Apr 27, 2014

Acquiring a Data SIM card in Japan

So I asked on Facebook and it seemed like you guys would like to know how to get data service on mobile (for mobile surfing, Facebook, twitter, Skype etc) in Japan. 



Japan is amazingly advanced and backward at the same time. While prepaid cards are prevalent and even predominant in other countries, (In Indonesia, it seemed like a big amount of people uses prepaid phone), in Japan, it's near non-existent (or at least it’s not as visible as the other countries). 
There are a number of ways to get data service or phone service for your mobile in Japan. 

1. Pocket Wi-Fi. It seemed like most of my friends get by with this service and it's the most popular service by far.  The bottom photograph was taken in Ayado Gion Hostel, an awesome hostel in Kyoto that also rents out pocket wi-fi to it’s patrons. The rate stated is 500yen / day and that's pretty reasonable to me if you are going around in a big group and going on a relatively short trip. Then all of you can split the cost of the device. 

2. Mobile Rental. As the name goes, you rent a smartphone from the company and return it after you're done.
3. Data SIM Card. This is my preferred method of communication in Japan. I don't really need to call anyone. Even if I do, I can call via LINE or Skype.
Jumping straight to the meat on the bog entry. I'm going to share with you guys how I got my Data SIM Card in Japan.  Take note though, that this SIM card only allows data transfers. No phone calls can be made. I get my Data SIM card from B-Mobile.

Website: http://www.bmobile.ne.jp/english/
As far as I know, this is the only Data SIM in Japan.   There are 2 types of Data SIM Card; the 1GB prepaid or the 14days prepaid. They work pretty much the same except that one allows you 30 days of use on a 1 GB leash, another gives you unlimited data amount within only 14 days. For more details, click here
This is the order and delivery sequence according to the website. According to the website, you cannot purchase this SIM card anywhere else. However, my first experience with this SIM card was through a purchase in BIC CAMERA (Ikebukuro).  image
There are generally two options here.
OPTION 1) Obviously, you can purchase it from the website and have them deliver it to you. 
For my second experience with this SIM card, I choose to order online and have them delivered to my hotel on the day of my arrival. I choose for them to deliver it a couple of hours before my check-in time and emailed the hotel staffs prior, to inform them to accept the parcel on my behalf.
This is what was delivered to my hotel. The scary red blobs are not blood, it’s my lousy censoring hahhaa.
Ordering online and having them deliver it to your hotel will cost you 4094 yen in total. Selecting for delivery to the airport will cost you an additional 200yen (excluding tax).  This option is good for people who are new to Japan or like me, don't have a lot of time to waste and just want to get my SIM card as fast as possible.  The best thing about this package is that everything is in English and you don’t need any Japanese phone line to activate this card for you.
If you intend to pick it up at the airport, click here for more delivery details. Make sure the Airport Postal Offices are open when you arrive.
Another important thing to note, is that delivery date will be the Service Start Date. Meaning to say, the day you choose to have your product delivered, is the day your SIM card will activate regardless of whether you managed to get it on time or not.

OPTION 2) Another option, is to buy them from BIC CAMERA. BIC CAMERA is a big hardware department franchise in japan and they have outlets everywhere. I bought mine from the Ikebukuro outlet if I'm not wrong.
BIC CAMERA: http://www.biccamera.co.jp/language/langjump-je.html
This is the package that I bought in BIC CAMERA. Looks very different from the delivered to the hotel no xD?
Buying it from BIC CAMERA is cheaper and cost only 3480 yen (take note that this purchase was made when Japan's tax was still only 4%) . However I do have to point out that getting it could be quite the hassle. 
- Firstly it was difficult to find the product in BIC CAMERA's massive departmental store. I suggest you go on a weekday afternoon to avoid the crowd. We found it at the basement floor where all the phone related products were sold. 
- Secondly,this SIM card requires a Japanese phone line to activate it before you can use it. So you need someone else, with a Japanese phone line to activate it for you
- Thirdly, as you can see, everything on/in this package is in Japanese except the page below. Not very foreigner friendly if you ask me. 


I was lucky that when I bought it the first time, a friend who could converse in Japanese was with me. We also got lucky to have managed to find a helpful staff that not only knew the product we were talking about (many staffs had no idea what we were looking for) but also helped me to activate it. I'm not sure if the savings was worth the hassle. 

Lovely Amanda helping me to activate my card by calling with her own Japanese phone line. The helpful staff is beside her XD!
Your phone/device must be Unlocked (SIM Lock Free). And it must support one of the following frequency
- LTE Band 1 (2100MHz), Band 19 (800MHz), Band 21 (1500MHz)
- W-CDMA/HSDPA/HSUPA Band 1 (2100MHz), Band 19 (800MH
For a full list of supported phones and devices , click here.
1. Take the SIM Card and insert that into the SIM Card slot for your phone
2. Enter the following information to your device.
   Settings -> Wireless & Networks -> Mobile Networks -> Access Point Names -> Menu Button -> New APN
   Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Network -> APN
Settings Information:
Name: b-mobile
APN: bmobile.ne.jp
Username: bmobile@u300
Password: bmobile
Authentication Type: PAP or CHAP (if available)
For a detailed instruction by device types, click here.

Hope you guys found this blog entry useful. Remember to comment, subscribe and share! Don’t just keep the good things to yourself :P  Also, apologise if the formatting in this blog entry is crazy, my new blog template wouldn’t show bullets & lists and it’s driving me crazy -_-

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