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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: remjroth on May 19, 2014, 09:14:59 AM

Title: Cellphone in Japan
Post by: remjroth on May 19, 2014, 09:14:59 AM
I'm moving to Japan for a few years. My employer is providing my housing so that isn't a concern. The train system eliminates my need for a car or a bike. I'm having trouble figuring out where to start with a cellphone though. Are there companies similar to Ting or Republic Wireless in Japan? Hopefully someone can help me out.

I'm not planning on making any international calls - Facebook and Skype will take care of that.
Title: Re: Cellphone in Japan
Post by: Kaminoge on May 19, 2014, 09:31:22 AM
I left almost a year ago now but I never found any particularly good bargains (in 5 years there).

I had a Softbank plan but I certainly don't think it was a great deal - then again neither did anything else seem to be. I really needed a phone though, my experience was that it would be very hard to make friends/get socially engaged in Japan without a mobile phone. It's just expected you would have one. One thing that influenced me towards Softbank was the fact that they have certain shops with English speaking staff.
Title: Re: Cellphone in Japan
Post by: JamesAt15 on May 19, 2014, 06:29:10 PM
The main three mobile providers (Docomo, Au, and Softbank) are all very similar in terms of plans and monthly fees. There's some discussion (as anywhere) about who has the best coverage in a particular area, but otherwise I think they're almost identical.

There are MVNO services but I have found it hard to get a handle on how to sign up for them. The best summary I know of is at:

The big three mobile providers will all offer you an unlimited mobile data plus XX minutes of voice for about 7000-8000yen per month. (Say $70-80.) If you don't sign up for a data plan I believe you can get a voice-only plan for 2000-3000yen per month, but then you will be charged per packet for any data you use. Email, texts, and other data services will all lead to packet charges so you would really have to be extremely careful with your data usage to try to keep your monthly cost down. Plus you will probably find as you make friends and acquaintances here that it will be difficult to explain why you don't text or use Line for online chats (or whatever comes along to replace it).

Some of the plans and SIMs covered in the MVNO link above include both voice and a limited amount of data, though usually not at the full LTE network speeds. Again, if you really don't use much data and are careful to keep your usage down, you could probably do well with one of these plans and pay maybe 3000-4000yen per month.
Title: Re: Cellphone in Japan
Post by: remjroth on May 20, 2014, 09:11:16 AM
Thank you for the advice. I did some research before posting and couldn't seem to find anything that appeared to be a good deal. This is confirming that I'm probably going to be resigned to spending much more on a cellphone than I would if I weren't going to Japan. I'll keep searching for a better way and I'll update you guys if I find (and test) something worthwhile.
Title: Re: Cellphone in Japan
Post by: Kaminoge on May 20, 2014, 09:30:21 AM
I'm just chiming back in to agree with James's numbers. I'm pretty sure my plan was about 7000 yen per month. I think you probably just have to suck it up as one of the side effects of living in Japan.
Title: Re: Cellphone in Japan
Post by: JamesAt15 on May 20, 2014, 08:16:19 PM
Hopefully you find something to your liking. If you do, please let us know what you came up with.

On the plus side, it's still slightly retro-trendy to rock a nice old-fashioned flip phone here, so you don't have to go smartphone if you don't want to. ;)