eSIM or Pocket WiFi which one is better for Traveling Japan?

If you are planning a trip to Japan, you might be considering whether to buy a SIM card or eSIM, or rent a Pocket WIFI.
In Japan, free Wi-Fi is not very usable, so to stay connected to the internet during your stay in Japan, you need to either purchase a SIM card or eSIM, or rent Pocket Wi-Fi.
Both are convenient and recommended.

Japan has a unique network environment.
Considering this situation, which one is better in Japan?

Let’s use the internet in Japan in a way that suits your travel.

The big difference between Pocket Wi-Fi and eSIM/SIM card in Japan

Data Communication quality

eSIMs and SIM cards made for short-term visitors to Japan are mostly provided by MVNOs, and the speed decreases during congested hours.
Also, the communication speed tends to decrease when you go to places with many people.

On the other hand, Pocket Wi-Fi is provided by major telecommunications companies, so the bandwidth is designed to prevent the communication quality from decreasing as much as possible during congested hours and in places with many people. Therefore, if you use Pocket Wi-Fi, you can maintain stable communication.

The communication quality of Pocket Wi-Fi is more stable and faster.
If you need the internet for work in Japan, you should rent a Pocket WIFI.

Data capacity

Most eSIMs and physical SIMs are designed for short-term stays in Japan and do not offer much data capacity. 30GB and 50GB plans have been available for some services since around 2023, but most services offer only 10GB to 15GB.
On the other hand, Pocket Wi-Fi is designed to connect multiple devices to the Internet, so many services have large data capacities of 50GB, 100GB, or 200GB.

Referencing this article, it seems that most people have no problem with 1GB per day,
How much data usage is needed for a trip to Japan? Pocket Wi-Fi or SIM card (eSIM)?
if you are going to stay in Japan for 15 days, for example, I think it would be no problem if you purchase a plan for an eSIM or Prepaid SIM card of about 15GB.
If you are going to use it on multiple devices or with multiple people, Pocket Wi-Fi has more data capacity, so it’s reassuring.
eSIM for visitors to Japan


For personal use (one smartphone)

eSIMs and physical SIM cards are used on smartphones. There are many people who just need one smartphone to connect to the internet.
For those people, purchasing an eSIM or SIM card is a good deal.
If your smartphone can tether, you can also connect other devices to the internet and use them, but the price will be higher for large-capacity plans for eSIMs and SIM cards.

For use with family or friends (multiple devices)

Pocket Wi-Fi is designed to connect multiple devices to the internet, so if you want to use the internet on multiple devices (smartphones, laptops, etc.) with family or friends, Pocket Wi-Fi would be better.

Pocket WiFi vs eSIM/SIM card, what is the difference in Japan?

If you want your data plan to connect to while traveling Japan, without paying roaming, then Pocket WiFi and eSIMs/SIM card will help you sort this out. However, each option has significant differences, as you’ll see in the following comparison table:

Pocket WiFieSIMSIM card
Internet without roaming chargesYesYesYes
install and settingNoYesYes
Easy to UseYesYesYes
*Internet connection sharingYesYes / NoYes / No
Immediate deliveryNoYesNo
Shipping costsYesNoYes
Fee in case of lossYesNoYes
Quality data communication⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐☆☆⭐⭐⭐☆☆
Large Amount Data⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐☆☆⭐⭐⭐☆☆

Interenet Connection Sharing(HOTSPOT)

Pocket Wi-Fi

Pocket Wi-Fi is designed for use by multiple devices and multiple people, so with one device, you can use the internet on smartphones, computers, and the smartphones of family members or friends.

eSIMs or SIM cards

eSIM and SIM cards may not allow tethering depending on the service. In addition, the tethering function of your smartphone may be disabled.

If you are considering using HOTSPOT (tethering) on your smartphone, please check two points before purchasing an eSIM or SIM card: whether tethering is possible with the eSIM or SIM card, and whether the tethering function is enabled on your smartphone.

After purchase, most services will not accept refunds for eSIM/SIM cards due to the inability to use HOTSPOT (tethering).

What cases are eSIMs, SIM cards, and Pocket Wi-Fi best suited for?

eSIM or SIM card

If you only need to communicate with your smartphone while traveling in Japan, you should purchase an eSIM or SIM card.
eSIM for visitors to Japan

Pocket Wi-Fi

If you want to connect multiple devices to the Internet at the same time, or if you want to be able to use the Internet with all your family and friends, it is better to rent a Pocket Wi-Fi as it is expensive and time-consuming to buy and set up eSIMs or SIM cards for all your smartphones.
Also, if you need stable communication for work, rent a Pocket Wi-Fi.
Pocket Wi-Fi for visitors to Japan

← How to buy from Amazon in Japan and pick up at the hotel


I am Japanese and my nickname is Momo. I have been working in the mobile telecommunications industry for about 7 years and am familiar with Japanese telecommunications services. Although my English is not very good, I would like to provide useful telecommunication-related information to those who stay in Japan as accurately as possible.

What to Read Next