Prestigious apartment and housing search in Yokohama and Tokyo for expatriates and their families.


Get started with Japanese mobile phone!

There is no GSM network in Japan as mobile phones in Japan operate on 3G and 4G network. Therefore, there are choices whether to buy a contract cellphone or SIM card with voice calls to activate your mobile brought from abroad for a domestic use in Japan. Please note foreigners are required to present residence card for contracting as well as registering the SIM card with voice calls.

Only the SIM card with no voice calls(data only) are available for anyone like tourists. Please refer to the details of Data Sim in the other blog article.

It's mandatory to have a residence card that means you need to have a home address in Japan. Therefore, you would need to wait until you lease an apartment or house before purchasing. Moreover you may be also required to have a Japanese bank account but depending on a mobile company.

If you wish to buy a mobile handset in Japan, please choose the one for  unlocked SIM, so called SIM-free type. Otherwise you cannot use your Japanese mobile outside Japan when you leave the country.

There are many SIM cards with voice calls that costs you around 2,000 JPY or less per month but there may be some restrictions for cancellation. As there are many kinds sold from different companies, you might like to go to a store like Yodobashi or Big Camera to ask the shop assistant to explain. You might like to take your Japanese friend to go with just in case!

When choosing contract phones, there are also restrictions for cancellations. You may also like to check the details on things like minimum contract term, cancellation charges. Normal contract cicle is 2 years and the cancellation charges are like approximately 10,000 JPY depending on a mobile company.

If you already know which network most of your friends are with, you should choose the same, as calls within the same network are usually free or cheaper.

The major mobile phone companies are AU, Softbank and NTT DoCoMo that probably has the widest network in Japan as some others borrow their network in remote areas.

Newer ones are like Ymobile and Freetel. Please refer to each website for further details, however Ymobile is the only one doesn’t have the English website.

Here are links to mobile companies for further details.

NTT Docomo




F.Y.I (those links may be useful)