Best way for over 30 days stay in Japan: Pocket Wifi or SIM Card/eSIM?

People visit Japan for a variety of purposes, such as study or business. In general, tourists who visit Japan tend to stay for around 15 days. However, those who come to Japan for study or business training often stay for more than 30 days.

If you are staying in Japan for more than 30 days, you cannot rely on free Wi-Fi for your daily life. The availability of free Wi-Fi in Japan is limited and often not very useful.

For those staying in Japan for less than 30 days, there are many services that provide SIM cards, eSIMs and Pocket Wi-Fi suitable for short-term stays. However, for those staying longer than 30 days, there are not as many options, except for Pocket Wi-Fi.

In this article, we will introduce services and plans that provide affordable and stable communications for people staying in Japan for more than 30 days.

About Communication Contracts in Japan

Voice Calls

: To obtain a phone number and make voice calls with a smartphone in Japan, you need to provide a Japanese address and payment method, as well as submit identification documents such as a foreigner registration certificate or a residence card. After these are submitted, there will be a review process. If you have a Japanese address, a bank account, and identification documents, you should be able to contract without any problems.

Data Communication

For data-only contracts, submission of identification documents is not necessary. As long as you have a credit card, you can purchase SIM cards or eSIMs, or rent Pocket Wi-Fi.

Suggestions for those staying in Japan for more than 30 days

Before coming to Japan, it would be a good idea to purchase a SIM card or eSIM that can be used in Japan, or reserve a Pocket Wi-Fi rental in advance. Then, after obtaining an address and bank account in Japan during your stay, you can contract a plan that allows voice calls.

Recommended Ways to Use the Internet in Japan

For those staying in Japan for more than 30 days, to have internet access, you might consider purchasing a Prepaid SIM card or eSIM, or renting a Pocket Wi-Fi. But which is better?

Renting a Pocket Wi-Fi

Pocket Wi-Fi can be rented for the exact number of days you need, so if you’re staying in Japan for up to 90 days, I would recommend renting a Pocket Wi-Fi. I believe it’s the best method. Compared to Prepaid SIM cards or eSIMs, Pocket Wi-Fi offers better communication quality, and there are plans available that allow you to use up to 50GB or 100GB of data per month. If you rent one Pocket Wi-Fi, you can connect your smartphone and laptop to the internet.

If you’re renting for a long period, the rental fee can be high, so instead of daily rental plans, it’s better to use services that offer long-term plans. There are few services that allow you to rent Pocket Wi-Fi for about 3 months, but they do exist.

The following service allows you to rent Pocket Wi-Fi at a reasonable price from 3 months:
Long term Pocket Wi-Fi Rental from 3 months

Buy a Prepaid SIM Cards/eSIMs

For those staying in Japan for more than 30 days, Prepaid SIM cards or eSIMs are convenient, but there aren’t many plans that can be used for more than 30 days. For example, if you’re staying for 60 days, it might be a good idea to buy two 30-day Prepaid SIM cards and switch when the first one expires. If you can use eSIM, it’s easy to switch at any time, so eSIM is recommended. However, Prepaid SIM cards and eSIMs may not allow tethering. Also, as mentioned earlier, currently, Pocket Wi-Fi has better communication quality, so if you want to use the internet on devices other than smartphones, it would be good to rent a Pocket Wi-Fi.

4 major telecommunications in Japan

There are 4 major telecommunications operators in Japan: NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank and Rakuten.
With any companies above, if you fulfill their requirements, you can sign a contract for data communication and voice call communication by a mobile phone or by a landline phone.

Short-term contracts are possible, but you will need a Japanese address and bank account to contract to a major telecommunications carrier.
Since it takes several weeks to a month to obtain a Japanese address and bank account, it is difficult to sign a contract with a major telecommunications carrier immediately after visiting Japan.

3 things are required to live in Japan

The following 3 things are required to live in Japan.
Especially, the following 3 things are important to make a telecommunications contract.

  • Housing Contracts in Japan
  • Opening Japanese bank account
  • Japanese credit card

If you can contract 3 things, you will be able to contract the same inexpensive plan as the Japanese.
However , the contracts listed above cannot be obtained at the same time; each must be obtained separately. It may take from a few weeks to 3 months. Be careful not to make any unnecessary communication contracts during this period.

Pocket Wi-Fi is the best option to ensure a stable Internet connection for the first few months of your stay in Japan.

About Fixed-Line and Pocket WiFi

Contract periods of fixed-line telecommunications are mostly 2 or 3 years.
They cost you from around 3,000yen to 5,000yen monthly, and they are stable and high-speed.

However, you have to pay a penalty if the contract is dissolved before expiration, and as for land-line, initial expenses (installation fees and handling charges) are required.

Also, the contract is automatically renewed for another period of the 2 or 3 years.
Their service are reliable, but not flexible.

If you stay in Japan less than 2 years, you may sign a contract of Pocket WiFi for the internet in your room.
Although it will cost lower than fixed-line as a whole because it does not need any installation fees, it still has a penalty for a cancellation during the contract periods, which are normally 2 to 3 years.
 
However, if you choose a rental service of Pocket WiFi, you can be free from such complexity.
There are lots of rental Pocket WiFi services in which you can choose a wide variety of contract periods, and a penalty is never required even if you cancel the contract during its period.
 

Recommended Contract for You
Staying in Japan More Than 30 Days & Less Than 2 Years: Vol.1

This recommendation is for you who want to have a mobile phone with a phone number in Japan, and want a voice call feature.
 
The best way to meet such needs would be a combination of a contract of a voice-call-capable SIM card and renting a pocket WiFi. The SIM card contract alone will be pricey if you use it for home-use, such as watching movies. So, I would like to recommend renting a pocket WiFi router for the data communication in your room.

 

Recommended Contract for You
Staying in Japan More Than 30 Days & Less Than 2 Years: Vol.2

This recommendation is for you who do not need any phone numbers in Japan.
 
Renting a pocket WiFi alone would be the best choice as you can make audio calls only with the data communication by using VoIP apps such as IP phone, FaceTime, and Skype.
 

A Benefit of Renting A Pocket WiFi for Long Term

LightPocket offers a pocket WiFi rental service for long-stay visitors.

Starting from five days, you can set a contract period whatever you like.
No cost for a long term contract. No cancellation fee applies.
And you can extend a contract period from five days.

Furthermore, you get a full refund if you return the device two days after you find out that you are not connected well.