Japan is a beautiful travel destination.
However, it is not known for being a cheap place to be.
What you should not do, in many cases, is roam internationally in Japan.
International roaming can be expensive, which is why using local and travel eSIMs is recommended to save money.
And if you get a travel eSIM, you do not have to deal with the SIM card registration bureaucracy and skip the queues in Japan.
How much will a local or travel eSIM for Japan cost you?
You can get an eSIM for Japan for as little as 6 USD, with 1 GB of data for 7 days, up to 99 USD, with unlimited data for 90 days, from Airalo (Moshi Moshi), Holafly & Nomad.
Those are some generous data allowances, right?
And you can even get unlimited data if you want.
See how much it would cost you to use 10 GB while roaming – much more than what Holafly would charge you for unlimited data for 90 days!
In this guide, I will go over the eSIM options offered by the Japanese mobile operators, Airalo, Holafly & Nomad. Let's do this.
Original publication: 12th of September 2022. Last updated: 13th of September 2022.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Travel eSIMs for Japan
To get the best service available, in terms of reception and speeds, you want to go with the local mobile operators directly instead of with a travel eSIM.
That is because you will have a higher priority on the network in case of network congestion.
However, that does not mean travel eSIMs will always be slow.
In fact, some mobile operators throttle (prepaid) on select plans or all plans for “optimization” reasons (read: we cannot be bothered to invest in our network).
You have several options for getting an eSIM for your trip to Japan: You can choose from Airalo (with Moshi Moshi), Holafly & Nomad.
Not only can you set up these eSIMs before arriving in Japan and activate them upon landing, but you can also avoid Japan's SIM card registration scheme, which is mandatory for anyone using Japanese SIM cards and eSIMs.
While mobile data is already affordable in Japan, getting a travel eSIM will not break the bank – not at all.
Plus, I have plenty of experience with Airalo, Holafly & Nomad, and I can assure you they work well – and other Phone Travel Wiz readers also had pleasant experiences with them.
So let's see what these travel eSIM providers have to offer in Japan, right?
Airalo eSIMs for Japan (Moshi Moshi)
If I could only get a travel eSIM during my trip because I do not have the time or opportunity to buy a local SIM card or eSIM, then I would always get an eSIM from Airalo.
Airalo has eSIMs for around 190 countries, offers eSIMs at the lowest prices (on average compared to the competition) & has good service.
Airalo usually partners with the local mobile operator with the best coverage, the fastest speeds, or both.
And if it needs to partner up with multiple mobile operators, it does so, allowing you to have the best reception at all times.
Anyway, you can get a Moshi Moshi eSIM for as low as 6 USD, with 1 GB of data, up to 14 USD, with 3 GB of data.
Those prices and data allowances are not too bad, right?
Especially knowing that the Moshi Moshi eSIM uses the AU Japan network.
The following two Japanese Moshi Moshi eSIM options are available:
- Japanese/Moshi Moshi 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 6 USD
- Japanese/Moshi Moshi 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 14 USD
For Airalo eSIMs, the links above will automatically get you the Phone Travel Wiz exclusive offers available – a code is not necessary.
- Check out my Airalo eSIM reviews
Overall, the Moshi Moshi eSIM gives you fantastic value for your money.
Airalo Moshi Moshi eSIM Pros
Are there any other reasons why you should get the Moshi Moshi eSIM for your trip? For sure:
- You can activate your Moshi Moshi eSIM as soon as you land in Japan
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to AU Japan network
- Moshi Moshi eSIMs are affordable (especially compared to roaming) and have generous data allowances
- You do not have to worry about SIM card registration with the Moshi Moshi eSIM, saving you time
- Out of data? You can simply top up online on the Airalo website and not worry about language barriers when dealing with local agents
There are many other small pros, but these are the major ones.
It would be disingenuous not to mention some cons, so here we go.
Airalo Moshi Moshi eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get the Moshi Moshi eSIM?
- The Japanese mobile operators, including AU itself, have much more generous data allowances
- While you get access to AU Japan's network, your speeds will not be as fast as going with AU Japan itself because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- There is no 5G NR access with the Moshi Moshi eSIM (yet)
- You cannot call or text with the Moshi Moshi eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
Airalo Moshi Moshi eSIM Overall Thoughts
Honestly, the Moshi Moshi eSIM is fantastic.
The plans offered with Moshi Moshi eSIMs are generous and affordable.
You get fast speeds and access to AU Japan network, without standing in queues or dealing with SIM card registration bureaucracy.
And everything, purchasing and topping up, can be done online on the Airalo website or Airalo app (downloading the app is recommended).
Unfortunately, you cannot call or text with the Moshi Moshi eSIM, as it is a data-only eSIM.
But if you do wish to make actual calls, so not through apps like Whatsapp, getting a Japanese SIM card will not work because travelers are not allowed to buy a voice-enabled SIM card for some weird reason 🤷🏿♂️.
Nomad eSIMs for Japan
Another travel eSIM provider I recommend is Nomad.
In fact, I have been in close contact with Nomad as soon as I partnered up with them.
For example, upon my recommendation, it started offering the Nordics regional eSIM – an eSIM that can be used in Denmark, Finland, Sweden & Norway.
Yes, I really try to get the best offers and deals for you 🥰.
Another thing I have been pushing Nomad for, and Airalo and Holafly (to be discussed next) for that matter, is lowering its prices or increasing its data allowances.
In June, Nomad started offering a 2 GB eSIM variant upon my request for Japan and various other Asian countries (because Phone Travel Wiz readers asked for such an eSIM) at competitive prices.
In August, Nomad dropped its prices again for its China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand & Vietnam eSIMs (which are even cheaper than Airalo – that is remarkable on its own!).
So yes, Nomad is looking out for you 👁👁.
Anyway, in Japan, it uses the Truphone network, which uses a combination of local networks (NTT Docomo, AU Japan, SoftBank & Rakuten Mobile), allowing your eSIM to switch to the network with the best reception automatically.
This way, you will always be connected!
You have the following five options with Nomad for Japan:
- Japan 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 6 USD/6.50 EUR/5.50 GBP/8 CAD
- Japan 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 15 USD/15.50 EUR/13 GBP/20CAD
- Japan 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 17 USD/17.50 EUR/15 GBP/22.50 CAD
- Japan 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 50 USD/50.50 EUR/43 GBP/65.50 CAD
- Japan 20 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 69 USD/69.50 EUR/59 GBP/90 CAD
Even though Nomad dropped its prices for Japan eSIMs, you can still get 3 USD off your first Nomad purchase by using code ADU123!
- Check out my Nomad eSIM reviews
Of course, going with Nomad has some pros and cons, so let's go over them.
Nomad Japan eSIM Pros
So, why should you get a Nomad eSIM? Because:
- You can activate your Nomad Japan eSIM as soon as you land in Japan
- You do not have to worry about SIM card registration, saving you time
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access on all Japanese networks, allowing you to have the best reception at all times
- You can avoid expensive international roaming fees
- Out of data? You can simply top up online on the Nomad website and not worry about language barriers when dealing with local agents
But it is not all good news with Nomad though – there are some disadvantages.
Nomad Japan eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get the Nomad Japan eSIM?
- The Japanese mobile operators have much more generous data allowances and cheaper plans
- While you get access to eight networks, your speeds will not be as fast as going with the Japanese mobile operators themselves because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- There is no 5G NR access with the Nomad Japan eSIM
- You cannot call or text with the Nomad Japan eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
Nomad Japan eSIM Overall Thoughts
Overall, the Nomad Japan eSIM is a great premium eSIM offering with the lowest prices in this guide.
You will always have the best reception because the Nomad Japan eSIM automatically switches to the best network at your location.
However, just like the other travel eSIMs mentioned in this guide, you do not get a (local) phone number with the Nomad Japan eSIM.
But you can get up to 20 GB of data.
Luckily, you can top up your Nomad Japan eSIM with more data if you want.
Holafly eSIMs for Japan
The last travel eSIM provider I recommend is Holafly.
In June 2022, Holafly introduced something that no other travel eSIM provider had done by that time.
You can now get unlimited data plans for Japan, several other Asian countries, almost all European Union member states (except for Liechtenstein) & a few other countries, like Canada and the United States.
And that is super exciting!
Now, I have to say that the unlimited data plans offered by Holafly are more expensive than the Airalo Japan eSIM or the eSIMs sold by Nomad.
But if you do not want to worry about data allowances, Holafly is the one to go for.
The Holafly eSIMs use the NTT Docomo network – the best mobile operator in Japan (coverage and speed-wise)
You have the following seven Japan eSIM options with Holafly:
- Japan unlimited data eSIM for 5 days, costing 19 USD/19 EUR/19 GBP
- Japan unlimited data eSIM for 10 days, costing 34 USD/34 EUR/29 GBP
- Japan unlimited data eSIM for 15 days, costing 47 USD/47 EUR/44 GBP
- Japan unlimited data eSIM for 20 days, costing 54 USD/57 EUR/49 GBP
- Japan unlimited data eSIM for 30 days, costing 64 USD/69 EUR/59 GBP
- Japan unlimited data eSIM for 60 days, costing 84 USD/87 EUR/77 GBP
- Japan unlimited data eSIM for 90 days, costing 99 USD/99 EUR/87 GBP
Based on the emails I have received, the 20-, 30- & 60-day plans are popular because those who buy Holafly eSIMs tend to stay in Japan for a prolonged period to explore the country.
As I recently started my collaboration with Holafly, you can get 5% off each purchase whenever you use code PHONETRAVELWIZ – awesome, right?
- Check out my Holafly eSIM reviews
Of course, there are some pros and cons with going with Holafly, so let's go over them.
Holafly Japan eSIM Pros
So, why should you get the Holafly eSIMs? Well, because of the following:
- You can purchase and set up your Holafly Japan eSIM before arriving in Japan (and activate it upon landing)
- You do not have to worry about SIM card registration, saving you time
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access on the NTT Docomo network – the best in Japan
- You do not have to deal with data caps because you get unlimited data (100 GB – here I come!)
- You can avoid expensive international roaming fees
But it is not all good news with Holafly though – there are some disadvantages.
Holafly Japan eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get a Holafly Japan eSIM?
- While the Japanese mobile operators do not offer unlimited data plans (yet), their plans are much cheaper than Holafly
- While you get access to the NTT Docomo network, the best in Japan, your speeds will not be as fast as going with NTT Docomo itself because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- There is no 5G NR access with the Holafly eSIM
- You cannot call or text with the Holafly eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
- Holafly is the most expensive travel eSIM provider in this guide
Holafly Japan eSIM Overall Thoughts
Overall, the Holafly Japan eSIM is an excellent eSIM for those who do not want to deal with data caps because you get unlimited data.
Even then, you will still get fast speeds and 4G/LTE reception.
However, Holafly is the most expensive option in this guide and may not be the best for budget travelers.
Best eSIMs for in Asia (not just Japan)
Unfortunately, you cannot use your Airalo Moshi Moshi, Holafly Japan, or Nomad Japan eSIMs in any country than Japan.
However, the three eSIM providers have eSIMs covering several East Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
I highly recommend these Asia/APAC eSIMs if you plan to visit multiple East- and Southeast Asian countries to save money!
Airalo recently heavily improved its Asia eSIM, which used to offer a meager 4 GB of high-speed data before allowing for unlimited data at snail speeds, following the popular Eurolink eSIM for 39 European countries.
The Eurolink eSIM is the most popular eSIM for Phone Travel readers, and I have no doubt that the Asialink eSIM will be popular too.
Just like in Europe, many readers tend to visit multiple Asian countries, so they would rather have a travel eSIM covering multiple countries than just one (like Japan).
The Asialink eSIM can be used in the following 14 countries:
Below is an overview of how much each Asialink eSIM costs:
- Asia/Asialink 1 GB eSIM for 1 day, costing 5 USD
- Asia/Asialink 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 13 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 20 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 37 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 50 GB eSIM for 90 days, costing 100 USD
- Asia/Asialink 100 GB eSIM for 180 days, costing 185 USD
Holafly & Nomad eSIMs for Japan
Because of Airalo's previous Asia eSIM, I used to recommend Nomad's APAC eSIMs instead (to be used in 8 countries).
This eSIM can be used in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore & Thailand (1 GB/7 days/15 USD – 20 GB/30 days/69 USD).
The Holafly Asia eSIM has only one variant: 8 GB for 30 days, costing 47 USD/49 EUR/34 GBP.
This eSIM can be used in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam.
Basically, the same countries as the Airalo Asialink eSIM with just fewer options (1 variant (8 GB) vs. 6 variants (1 GB/3 GB/5 GB/10 GB/50 GB/100 GB) and much more expensive.
So yeah, the Asialink eSIM is superior, I would say.
Remember, the Airalo links above will automatically offer you the best deals.
Overview of the Best eSIMs for Japan (Airalo vs. Holafly vs. Nomad)
In this guide, I went over various eSIMs for Japan: Airalo (Moshi Moshi), Holafly & Nomad.
Below is an overview of my recommendation order:
- Airalo's Japan Moshi Moshi eSIM (best value for money)
- Airalo's Asia Asialink eSIM (best value for money when also visiting other East- and Southeast Asian countries)
- Nomad Japan eSIM (excellent performance)
- Holafly Japan eSIM (truly unlimited data plans at premium prices)
- Holafly Asia eSIM (to be used in 13 countries)
Remember to use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for Holafly eSIMs and code ADU123 for Nomad eSIMs – a code is not necessary for Airalo eSIM purchases.
Buying a SIM Card in Japan
Want to just use a SIM card but not your current one because roaming will be criminally expensive?
Consider getting a Japanese SIM card instead – local SIM cards are the cheapest way to stay connected abroad.
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