The Best eSIM to Use When Travelling to Japan

The Best eSIM to Use When Travelling to Japan

Say goodbye to pricey roaming plans!

Japan is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations according to the World Bank. In 2019, this country received more than 30 million foreign visitors! Despite this, when you arrive in this country you may face several challenges, starting with contacting your family or loved ones at home.

Although phone companies offer roaming services to continue using the domestic SIM in this country, connecting to the internet with data roaming in Japan can be quite costly. Therefore, we’re going to tell you about one of the best options that exist to travel connected: eSIMs.

There are different types of eSIM on the market: travel eSIM, prepaid and postpaid. In this post, we will explain each of these options and their features so that you can choose the one that best suits your trip to Japan.

Also read: Best eSIM to Travel to the UK in 2022

What is an eSIM?

Image credit: Clay Banks

An eSIM is the evolution of SIM cards, which can be installed virtually on a smartphone or another device. This chip can be downloaded and activated by scanning a QR code. It allows you to connect to the internet network services in Japan without having to remove your local SIM.

In other words, the eSIM allows you to convert your cellphone into a Dual SIM device and access the internet, without the need to take added devices with you on your trip.

Why is an eSIM necessary in Japan?

An eSIM  to travel to Japan is necessary for the following reasons: 

  • It provides a more secure network connection 
  • You avoid paying for international roaming
  • Buying a local SIM card in Japan is not needed
  • You can have the internet on your cellphone as soon as you land.

In addition, by having an eSIM to travel to Japan beforehand, you don’t need to look for a store that sells a chip for travelers or customer service in your language.

What cell phones are compatible with eSIM?

  • Since the iPhone XR and XS were released, all later models are compatible with virtual cards, including the new iPhone 14 in its different varieties.
  • As for Samsung, it only has a few models compatible with eSIM, and they are Samsung Galaxy S20 onwards, Galaxy Fold onwards, Galaxy Note 20 onwards, and Galaxy Z Flip onwards. 
  • As for Huawei, the cellphones that are compatible with virtual SIMs are Huawei P40, P40 Pro, Mate 40 Pro, and recent versions.
  • If we talk about Google Pixel, the models compatible with eSIM are Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel 3, 3A, Pixel 4, 4 XL, 4A, 5, and their most recent versions.
  • As for the Oppo brand, the only compatible models are: Oppo Find X3 Pro and Oppo Reno 5A, but not Oppo Find X5 Lite. 
  • Motorola has not pursued on developing cellphones with the physical chip slot. Meanwhile, the compatible models are Razr (2019 onwards) and Razr 5G (dual SIM).
  • There are other brands with cellphones compatible with eSIM, such as the case of Gemini PDA, Rakuten Mini, Sony Xperia 10 III Lite, Sony Xperia 1 IV, Rakuten Big-S, and Rakuten Big.

The best eSIM data plans for Japan

Image credit: Su San Lee

Those who have already used an eSIM to travel to Japan know that several providers offer this service. But very few offer the expected quality. For this reason and to help you decide, we’re going to tell you about the most recognized ones: Holafly, NTT Docomo, and Softbank.


Holafly is an eSIM card store for people traveling around the world. So far, it has coverage in more than 150 destinations.

The Holafly eSIM for Japan includes an unlimited data plan and can be purchased online from the comfort of your home. With this card, you have no limitations to using your apps or consulting the map at a fixed price. This product offers an internet connection in Japan. Therefore it’s not possible to send SMS or make calls.

Advantages of using a Holafly eSIM for Japan

  • Offers prepaid plans with unlimited data from $19 USD.
  • You don’t have to register or submit documentation to buy it.
  • Easy configuration and activation.
  • The eSIM is sent immediately after purchase.
  • You can continue using the same WhatsApp number.
  • You have customer service available 24/7 in English via chat on your website or via WhatsApp.

Features not included in the Holafly eSIM

With the Holafly eSIM to travel to Japan, you can’t make calls or send text messages. But you can do so with WhatsApp and Skype.

Unlimited cellular data is only available for the cell phone where the eSIM is activated. That is, you can’t share the internet with other devices.

NTT Docomo eSIM

This is one of the most important providers in the country, in terms of telecommunications. In addition, it’s one of the world leaders in terms of 3G, 4G, and 5G networks. Docomo offers data plans with its eSIM, which can be purchased online, although it requires a long process and identity verification.

Advantages of using an NTT Docomo eSIM for Japan

  • eSIM is available for locals and foreigners.
  • In addition to the internet, you can buy minutes to make calls in Japan.
  • Offers cellular data from 20 GB to 100 GB.

Considerations relating to the NTT Docomo eSIM for Japan

  • Their plans are for one month.
  • It doesn’t guarantee the operation of your eSIM in cellphones purchased in other stores.
  • You have to communicate in Japanese.
  • You need to verify your identity or go through the KYC process.
  • Currently, it only supports payment by mostly Japanese credit cards and bank transfers.

Softbank eSIM

Softbank is a Japanese company that provides telecommunications and internet services to the entire country.  This company sells phones, SIMs, and eSIMs. 

The virtual card of this company can be purchased from the website and has the 4G Data Prepaid service, without a minimum subscription contract, through which you can access the Softbank network without additional charges, as long as you have an iPad with an integrated eSIM.

Advantages of using a Softbank eSIM for Japan

  • Allows you to get a Japanese phone number.

Other aspects to consider about the Softbank eSIM for Japan

  • To buy an eSIM, you need to go to their physical stores.
  • Softbank’s service is in Japanese.
  • If you change from SIM to eSIM, you can’t recover the SIM line.

How to activate an eSIM for Japan

Image credit: Jezael Melgoza

Here you have a brief explanation of the steps to follow to activate on iPhone and Android devices.

Apple iPhone

If you buy the Holafly eSIM, this is what you should do:  Go to Settings >> Click on Mobile data >> now on Add a new data plan >> scan the QR code >> select the eSIM as default for mobile data > > turn on Data roaming.

The Softbank eSIM card is activated as follows: enter the link that arrives in your email >> log in to the client account >> scan the QR code >> download the eSIM profile >> enter the PIN >> on your cell phone, go to Settings >> Cellular >> activate this eSIM as a default data plan.


The Holafly eSIM for Japan is activated as follows: go to Settings >> Internet networks >> SIM manager >> Add mobile plan >> scan the QR code >> activate the eSIM as main for data >> activate the data and roaming.
In the case of the Softbank eSIM, the steps are: enter the URL they send to the email >> log in to the client page >> scan the QR code >> download the eSIM profile >> go to Settings >> Cellular >> verify that the eSIM is in the Mobile Network section.

Comparison of the eSIM for Japan and other alternatives to connect to the internet

Image credit: Jezael Melgoza

Now, you can see a comparison of the eSIM for Japan and other alternatives to connect to the internet.

eSIM for Japan vs. Prepaid SIM card for Japan

An eSIM is not a physical card, but rather a digital profile that is stored in your phone’s hardware/software. With this chip, you can have a data plan to use at the destination even before you travel. So, it won’t be necessary for you to go around the airport looking for a store to buy a chip.

A prepaid SIM card is a physical card that, when inserted into your phone, connects to the operator’s local network. This implies that the SIM card that you bring from home stops working in Japan. Moreover, you have to look for a local operator that sells eSIM for travelers.

eSIM for Japan vs. Data roaming

eSIM is a chip integrated into the smartphone or cellphone that you can buy with a specific data plan and validity term to use at the destination. Therefore, you’re not going to pay more because when you consume the data plan it stops working.

Data roaming, on the other hand, is when you’re using your cell phone outside the borders of your home country and activating international data services with your local operator. This is good because you use your cell phone as if you were at home. However, when you get back, a bill with hefty fees awaits you, since, in general, cellular operators charge you for each service provided: incoming and outgoing calls and SMS, as well as for the data you use.

Pocket WiFi vs. eSIM for Japan

The eSIM is a virtual card that you activate on your smartphone and gives you internet access from a pre-configured data plan. With this chip, you can continue using your cell phones as usual.

The Pocket WiFi, on the other hand, is a portable device that allows you to connect to the internet from an external cellular data network. This means that, apart from your phone, you’ll need to take with you an additional device. In addition, you have to prevent the battery from going off the charge. Otherwise, you will be offline.

Also read: Best eSIM for Travelling to the United States in 2022

How much cellular data do you need to travel to Japan?

The amount of cellular data you must travel with to Japan is relative, as this will depend on how active you are on social media, as well as the map lookups you make. However, on average, if you’re an average cellular data user, 3 GB may be enough for a week.

Otherwise, it may be convenient for you to have an unlimited data plan and thus not have to worry about data usage.

Which operators are compatible with eSIM for Japan?

If you want to know which operators are compatible with eSIM in Japan, this is the list you need:

  • Au
  • NTT Docomo
  • Rakuten Mobile
  • Softbank

Each of these operators allows eSIM activation on the mobile device, using a QR code. 

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