Summary of places where you can buy SIM cards that can be used on the same day in Japan. Can you buy them at airports and convenience stores?

One of the essentials for traveling in Japan is data communication, for posting photos on SNS, checking transportation to your destination, and so on. However, there may be times when the SIM card you prepared is not recognized properly, or you forgot to buy it before departure, and you have to procure it on the spot.

As useful information for such times, we have compiled places where tourists visiting Japan can purchase SIM cards on the same day. Please refer to this along with the points to note before purchasing!

※All the information appearing in this article is as of May 2024. Please check the official website etc. for the latest information.
※If you purchase or reserve the products introduced in the article, a portion of the sales may be returned to FUN! JAPAN.

How should tourists choose and what should they be aware of when buying a SIM card in Japan?

How to choose and what to be aware of when buying a SIM card in Japan for tourists

Prepaid SIM cards are the mainstream for short-term tourists in Japan to purchase and use within the country. A prepaid SIM card is one where the usage period and data capacity are predetermined, and can be used until the purchased data capacity is exhausted or the usage period expires.

However, even though we say "prepaid SIM card", there are various types. Generally, SIM cards for tourists visiting Japan are data-only, and voice calls and SMS are not available. On the other hand, it is characterized by the fact that it can be used immediately after purchase by inserting it into a SIM-free or SIM-unlocked device, as there is no need for contract procedures with communication carriers (※ Some require setting and activation procedures).

How to choose and precautions when buying a SIM card in Japan for tourists

Three sizes of SIM cards

  1. (Left) Standard SIM / miniSIM (25mm×15mm)
  2. (Middle) microSIM (15mm×12mm)
  3. (Right) nanoSIM (2.3mm×8.8mm)

The prepaid SIM cards sold in stores are basically "multi-size" that can accommodate all three types of SIM cards in circulation: "standard SIM", "microSIM", and "nanoSIM". Since you detach the card from the backing paper to match the size suitable for your device, there is no need to determine the size in advance.

Also, prepaid SIM cards have various validity periods depending on the product. The general validity period ranges from a few days to one month, and there are also those valid for half a year. On the other hand, the amount of data communication also varies by product, with some having a daily limit, some allowing unlimited use during the period, and others offering several GB to tens of GB of data. Some products even allow you to purchase additional data as needed, so consider your usage situation and choose a product that meets your needs, such as the number of days you want to use it, the amount of data, etc.

Summary of places where you can buy SIM cards in Japan

There are mainly five ways for tourists to purchase and use prepaid SIM cards in Japan on the same day. If you arrive at a major airport, you can find counters and vending machines. In the city, you can find them at electronics stores and convenience stores in the city center. Each location has different characteristics, so choose according to your timing and needs.

1. Airport Sales Counter (Narita International Airport, Haneda Airport, Kansai International Airport, etc.)

Places to buy SIM cards in Japan 1. Airport Sales Counter

Haneda Airport
© Tokyo Tourism Foundation © Tokyo Convention&Visitors Bureau

At airports such as Narita International Airport, Haneda Airport, and Kansai International Airport, which serve many international flights, airport counters selling prepaid SIM cards for use in Japan are set up mainly in the arrival lobbies.

One of the advantages of purchasing a SIM card at an airport counter is that the staff are accustomed to dealing with travelers. You can receive support in multiple languages for purchase procedures and usage instructions, so even those who are not good at operations such as initial setup and activation procedures can purchase with confidence. In addition, some stores offer technical support in English and Chinese after purchase, so you can feel secure throughout your trip.

You can check the details of SIM card sales locations from the official websites of each airport.

Locations of SIM card sales counters at major airports (example)

【Narita International Airport】

【Haneda Airport】

【Kansai International Airport】

2. SIM Card Vending Machines (Narita International Airport, Haneda Airport, Kansai International Airport, etc.)

Places to buy SIM cards in Japan 2. SIM Card Vending Machines

Depending on the arrival time of your flight, the sales counter may be closed. In such cases, the SIM card vending machines, which are available 24/7 at major airports, are very convenient. You can easily purchase a prepaid SIM card at any time during the terminal building's business hours.

The data capacity ranges from 1GB to unlimited plans, and the usage period can be as short as a few days to as long as several tens of days. You can choose from a variety of plans according to the length of your trip and frequency of use. Payments can be made in cash, credit card, and some machines also accept various transportation IC cards such as Suica, depending on the model.

Locations of SIM card vending machines at major airports (example)

【Narita International Airport】

  • 1st Floor of Terminal 1 Building, 1st Floor of Terminal 2 Building

【Haneda Airport】

  • 3F, Terminal 3 Building

【Kansai International Airport】

  • 1F, Terminal 1 Building

【Chubu Centrair International Airport】

  • 2F & 3F, Terminal 1 Building, 1F, Terminal 2 Building

【New Chitose Airport】

  • International Terminal Building

3. Electronics Retail Stores (Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, Yamada Denki, etc.)

Places to buy SIM cards in Japan 3. Electronics Retail Stores

If your prepared SIM card suddenly stops working while you're out and about, you can rely on electronics retail stores like Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, and Yamada Denki.

Not only do they have a wide range of products, but they also have stores in major cities across the country, making it easy to drop by while traveling. Many of their stores in urban areas have staff who can speak Chinese and English. They provide advice and support on how to choose and set up your SIM card, so if you have any problems or questions after purchase, you can consult with them immediately.

If you accumulate points or use tax-free coupons, you can shop even more economically.

👉 For a coupon that gives you up to 17% off at Bic Camera, click here!

Examples of electronics retail stores that sell SIM cards for tourists visiting Japan

4. Physical stores of telecommunications companies (Softbank Shop)

SIM cards for tourists visiting Japan can also be purchased from the physical stores of SoftBank, one of Japan's major mobile carriers. It's called "Prepaid SIM for Travel".

There is only one type available, which allows you to use up to 3GB of data communication for 31 days. Although setup and procedures are required before use, the steps are written in English on the accompanying card, and store staff will assist you if needed, so even those who are not good at setting up can start using it smoothly.

Don't forget to bring your original passport when purchasing.

【Prepaid SIM for Travel】

5. Convenience Stores (FamilyMart, Seven-Eleven, NewDays)

Places to buy SIM cards in Japan 5. Convenience Stores

If you urgently need a SIM card during the night and there are no electronics stores or carrier shops open nearby, one option is to look for one at a convenience store.

As of May 2024, the convenience store chains that sell prepaid SIM cards for foreign tourists are only FamilyMart, Seven-Eleven, and NewDays. However, the areas and stores that handle tourist SIM cards are limited, so make sure to check in advance if they are available at a nearby store.

Convenience stores that handle SIM cards for foreign tourists (example)

【FamilyMart (only in Kanto and Kansai regions)】

【7-Eleven (Narita Airport Terminal 2 B1F)】

【NewDays (only at selected stores)】

There are many ways to get a SIM card in Japan!

In Japan, there are many ways to get a SIM card, from the airport to stores in the city. If you suddenly need a SIM card during your trip, don't panic and try to find one at a nearby store.

💡Tourist TIPS

If you don't want to panic on arrival, it is recommended to pre-purchase a SIM card on an online sales site! Choose a product that can be shipped to your home in the target country or can be picked up at the airport for a smooth experience.

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