Mobile phone contracts in Japan are expensive!

When you are going to get a mobile phone contract in Japan you probably will be in for quite a surprise. Why? Well it’s pricy. At least when you walk into the next best mobile phone shop and want to set up a contract. But that is not what you should do anyways – more later.

I was used to paying about 10-15 Euros for my contract back in Germany with some free SMS, 1 GB Internet and a view included calls. In Japan though I had no other choice but to go for one of the main providers like NTT Docomo, Softbank or AU. Having been here before I knew already that none of those would accept the mobile phone I brought with me because it’s IMEI would not be registered in Japan. So I didn’t bother getting anything new before I headed here. I went the hard way, got an iPhone from Softbank and payed a fortune for it and the basic contract. Just to give you an example, apart from the phone itself, you have to pay at least 1000yen for the phone contract + 5000yen for unlimited internet (which is mandatory if you get an iPhone or equivalent smartphone) a month. And this doesn’t include any calls, and you are not allowed to tether and and and.

But be relieved, there is now a, no two other solutions!

New Providers are available!

Around 2013-2014 two new providers popped up with much more reasonable plans. One is B-mobile and the other is OCN Mobile One. Both of them use the same area network as NTT Docomo, so you will get a very good nation wide coverage. Whats more, you can use your own mobile phone you brought from your home country. Well there are a few things you have to consider, like 3G and LTE frequencies and off course that it is sim-unlocked, but apart from that, nearly all newer phones (especially iphones) will work in Japan.

About the available plans

Most of the plans those two providers are offering are basic data plans without a phone number, but since the end of 2013 they also offer the following plans with a call service:

B-mobile スマホ電話SIM フリーData

The basic fee is around 1560 yen a month but you will want to add at least 1 GB of high speed internet (340 yen). Otherwise you would be surfing with only 200kbps.

OCN Mobile 音声対応SIM

The basic fee is around 1600 a month for voice service + 110mb of high speed internet a day. Or you can get a similar plan with a 5gb/month option for around 2100 yen.

There might be other plans available by the time to read this post, so make sure to browse the websites and make sure you get the best offer!

What are the downsides?

Well, as you might already have noticed, all is in Japanese. As soon as you switch to English, the mentioned plans won’t be available any more. So you might want to get the help of a friend or Japanese colleague to get your contract set up. But considering the savings, its worth the hassle!

2nd downside is that those providers have no stores and you can order your sim-card or make changes to your contract only over the internet. (at least at the time when I wrote this entry)

But again, considering the savings, those are bearable downsides.

Good luck, and may the bargain with you!

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