While Japan is known for their high-tech products, many restaurants still rely on the more traditional way of taking reservations. They only take bookings via a phone call. Even if they allow you to make a reservation online, a lot of them also require a Japanese phone number. The great news is, as a tourist, getting a Japanese phone number is easy. All you need to do is purchase a Voice + Data SIM card from providers such as Mobal!
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The Benefits of Getting a SIM Card from Mobal
The biggest benefit of purchasing a SIM card from Mobal is your SIM card can be sent to you for FREE in most cases! This means you are connected to Japan’s network as soon as the APN is set up using the free WiFi at the airport or on the train or limousine bus. This way, you can start exploring Japan earlier than others!
Of course, if you prefer to pick up your SIM card from the major airports in Japan, this can be done too. If you want to avoid the potential queue at the airport or need another SIM card when you are in Japan, there are also pick-up points in Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo, Nagoya, Naha, Osaka, and Yokohama.
Ordering a Mobal Voice + Text + Data SIM
Ordering a Voice + Text + Data SIM card from Mobal is easy. All you need to do is visit the SIM card section on their website and scroll down to the Voice + Text + Data SIMs section.
Follow the steps and complete the purchase process. During this process, you will be asked how you want to receive your SIM card.
What Is Required to Purchase a Japan Voice + Data SIM Card
Because Japanese law requires telecommunication providers to collect ID from users of Japan Voice SIM cards to prevent fraudulent usage, you will be prompted to a screen to upload your ID. Rest assured that your ID will be fully encrypted once uploaded.
If you are uncomfortable uploading your ID, choose to pick up your SIM card from one of Mobal’s collection points in Japan. The available free pick-up points can be found at the end of the Mobal SIM card’s webpage HERE.
Uploading Your ID for Mobal to Ship Your Voice + Data SIM to You
Mobal can send the purchased SIM card for free to most countries in the world. If you choose this option, the next step is to provide a photo ID to Mobal. You can upload your ID straight after a purchase is put through. As soon as Mobal receives and verifies your ID, they will ship your SIM card to you.
You can also choose to provide your ID to Mobal later. Once you have put through an order, you should receive 3 emails. The Order Confirmation email also contains a link to upload your ID. So, if your ID isn’t around you when you make the purchase, providing your ID later is also possible.
Once you have uploaded your ID, you should receive an email advising that the upload is successful. It will also tell you how long it will take for the ID to be verified.
In our case, the ID was approved within a day. A few hours after we were advised the ID was approved, an email advising the SIM card had been shipped arrived in our mailbox.
Pick Up Your Mobal to Ship Your Voice + Data SIM in Japan
If you have ordered a Mobal Voice + Data SIM last minute, pick up your purchase on arrival. If you have chosen this option while completing the ordering process, you won’t be prompted to upload your ID.
How Long Does It Take for My Mobal SIM Card to Arrive in the Mail
So now that you have put through your order and uploaded your ID, you must be excited and can’t wait for the SIM card to arrive. But how long does it take for the Mobal SIM card to reach you?
- Free shipping to Japan: 2 – 5 business days
- Free shipping to USD and UK:
- Standard: 2 – 5 business days
- Next business day shipping to the UK will cost you an extra 1,500 yen
- Free shipping to the rest of the world: 8 – 15 business days
We ordered our Mobal SIM card from Australia. It took 8 business days for it to arrive.
Setting Up Your Mobal Account to Activate Your SIM Card
Two of the three emails that you will receive after putting through a purchase are related to setting up your Mobal account.
If you want to set up your account straight away, click the link to set up your password.
If you are like us, who left it till later, the link in the above email would have expired.
But don’t worry. There is another email in your inbox with a link to Mobal’s MyAccount page. You only need to click the forget password button for the system to generate an email to reset your password.
Once you are in Mobal’s portal, click the red “Activate” button for Mobal to activate the SIM card.
You will then be required to choose the plan you wish to purchase.
Note the actual SIM card activation doesn’t take place until a day before or on the activation date you have selected. Once Mobal completes the SIM card activation, you will receive an email advising your Japanese phone number.
We recommend choosing the activation date at least two days before your departure. The SIM card activation requests are processed between 10 am and 7:30 pm Japan time. If you requested activation outside these hours, your SIM will become active the following morning. Usually, the SIM card activation process is completed within 90 minutes.
Please also note there may be delays during busy times.
Setting Up the APN on Your Device
In the same email, you will also find the links to how to set up the APN on your device. This step is essential for your phone to be able to connect to the internet. Phone calls, however, can be made/received once the SIM card is inserted into your phone and is turned on in Japan.
You can complete the APN set-up before your arrival.
Extending Your Japan Voice + Data + Text Phone Plan
After you have sent through an activation request via MyAccount, you should receive an email from Mobal. The email will advise you when the service is automatically disconnected. If you wish to extend your plan, an extension request must be sent before the disconnection date.
For more information on how this can be done, refer to Mobal’s Extending Your Plan Guide.
Our Experience of Using Mobal’s Voice + Data + Text SIM Card
In November 2023, we spent 14 days exploring the Kansai region‘s rural areas. In conclusion, the overall experience is satisfactory. While there are instances that the phone could hardly be connected to the internet while trekking through the mountainous areas, those were times when an internet connection wasn’t required.
Refer to the below for more details about our experience of using Mobal’s SIM card. Note we didn’t test the text message function as we didn’t have any occasion that allowed us to do so.
Mobal’s Voice + Data + Text SIM Card’s Connectivity on Trains
Mobal’s Voice + Data + Text SIM Card always connected us to the internet. We didn’t have any issues where the connection failed.
Mobal’s Voice + Data + Text SIM Card’s Connectivity in Kyoto and Osaka’s Central Areas
We had no issues accessing the internet in Kyoto and Osaka‘s central areas. The average download speed was between 15 and 25Mbps, which allowed us to stream videos smoothly. The average upload speed was around 5Mbps.
Mobal’s Voice + Data + Text SIM Card’s Connectivity Around Kinosaki Onsen, Ine Bay, Amanohashidate, Ōhara, Ōtsu, and Mt. Hiei
Our main focus of the trip was the Kyoto, Hyōgo, and Shiga Prefecture‘s regional areas, including Kinosaki Onsen, Ine Bay, Amanohashidate, Ōhara, Ōtsu, and Mt. Hiei. The internet connection was fast in the town centers, with a download speed tested up to 45Mbps, which is fast.
That said, when we were deep in the mountains, such as the Yokawa area of Mt. Hiei, some parts of the precinct of Nariaiji Temple in Amanohashidate, parts of Ōhara, and the temples in Ōtsu’s deep mountains, our phones could hardly be connected to the internet.
Our Experience With Mobal’s Customer Support Team
The APN configuration is easy for iPhone users. All you need to do is follow the set-up link in Mobal’s email and download the profile. However, if you have an Android phone, the APN needs to be manually configured. Ensure all the steps are followed, including all the APN settings that must be manually entered.
When we first entered the APN details, one of the special characters was entered incorrectly, which prevented our Android device from being able to connect to the internet. Without realizing the error, we sent an email to Mobal’s customer support team, which can take up to 2 business days for a reply.
Our query was sent on a Saturday, and we received a response on Monday (probably because Mobal’s customer support team doesn’t work on weekends and public holidays). Fortunately, we figured out what went wrong beforehand and could use the internet the next day. Otherwise, it would have been inconvenient and frustrating.
Is Pocket WiFi or an eSIM Card a Better Option for Your Next Japan Trip?
If a Japan eSIM card doesn’t sound like the best internet solution for your next Japan trip, consider purchasing a SIM or renting a Pocket WiFi.
Refer to our SIM Card, eSIM, or Pocket WiFi: Which One to Use in Japan article that answers all your questions about how to stay connected to the internet when you are in Japan!