The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (2024)

eSIMs are perfect for traveling. Worrying about SIM trays or losing tiny 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, here’s a summary of what we found when we tested the eSIMs:
If you’re curious, here’s how we tested the Japan eSIMs.

ProviderAvg Speed ▼/▲ MbpsPackagesHighlightWhere to buy

The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (1)
24.76 ▼ 18.55 ▲8-31 days
1-100GB
Best value for heavy data usage: 50 GB / 16 days only ¥3,900
Visit website

The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (2)
83.47 ▼ 17.9 ▲7-30 days
1-20GB
Good value plan: 20 GB / 30 days US$22.99
Visit website

The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (3)
38.27 ▼ 11.16 ▲3-90 days
0.5GB to unlimited
3 days with 2GB per day for US$8.99
Visit website

The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (4)
141.6 ▼ 10.53 ▲7-30 days
1-20GB
20GB / 30 days US$26.00. 10% discount for our readers. Fastest download speed. Visit website

The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (5)
73.72 ▼ 6.67 ▲1-30 days
0.5-50GB
10 GB / 30 days US$17.00. Easy top up. Visit website
The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (6) 99.15 ▼ 15.35 ▲3-15 days
0.5GB-unlimited
Plans from just US$4.50.
Visit website

The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (7)
84.46 ▼ 24.62 ▲3-90 days
1-50GB
Trusted local provider. Allows top up. See options
Visit 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.

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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.

Mobal eSIMs: Best for emergencies and heavy data users

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 100GB, 31-day eSIM for ¥8,000. 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.

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 in Japan, the voice + data eSIM cannot be emailed to customers; your access code will need to be posted to your residence overseas, or otherwise picked up in person in Japan. 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.

Saily: Excellent value for 20GB

Price-wise, the 20GB Saily eSIM for Japan can’t really be beaten. Saily comes from the well-established tech company NordVPN, and uses UK network 1GLOBAL, with local roaming via NTT Docomo.

Our Saily eSIM was ready for download instantly, and activation was made foolproof with their dedicated Android/iOS app, which walks you through the set-up process. Speed-wise, Saily performed well with a strong 5G signal at most of our testing locations; video streaming and calls were all flawless.

eSIM Japan: Affordable, reliable and easy

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.

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RakuRaku Japan eSIM — Lightning-Fast Speeds On a Reliable Network

Limited-time offer: Use the coupon code “cheapo” for 10% off all RakuRaku eSIM products. Choose from 3GB to 100GB plans, tailored to your needs. Hassle-free activation.

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.

Airalo: Good performance from a trusted brand

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

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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.

Ubigi: Solid performance with easy order and setup process

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: Good speed from a trusted Japanese provider

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.

Sakura Mobile: Trusted local Japan provider

An established SIM and wifi provider that’s popular with people staying in Japan both short and long term, Sakura Mobile also has a line of eSIMs. Prices scale depending on how long you’ll be staying (up to a maximum of 90 days), and how much data you want. Their cheapest option — a 3-day, 1GB data-only travel eSIM, costs ¥2,100.

We tested the 3-day, 3GB data-only eSIM, which cost ¥2,750. There was no option to install it directly through the Sakura Mobile website; the QR code and instructions were emailed to us. The user interface was a little clunky, but we managed to get the eSIM set up in under 15 minutes. We didn’t need to activate roaming to use it.

In terms of performance, Sakura Mobile’s download speeds averaged 84.46Mbps, although they varied significantly across test platforms. Video playback as well as calling was smooth, though, and we were satisfied with the overall performance.

eSIMs with unlimited data

A number of providers offer plans for heavy data users, such as business travelers and remote workers. See our dedicated comparison of Japan eSIMs with unlimited and nearly unlimited data.

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. We also recommend taking a look at mobile wifi rental for Japan, to compare options.

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 both Mobal and Sakura Mobile experiencing severe throttling on the initial test day, we have used the data from the second day for their eSIMs. We also tested Saily during a later session, but followed the same method (using the Ookla speed test app, checking streaming and calling, and so on).

The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (8)

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 everything is correct, information is subject to change. Prices are approximate. This post was first published in October, 2020 and was last updated by Chris Kirkland on June 3rd, 2024.

閱讀中文版本:日本 eSIM 推薦大集合 – 實測比較一覽

Written by:Shyam Bhardwa

Filed under:Internet

Tags:

  • Esim
  • Sim cards
  • Technology
  • Tourists
The Best eSIMs for Visiting Japan — Tested and Compared | Tokyo Cheapo (2024)

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