eSIMs are perfect for traveling. Worrying about SIM trays or losing microscopic SIMs between the sofa cushions is finally a thing of the past! What’s more, the Japan eSIM market has exploded, with a wide range of offerings from both domestic and international players. To help you choose the best eSIM for your trip, we tried out all the eSIMs that we could get our hands on.

Japan eSIMs tested and compared

First, a quick summary of what we found when we tested the eSIMs:
If you’re curious, here’s how we tested the Japan eSIMs.

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ProviderMain NetworkPrice RangeAverage Speed (Download/Upload) MbpsDelivery Method/TimeWhere to Buy
China Mobile HK/Roams to SoftBank/AUUS$3.99to US$26.99 over 3 to 12 days for unlimited data, fixed data plans also available.38.27/11.16Emailed QR code/InstantGo to website
NTT Docomo¥1,920 to ¥4,900 for 8, 16, or 31 days. 1, 3, 30, and 50GB plans, plus voice + data plans24.76/18.55Emailed activation page/15 minutes (*longer for voice + data eSIM)Go to website
Singtel/Roams to SoftBank/AUUS$4.50 to US$26.00 for between 7 and 30 days. 10% discount for Tokyo Cheapo readers. Plans from 1GB to 20GB available141.6/10.53Straight link through to QR code after ordering/InstantGo to website
CSL Hong Kong/Roams to SoftBank/AU¥1,500 to ¥3,765 for between 3GB and 30GB. Valid for 30 days122.7/13.5Emailed QR code/InstantGo to website
NTT Docomo¥360 to ¥9,700, with plans starting from 500MB for a single day to 50GB monthly73.72/6.67Emailed QR code/InstantGo to website
China Mobile/Roams on SoftBank/AUUS$4.50 to US$37.50 for plans between 5 and 20 days. Choose from fixed 3GB to 15GB plans, or daily 500MB to 2GB plans99.15/15.35Emailed QR code/InstantGo to website

What exactly is an eSIM?

It’s a virtual SIM that you can download and install onto your phone directly, so no more fiddly physical SIM cards. Most phones released since 2019 have the option to use an eSIM, with Apple’s US iPhone 14 and 15 being eSIM only. eSIMs are convenient when you want to change your carrier, such as when abroad, as you can connect to a new provider in seconds without removing your existing physical SIM card.

Japan eSIMs for tourists and short-term visitors

Here’s a quick overview of some of the Japan eSIM options for your trip. This is not an exhaustive list; just an introduction to some of the main players in the market.

eSIM Japan

eSIM Japan offers economical data-only plans for visitors to Japan. Their plans come in two varieties: a general Japan plan, and city-specific plans for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and more. They are all the same price, and for all intents and purposes are the same as the general plans. However, all plans work throughout Japan.

When we ordered the 2GB/day Japan Unlimited Pro eSIM, a QR code landed in our inbox immediately, so you can even decide to pick one up while waiting to pick up your luggage at the airport. The time from purchase to use took less than 15 minutes.

The plan begins as soon as you scan the code and install the eSIM. Plans have a set time limit (3, 5, 7, 12, 15, or even 90 days) and a data limit (3GB, 5GB, 10GB, or unlimited), so you can choose a plan that works for the length of your trip. Plan prices vary based on length, from US$3.99 for a basic 3-day plan, to US$26.99 for an unlimited 12-day plan.

eSIM Japan is provided by China Mobile Hong Kong, but roams to Japan’s KDDI au and SoftBank networks (you’ll need to enable roaming to use it). Despite the roaming, it was fairly fast, with a download speed of 38.27Mbps on average. Webpages loaded in a flash, and both video calling and streaming were smooth, with no lags.

Note: If you are in Hong Kong or Taiwan, you’ll need to use real-name registration. Otherwise, no signup is required.

Mobal eSIMs

Popular local provider Mobal recently launched a line of eSIMs for Japan. They sell seven different data-only eSIMs, ranging from a basic 1GB, 8-day eSIM for ¥1,920, all the way up to a hefty 50GB, 31-day eSIM for ¥4,900. They also have a voice and data SIM.

Mobal uses the major Japanese network Docomo, which means that you won’t be roaming. It’s 4G LTE and coverage is countrywide. For activation of the data SIMs, it takes about 15 minutes. We received an email with a link to their service website after 5 minutes. This led us to a page where we waited for our eSIM QR code to be ready for another 10 minutes.

In terms of performance, Mobal is about middle of the pack, at an average of 24.76Mbps. Websites loaded quickly, and video calling was fairly smooth. Overall, it’s a solid, reliable eSIM.

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Mobal voice + data eSIM for Japan

There is also a voice + data eSIM, which has an initial fee of ¥2,970. When you activate your eSIM, you’ll need to choose a monthly plan, ranging from 1GB/month for ¥1,650, to 30GB/month for ¥4,378. There is no minimum contract period, and there are no cancellation fees, making it a viable choice for both travellers and residents alike. You get a real Japanese phone number with this eSIM. We tested out the 7GB plan.

Note: Due to regulations around voice-calling products in Japan, the voice + data eSIM cannot be emailed to customers; your access code will need to be posted to your accommodation in Japan, or otherwise picked up in person. You need to apply in advance, upload an ID document and wait for a delivery. Once you get your package in the mail, you need to activate your Mobal eSIM on the Mobal website. You’ll enter a 32-digit EID, then wait for Mobal to activate your eSIM and provision your new Japanese phone number. Technical support is available via email and a web form, though most questions can usually be solved by having a peek at Mobal’s FAQs page.

Airalo

Special offer: Order through our link and get 10% off. The discount is automatically applied at checkout.

If you’re in the market for speed, Airalo isn’t going to play games with you. Airalo eSIMs roam on SoftBank, one of Japan’s major carriers, offering dependable data on the go. Their Moshi Moshi eSIM line of eSIMs has 7, 15, and 30-day packages. The 7-day package is the bare minimum, with only 1GB of data for US$4.50. The 15-day plan offers 2GB, and at the upper end, the 30-day plans come in 3, 5, 10, and 20GB increments. For those of you who burn through your data, that 20GB package will set you back US$26.00.

Getting the Airalo eSIM took no time at all. We signed up for the 2GB/15-day Moshi Moshi eSIM, and after paying, we were immediately taken to a page with our eSIM QR code waiting. We were 100% good to go within 15 minutes. Note that sign-up is required for this eSIM.

When it came to our speed test, this eSIM left all of its competitors in the dust. Our testing had a lightning fast average download speed of 141.61Mbps. Websites loaded almost instantly, and YouTube videos didn’t stop to buffer once. Even our awkward video calls didn’t make this eSIM break a sweat. If you’re the sort of person who really works your data to the bone, Airalo is a good choice.

Jetpac

Singapore-based eSIM player Jetpac have a range of plans for Japan, starting from 3GB for ¥1,500 and going up to 25GB for ¥3,765. When we did our test, there was also a promotional 1GB plan for ¥150. We opted for the 3GB eSIM, however. Once we had paid, the Jetpac eSIM was provisioned instantly.

When it comes to speed, the Jetpac eSIM was one of the top performers during our tests. Download speeds averaged an impressive 122.7Mbps, and streaming as well as video calling was super smooth.

You need to enable roaming to use the SIM, though once up and running it will roam on the local SoftBank and KDDI networks. Jetpac pushes customers towards their app, but it’s not actually necessary to download it. A nice little perk is that the Jetpac eSIM gives you access to 1,100 airport lounges around the world; you can use them in the event of a flight delay or cancellation.

Ubigi

Ubigi is a global eSIM provider currently offering eSIMs for over 200 destinations. A relatively new name in the Japanese eSIM market, they nonetheless have plans to cover most needs. From economical single day 500MB plans for ¥390 to beefy month-long plans with 50GB of data for ¥9,700, there’s something for all travelers.

Ordering from Ubigi is a snap. Once we paid, we had a QR code emailed to us in seconds. One quick scan, and we were ready to go. Like most others on this list, Ubigi works with NTT Docomo for reliable coverage across Japan. The company behind Ubigi is Transatel, which is actually owned by NTT.

We tried the 3GB Ubigi eSIM. In our testing, we experienced average speeds of 73.72Mbps, and webpages loaded in a flash. YouTube playback was smooth with no buffering, and our video calls were lag-free. Overall, at this price point, Ubigi offers excellent quality and speed that make them a strong contender.

World eSIM

World eSIM is brought to you by Vision Inc. — the folks behind travel wifi name Ninja Wifi. They have nine Japan eSIMs, with various combinations of data and validity periods. We ordered the 3GB/5-day plan for US$8.50, but you can also get 5GB/10-day, 10GB/15-day, and 15GB/20-day eSIMs. If you prefer to get a daily amount of data, there are 500MB/day x 3 days (US$4.50), 1GB/day and 2GB/day options.

Getting our eSIM was straightforward. After signing up on the World eSIM website, we paid and had a QR code sent to our email instantly. A quick scan, and we were ready to go. Download speeds averaged 99.15Mbps, and our streaming was smooth. We found that this was one of the best eSIMs for video calling, during our test. It’s a solid choice, overall.

japan sim cards
No more digging to find these. | Photo by iStock.com/AndreyPopov

Which is better for your Japan trip: An eSIM, or a physical SIM card?

Even with more providers arriving on the scene, the options with physical SIMs are still superior to what you can get with eSIMs. For example, only one of the eSIMs listed here includes a Japanese phone number with calling ability (that’s Mobal). So if you’d like something more inconvenient but with better options, check out our guide to prepaid SIM cards for travel to Japan.

Also, keep in mind that you might need a second device to install an eSIM, as the second will display the QR code for your first device to scan. If you don’t have a second device, you’ll need some help to install the code — perhaps by asking someone to take a photo of your QR code and then scanning it from their phone.

How did we test the Japan eSIMs?

First of all, a disclaimer: Testing the performance of eSIMs is inherently difficult, due to transient network conditions. You can test the same connection, on the same phone, in the same place, twice in a five-minute interval and get two completely different results for speed and latency.

For our most recent test, we rented six identical Google Pixel 7a handsets, and took them to a studio in Tokyo to test out the eSIMs mentioned in this article. While our video producer recorded the tests, our CEO installed the eSIMs and went through the following:

  • Five speed tests, all using the Ookla app and different test servers, assessing the download and upload speeds (we did four tests for upload speeds), as well as latency
  • Watched videos on YouTube to assess streaming capabilities
  • Made short video calls to look for lag

Our CEO then retested some of the eSIMs the following day, at a different location in Tokyo, to compare results. Due to Mobal experiencing severe throttling on the initial test day, we have used the data from the second day for their eSIM.

Testing Japan eSIMS in Tokyo
Photo by Aimee Gardner

Some of the eSIMs had to be run on the same device, meaning that not all tests were simultaneous. We know that our testing method isn’t perfect, but it gave us a good idea of the performance of the different eSIMs. We excluded some eSIMs from the article where we had concerns about the ordering process, performance or pricing.

A word on speed tests: We strongly recommend that you don’t run speed tests with your eSIM, as they BURN through data. A single test could use 300MB or more!

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Prices are approximate. This post was first published in October, 2020 and was last updated by Carey Finn on February 28th, 2024.

去日本旅行的最佳eSIM卡推介

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