands support eSIM cards.

The fastest way to find out if your phone is eSIM compatible is by asking Google the question: is my (your phone model) eSIM compatible? Simple as that!

Can I trust these eSIM providers?

All the eSIM providers for Japan recommended in this guide are reputable eSIM card providers reviewed and tested by Traveltomtom. All of them are licensed third party companies and resellers that partner or work directly with the mobile internet providers in Japan.

Traveltomtom has used Airalo and SimOptions sim cards now for more than 5 years and never really faced a major issue. 

The Traveltomtom Team has extensively tested and reviewed Nomad and they have proven to be a reliable eSIM card provider. However, some mixed reviews have come back from the Traveltomtom Team about connectivity and activation.

Jetpac is a fairly new eSIM provider, but Traveltomtom only received positive feedback and excellent reviews about the eSIMs and services of Jetpac.

Since Traveltomtom is not a fan of eSIM cards with unlimited data and an FUP I hardly use Holafly, but when I did I was not happy. So now I let the Traveltomtom Team randomly test Holafly and just like myself, mixed reviews have come back. Some positive, some negative.

Traveltomtom does NOT sell Japan eSIMs, Traveltomtom only compares and recommends you to use eSIM cards for traveling to Japan.

All eSIM card providers have their own Helpdesk which you can contact may you encounter any problems or in case you want to claim a refund.

Can I keep my phone number from home with a Japan eSIM?

Yes, you can and this is for many people a reason to order an eSIM card to stay connected when traveling to Japan. An eSIM card can be used next to your physical or eSIM card from your home country at the same time. You do not need a dual-sim phone for using an eSIM card.

So you can have multiple eSIM cards installed on your phone? Yes, no problem at all!

For example: you can turn off the mobile data from your sim card from home but still use it for texting and calling. Your new Japan eSIM card you can be used at the same time just for data to ensure you are not wasting money on high roaming costs.

This is also the trick to keep receiving sms for example for OTP (one time password) sms to login to applications.

Switching between physical and eSIM cards is a matter of turning them on/off in the settings. Just always make sure your sim card from home is switched off for data roaming.

Can I make phone calls with a Japan eSIM?

No, unfortunately all the tourist eSIMs for Japan available on the internet do NOT include calling and texting. The eSIM cards from SimOptions, NomadAiralo, Holafly and Jetpac are all data-only eSIMs and any outgoing calls/sms are not supported. 

Even if you buy a local prepaid sim card for tourists on arrival in Japan it is really complicated to find a tourist sim card including calling/texting. Due to regulations pretty much all the prepaid sim cards in Japan are data-only and calling/texting is not supported.

Most hotels, restaurants, guides and tour companies in Japan have WhatsApp services, so you can easily give them a call through WhatsApp. There is no direct need for local calling minutes.

Does a Japan eSIM card come with a phone number?

No, none of the Japan eSIM cards you can buy on the internet come with a phone number, which also means you can not receive any phone calls or sms.

Local prepaid sim cards you buy on arrival in Japan also do NOT support incoming and outgoing calling and texting.

In the above Japan eSIM card comparison you can find all the specifications per eSIM card.

Can I use 5G on an Japan eSIM card?

5g tourist esim for japan 2024

None of the Airalo and Jetpac eSIM cards for Japan are 5G ready. SimOptions also only has one Japan eSIM card plan that is 5G ready and that is their smallest eSIM with just 1 GB data for 7 days.

If you want a 5G eSIM card for Japan then check out the Joytel eSIM card for Japan that you can order via Nomad. These eSIM cards operate on the KDDI and Softbank 5G network if available in your area.

Here are the data eSIM cards for Japan from Nomad that are 5G ready:

  • 30 GB data for 30 days = $80 USD
  • 40 GB data for 30 days = $110 USD
  • 50 GB data for 30 days = $125 USD

But as you can see these 5G plans from Nomad are crazy expensive!

The Holafly e-sims with unlimited data are also 5G ready.

All the best places to visit in Japan offer an excellent 4G/LTE signal and the data speed is very good even on 4G/LTE. Later more about the best mobile data network in Japan.

Are there eSIM cards for Japan with unlimited data?

If a sim card with unlimited data is truly unlimited, no throttling, no data speed cap, but unlimited high speed data then: YES AMAZING!

Holafly and Nomad eSIM cards for Japan include unlimited data but they also have an FUP. Traveltomtom does NOT recommend these kind of eSIMs.

Always ask yourself is unlimited truly unlimited? Is there a catch? If the unlimited data is not on max data speed, then there is a so called Fair Use Policy (FUP). Which means that your data speed will be capped after you used an X amount of Gigabytes.

A great example are the Nomad eSIMs with a daily plan. These plans give you 1, 2 or 3 GB high speed data per day and then after you can use unlimited data up to a speed of 512 Kbps. That data speed is useless, only good for WhatsApp or email. At least Nomad tells you exactly what is their FUP.

Holafly is another eSIM provider that sells eSIMs with unlimited data for Japan and uses a this so-called Fair Use Policy. However, Holafly does NOT specify what the FUP is. Which is very concerning!

Traveltomtom does NOT recommend Japan eSIM cards with unlimited data plans with an FUP. On Holafly sim cards I experienced a reduce in data speed after using more than 2 GB per day. After I contacted support they explained me that I had to wait for 24 hours until my data speed was restored to normal.

Those 24 hours were a nightmare as my data speed was barely enough to use WhatsApp. Social media was not even loading!

Especially on days that you have a long bus or train ride and you need a lot of data, you definitely don't want any data speed restrictions that day.

If you think you will never use more than 2 GB per day, then these Holafly or Nomad eSIMs might be your favorite eSIM card.

However, if you don't use so much data per day then what's the point of an eSIM with unlimited data!?

SimOptions has an eSIM with 30 GB data and Jetpac even has an eSIM with 40 GB data. This is for most travelers more than enough for their trip to Japan. If this is not enough you can also order 2 eSIM cards and after one is done, you instal the second one.

There are a lot of different specifications per eSIM card. Another reason why I advice you to take a close look at my comparison of the best eSIM cards for traveling to Japan in 2024 before choosing your favorite.

Are eSIM cards the best way to stay connected when traveling to Japan?

eSIM cards are the easiest and fastest way to get data on your phone when traveling to Japan, but what is the best way?

There are 3 ways to stay connected when traveling to Japan:

  • Local prepaid sim cards
  • International prepaid sim cards
  • eSIM cards

Let's compare eSIM cards, local prepaid sim cards and international prepaid sim cards, for you to find out what is your preferred way of staying connected.  

Local prepaid sim cards

In general if you use a lot of data then local prepaid sim cards are a cheaper way to stay connected, depending on the length of your trip. However, this does not count for Japan.

The Japan prepaid sim cards for tourists from Rakuten Mobile, AU by KDDI, DoCoMo and Softbank are with unlimited data but they have a fair-use policy of 2 or 3 GB per day, so that is not really unlimited as explained above. These physical prepaid sim cards cost around $22 USD exclusive of the registration fee.

When buying a local prepaid sim card in Japan you get a physical sim card and you need to swap this one with your existing sim card from home.

You can only buy these local prepaid sim cards for tourists on arrival in Japan in a convenience store. At airports in Japan there are no sim card shops, only sim card vending machines.

Local prepaid sim cards in Japan do not come with calling minutes, pretty much all the local prepaid sim cards in Japan are data-only. That means incoming and outgoing calls/sms are not supported.

International prepaid sim cards

If your smartphone is not eSIM compatible you can order an international prepaid sim card for traveling to Japan. These are physical prepaid sim cards you order on the internet and will be delivered to your home address.

Some of these are great for visiting Japan and they are valid in up to 141 countries around the world and you can easily order them online.

If after visiting Japan you are traveling onwards in America, Asia or in Europe then check Traveltomtom’s list of the best sim cards for traveling internationally in 2024.

international prepaid sim card for japan

As I mentioned before SimOptions is the only sim card provider that also sells physical prepaid sim cards for traveling internationally.

A pre-activated physical sim card will be delivered to your door step before your trip to Japan. You put this physical sim card in your phone and as soon as the plane touches the ground in Japan and the sim card connects to a supported network you are online. Plug and play!

If you look at the international prepaid sim card above you see that the physical sim card version of the Orange Holiday World is also a good option for traveling to Japan.

A physical prepaid sim card with 10 GB data only costs $49.90 USD, which is $4.99 USD per Gigabyte.

Click here to order a physical prepaid sim card for Japan via SimOptions.

eSIM cards

As explained throughout the article there are two different eSIM cards for traveling in Japan:

  • eSIM cards that you buy on the internet through a third party
  • eSIM cards that you buy in Japan in a mobile internet provider store

However, as of July 2024 the mobile internet providers in Japan do NOT offer eSIM cards for tourists. They only provide physical prepaid sim cards for tourists.

eSIM cards vs. local prepaid sim cards

Getting an eSIM card on the internet is the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Japan, no doubt! You arrange everything online within just a couple clicks. Right here, right now and you are all set for your trip to Japan.

You arrive prepared and there is no need to visit a sim card shop on arrival in Japan. As soon as the plane lands, you are online!

But what is cheaper? An eSIM card or a local prepaid sim card for tourists?

When we compare the prices for Japan eSIM cards with the prices for local prepaid sim cards in Japan Traveltomtom comes to the conclusion that there is not much difference in price. eSIM cards for Japan are very affordable and there are some amazing eSIM card deals for Japan available on the internet.

Remember that some of the eSIM cards for Japan also go down to only $0.63 USD per Gigabyte. The Jetpac eSIM plan with 40 GB data for $25 USD is the best buy eSIM card for Japan in 2024.

Local physical prepaid sim cards cost about the same price when you include the registration fee but they will give you unlimited data. Keep in mind that this is in reality only 2 GB data per day, because if you use more than 2 GB data per day then your data speed will be reduced.

Local prepaid sim cards can only be bought in Japan on arrival in a convenience store or at the airport in a sim card vending machine. Then you will have to do the registration yourself by scanning your passport. Trust me buying a local prepaid sim card in Japan is complicated.

An eSIM card for Japan can be bought in just 2 minutes on the internet at any time of day without any form of identification.

After a long flight you just want to get to your hotel and it is often a big task to find a place where you can buy a local prepaid sim card. With an eSIM card that you order on the internet you are connected as soon as the plane lands.

Simply because of this convenience Traveltomtom recommends ordering an eSIM cards for Japan.

There are many reasons why a lot of travelers simply get an eSIM card for visiting Japan: faster, easier, less stress and even cheaper depending on how much data you need.

Data speed

Another difference between a local prepaid sim card and an eSIM card is that eSIM cards are in general through a third party, a so called MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These MVNO's operate on the network of one of the main mobile internet operators and basically buy bandwidth.

This may sound a little bit too technical, but what it means is that eSIM cards through an MVNO are the last ones in line when the line is busy. Especially during peak times, the performance of an eSIM cards could be less compared to a local prepaid sim card from a mobile internet operator you bought in Japan.

Bottomline: the data speed of eSIM cards can be less compared to a local prepaid Japan sim card.

In reality you won't really notice the difference much because yes it may occur that your data speed is a little slower for a couple minutes, but it is still fast enough to roam the internet without any problems.

Best 4G/5G network in Japan

best 4g 5g network in japan

Above is the 4G/5G coverage map of the NTT DoCoMo network, the KDDI network coverage map is similar

Traveltomtom researched the 4G/5G network of all the mobile internet providers in Japan and compared the mobile internet coverage maps of AU (KDDI), Y!MOBILE (Softbank), Rakuten Mobile and DoCoMo.

Conclusion is that DoCoMo and AU by KDDI have the best 4G/5G mobile data network in Japan in 2024. The Rakuten Mobile 4G/5G network is small smaller and is the weakest 4G/5G mobile data network in Japan in 2024.

For tourist traveling to Sapporo it is not recommended to get a sim card to operates on the Rakuten Mobile network. Their 4G/5G coverage in Sapporo is very poor. Y! Mobile (Softbank) also has a weak 4G/5G network in Sapporo compared to KDDI and DoCoMo.

  • Nomad eSIMs operate on the KDDI and Softbank network.
  • Airalo eSIMs operate on the KDDI and Softbank network.
  • Jetpac eSIMs operate on the KDDI network.
  • Holafly eSIMs operate on the KDDI network.
  • SimOptions does unfortunately not specify on which network they operate in Japan.

I am sure some of the above tips for finding the best eSIM card for your trip to Japan were helpful. I hope that after reading through my comparison and all my tips and tricks it was easier to make a decision and order your preferred eSIM card for Japan.

If you still have any questions about eSIM cards then please leave me a comment below and I am more than happy to help you out.

Curious what the life of a full time nomadic traveler looks like? Go check out my 650K Instagram account or 1.3 Million TikTok account both called @traveltomtom. Follow along with daily updates from around the world about the good, the bad and the ugly about traveling.

Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to travel to every country in the world. As of July 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, still about 40 to go, but no rush.

Enjoy your trip to Japan!