The first time I visited Japan was in 2018 when I went together with a friend of mine – Ditmar.
It was a hectic summer, as I also visited China a few weeks before and the Netherlands three times (before, between & after those trips – I was living in Denmark back then).
What surprised me is that the Japanese government banned the sale of voice-enabled SIM cards to travelers in 2006 for some reason.
As a result, only data-only SIM cards are sold to visitors like you and me.
Because VoIP (Voice over IP) apps like WhatsApp were already popular back then, it did not bother us that we could not make phone calls.
Since then, a lot has changed – travel eSIMs exist, and they are incredibly popular.
And I love trying them out to see which performs the best in individual countries like Japan.
So I revisited in 2023 and stayed in the Kansai Region (mostly Osaka) and Tokyo (again).
This resulted in me spending more than 480 USD for my Japan SIM card and travel eSIM review series (50 030 JPY (≈ 360 USD) on Japanese SIM cards and 121.50 USD on travel eSIMs to be used in Japan) – yeah… I went all out for you 😎.
In many countries, getting a local SIM card will be the most cost-effective way to stay connected.
But that is not the case in Japan – they are criminally expensive.
Worse, almost all the Japanese SIM cards I tested had speed caps of 2 Mbps, 10 Mbps, or “unrestricted” speed for the first few days (often up to three days) before speeds would drop.
And I am talking about SIM cards that supposedly have no Fair Use Policy (FUP), and promise speeds up to 788 Mbps, or whose FUP I had not hit.
As a result, there is only one Japanese SIM card I recommend – but that one is expensive too.
Travel eSIM providers like Nomad are way cheaper than Japanese SIM cards.
Surprisingly, they performed significantly better – even when roaming on the local networks.
This phenomenon is uncommon but happens in countries where mobile operators throttle (prepaid) speeds.
Because the Nomad Japan eSIM is basically cheaper than any Japanese SIM card available while having a significantly better performance than them, I can already recommend it if your phone supports eSIM.
Throughout this review, you will discover why I think this way, so let's start immediately!
Original publication: 27th of May 2023. Last updated: 19th of September 2023.
Table of Contents
Which Phones are Compatible with Nomad eSIMs?
Before discussing the Nomad eSIM to be used in Japan specifically, you must know whether your phone can even support Nomad's eSIMs.
Unlike most travel eSIM providers, Nomad claims that every eSIM-compatible phone can use its eSIMs.
So that makes things easy 😎.
But the image will still give you an overview of the most popular phones that support eSIM.
As of August 2023, the phones shown in the infographic below are compatible with Nomad eSIMs:
With that out of the way, let's talk more about the Nomad Japan eSIM!
How Much Does the Nomad Japan eSIM Cost?
You can get the Nomad eSIM to be used in Japan for as little as 5 USD for 1 GB (7 days) and up to 125 USD for 50 GB (30 days). Moreover, “unlimited” data plans for one day (9 USD) to seven days (36 USD) are available as of April 2023.
Wait… unlimited data!?
Yes, in March 2023, Nomad had a soft launch for its first unlimited eSIM for the United Kingdom only.
Anyway, do you get truly unlimited data? No – you do not.
When the unlimited data plans were announced, the Fair Use Policy “FUP” did not state the limit.
Only that the mobile operator could throttle your speed @ 512 Kbps if it believes you have used too much data.
Nowadays, the FUP has been clarified, letting you know that you can use 2 GB/day without being throttled.
Is 2 GB/day genuinely unlimited? No, lol.
And I would rather have Nomad rebrand these plans from unlimited to daily plans or something like that.
At least Nomad was not like Holafly, who initially said truly unlimited data, to “up to 90 GB a month”, to reports saying you get throttled after 1 GB to 3 GB in a day, depending on the day and country 🙄.
Anyway, below is an overview of how much each Nomad Japan eSIM costs:
- Japan 1 GB eSIM for 7 days (SoftBank and KDDI), costing 5 USD/5 EUR/4 GBP/7 CAD/4.50 CHF – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Japan 3 GB eSIM for 30 days (SoftBank and KDDI), costing 9 USD/8.50 EUR/7.50 GBP/12.50 CAD/8.50 CHF
- Japan 5 GB eSIM for 30 days (SoftBank and KDDI), costing 13 USD/12.50 EUR/10.50 GBP/18 CAD/12 CHF – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Japan 10 GB eSIM for 30 days (SoftBank and KDDI), costing 22 USD/20.50 EUR/18 GBP/30 CAD/20 CHF – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Japan 15 GB eSIM for 30 days (SoftBank and KDDI – new), costing 28 USD/26.50 EUR/22.50 GBP/38.50 CAD/25 CHF
- Japan 20 GB eSIM for 30 days (SoftBank and KDDI), costing 34 USD/32 EUR/27.50 GBP/46.50 CAD/30.50 CHF
- Japan 30 GB eSIM for 30 days (SoftBank and KDDI – new), costing 80 USD/74.50 EUR/64 GBP/109 CAD/71.50 CHF
- Japan 40 GB eSIM for 30 days (SoftBank and KDDI – new), costing 110 USD/102.50 EUR/88 GBP/149.50 CAD/98.50 CHF
- Japan 50 GB eSIM for 30 days (SoftBank and KDDI – new), costing 125 USD/116.50 EUR/100 GBP/170 CAD/111.50 CHF
Japan 100 GB eSIM for 60 days (SoftBank – new), costing 240 USD/219 EUR/193.50 GBP/325 CAD
Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in September based on data up to the 7th of September (2023 data only).
Here are the five “unlimited” Nomad Japan eSIMs:
- Japan “unlimited” (2 GB) eSIM for 1 day (SoftBank – new), costing 9 USD/8.50 EUR/7.50 GBP/12.50 CAD/8.50 CHF
- Japan “unlimited” (2 GB/day – 6 GB) eSIM for 3 days (SoftBank – new), costing 18 USD/17 EUR/14.50 GBP/24.50 CAD/16.50 CHF
- Japan “unlimited” (2 GB/day – 10 GB) eSIM for 5 days (SoftBank – new), costing 24 USD/22.50 EUR/19.50 GBP/33 CAD/21.50 CHF
- Japan “unlimited” (2 GB/day – 14 GB) eSIM for 7 days (SoftBank – new), costing 28 USD/26.50 EUR/22.50 GBP/38.50 CAD/25 CHF
- Japan “unlimited” (2 GB/day – 20 GB) eSIM for 10 days (SoftBank – new), costing 36 USD/34 EUR/29 GBP/49 CAD/32.50 CHF
Be aware that you cannot use any promo code for any Nomad unlimited eSIM (including ADU123, unfortunately 😔).
If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.
Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).
I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.
Moreover, regardless of which Nomad Japan eSIM you choose (except for the unlimited eSIMs), you can always top it up for the same amount of data and prices as listed above.
Many eSIM providers out there do not allow you to top up or extend the validity of your eSIM, so it is cool that Nomad allows you to do so.
My Nomad eSIM in Japan Experience
I used my Nomad Japan eSIM in Hiroshima, the Kansai region (mostly Osaka, but also Kobe, Kyoto & Nara) & Tokyo Metropolis (mostly Chiyoba City, but also Shinjuku City, Taito City & Yokohama City).
Before we continue, I do want to let you know how travel eSIM providers like Nomad work.
It is impossible for Nomad, or any other mobile operator, to operate in every country (and do not trust any company saying otherwise), so they set up roaming agreements.
What Nomad does, and basically all (actual) mobile operators do, is partner up with a local mobile operator so that their customers can still stay connected when abroad.
In the case of Japan, the Nomad eSIM uses the SoftBank network with the help of JoyTelecom (which is a CSL Mobile subsidiary (from Hong Kong)) – so your phone, some apps, or sites you visit may claim you are using a CSL Mobile eSIM instead of a Nomad one – that is correct).
At that time, you could also get eSIMs on the Truphone network, which used the NTT Docomo network.
Because the Speedtest app always wanted to connect to the CSL Mobile server in Hong Kong, I suspect Truphone works with CSL Mobile in some East Asian countries (including South Korea), but I am unsure.
Note: Nomad does not always use multiple networks.
I say could because Nomad removed all its Truphone plans for Japan.
You are not missing out… they were significantly more expensive than the JoyTelecom eSIMs 😡.
For example, a 20 GB Japan eSIM through JoyTelecom costs 34 USD, while it would cost you 69 USD through Truphone. Crazy!
The Japanese mobile operators are not in the prepaid business for whatever reason, so I mostly used Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) using the NTT Docomo network through another MVNO called IIJmio.
All Japanese SIM cards I used using IIJmio were mostly/always throttled @ 2 Mbps, 10 Mbps, or would start off normally for the first (few) day(s) before being slowed as well.
I go more in-depth about that in my individual Japanese SIM card reviews, but all the travel eSIMs I used, including Nomad's Japan eSIM, were not affected by this nonsense… so that was amazing 🤣.
So while I usually compare my eSIM results with the local mobile operator, it is not something I can do in Japan consistently because all the SIM cards I tried were MVNOs 🥲.
But worry not – I will do my best, mostly because I tried nine travel eSIMs using the networks of the Big Three (NTT Docomo, Softbank & AU by KDDI) with varying results.
When looking at 4G/LTE availability in Japan, the three mobile operators cover practically all of the country, with an availability of at least 99.4%.
Rakuten Mobile exists in Japan too, but tourists cannot get its prepaid SIM cards. Moreover, none of the SIM cards or eSIMs I used were using its network, so I will ignore its results in this analysis.
Japan's 4G/LTE reception is so good that you will unlikely be stuck on 3G at any time.
Unless you did not turn off airplane mode while taking off to send a quick message… I know who you are 😏.
In terms of 5G NR, the Nomad eSIM did not support it when I was in Japan, so I will not go over that for now (but I will go back when it does support 5G NR, like the Ubigi eSIM on the NTT Docomo network).
In terms of speed, NTT Docomo has the fastest download speed, with a median download speed of 48.86 Mbps, ahead of SoftBank (44.77 Mbps) and AU by KDDI (41.60 Mbps).
But these results are somewhat similar, so you can say they have roughly the same speed.
The same can be said about upload speeds, where SoftBank is leading the pack (9.24 Mbps), followed by NTT Docomo (6.97 Mbps) and AU by KDDI (6.40 Mbps).
I did speed tests with the Speedtest app in three regions throughout Japan.
For reference, I consider an average download speed of 25 Mbps and an average of 10 Mbps upload speed fast enough.
Preferably, download speeds should be 100 Mbps+ on 4G/LTE… but we are not there yet 🗿.
But why these averages?
A download speed of more than 25 Mbps is enough to video stream content @ 4k resolution.
Social media sites that allow for live streaming, like Facebook Live, recommend an upload speed of at least 10 Mbps.
So, that is why – but that does not mean that a download speed of less than 100 Mbps excited me 😏.
But Australia spoiled… everything slower than 300 Mbps is slow now 🤣.
Anyway, you will also see that some of the results are in two shades of red, green, underlined, or in italics.
Underlined results are on 5G NR, while results in italics are on 3G.
The green shows that the result was the fastest on the network at said location.
For example, the Airalo Moshi Moshi being the fastest travel eSIM on the SoftBank network in a mall.
While red shows that the result was the slowest on the network among its peers at the location.
Okay, that is enough background information – let's compare the Nomad Japan eSIM to other travel eSIMs primairly using the SoftBank network in Hiroshima and the Kansai region.
And on the NTT Docomo network in Tokyo Metropolis.
Nomad (Truphone) Japan eSIM Speed Test Results in Hiroshima
Hiroshima is mainly known for an incident that happened in 1945.
However, the radiation levels are so low nowadays that they are comparable to other Japanese cities – or most other cites worldwide.
Besides its history, it has much to offer, such as the Hiroshima Castle.
Including this cute variation of the castle.
Hiroshima on its own is worth visiting, although it can be a nice day trip or weekend getaway if you are in the Kansai region (Osaka) already.
While Hiroshima may or may not be among the ten largest cities in Japan (it used to be until the 2010 census – that is when it fell out of it), 5G NR was somehow not available in the city.
However, that technology was nowhere to be found throughout Hiroshima.
As a result, it was a leveling playing field to compare all the Japanese SIM cards and travel eSIMs I used because they all were on 4G/LTE.
For now, let's see how the Nomad Japan eSIM performed in Hiroshima:
Poor speeds with the Nomad Japan (Truphone) eSIM in Hiroshima.
But… how is an average download speed of around 17 Mbps and a median speed of 11 Mbps poor?
I compare the median download speed of a local SIM card or travel eSIM with the global median download speed of the month.
I consider the speeds poor if slower by more than 10 Mbps than the global median.
Yes, I have strict requirements over here 😤.
The global median was 42.07 Mbps in April 2023, as per the Speedtest Global Index, and the Nomad Japan eSIM was slower by more than 10 Mbps (31 Mbps, to be exact).
Moreover, you need a download speed of more than 25 Mbps to video stream content @ 4k resolution.
While you may not stream content at such a high resolution, it is still a good benchmark to see if a SIM card or eSIM is fast enough.
Else, I would have very high requirements of more than 100 Mbps because I am all about speed 🐆.
Now, I understand that I did not get as many results in Hiroshima (seven), making the sample size extremely small.
And that is true – I got more than 30 results in both the Kansai region and Tokyo Metropolis so that more representative analysis can be done.
Unfortunately, Hiroshima was a day trip and was not part of the Kansai region as I initially expected it to be.
So I could not group it with the Kansai region results because… well… it is not part of that region 🗿 (it is part of the Chugoku region instead).
So my apologies – we gotta deal with that I have right now.
In Hiroshima, I used the Truphone eSIM instead of my unlimited data eSIM powered by SoftBank.
JoyTelecom's country-specific and regional eSIMs are practically the same eSIMs – the former are simply geo-blocked.
But as Japan was my first destination using and testing Nomad's new unlimited data plans, I wanted to confirm that speeds were not being throttled compared to the Nomad APAC eSIM (also powered by JoyTelecom).
I was in the Kansai region before Hiroshima.
There, I confirmed the speeds are similar, so I used the Truphone eSIM in Hiroshima and Tokyo Metropolis.
I also test out eSIMs for Nomad to find out any problems. For example, when Nomad started its partnership with JoyTelecom, download speeds were throttled at 42 Mbps, as I explained in my Nomad Hong Kong review. This should not have happened and was fixed. In Singapore, upload speeds were below 1 Mbps. Singtel, the network Nomad uses in Singapore, was having issues. So Nomad and JoyTelecom quickly reached out to StarHub (the second-largest mobile operator there) and signed a deal, allowing you to have a better network experience until Singel fixed their stuff. Yes, I am close with Nomad 😎 but I still mention the issues I faced in my reviews, of course!
Mostly to see how much better or worse Truphone was compared to JoyTelecom.
But all Truphone eSIMs have been removed between when I was in Japan and writing this review 🥲.
COMST Japan was the only Japanese SIM card on the NTT Docomo network (with 5G NR access) I still bothered to use because of the throttled speeds I experienced in the Kansai region (which I was at before going to Hiroshima).
And the TrueMove H Asia travel SIM card as well.
So, how did the Nomad Japan eSIM powered by Truphone perform compared to other eSIMs using the NTT Docomo network?
Alright… but it was the second-worst performer.
The worst was the Simcorner Japan eSIM, with an average download speed of 3.69 Mbps.
But that is because it resells eSIMs from a Japanese mobile operator, which actively throttles speeds.
Even then, the speeds were not that bad.
For example, I got a download speed of 32.34 Mbps at Mitaki station and 37.32 Mbps at a Starbucks called Starbucks Hiroshima Omiya.
Some of the upload speed results were impressive for regional standards.
Such as 23.21 Mbps at Mitaki station, as shown earlier.
Or 17.59 Mbps at 広島城 本丸 番所跡 (a landmark in the park of Hiroshima Castle).
So what if we compare the results to the Nomad APAC eSIM powered by JoyTelecom?
Well, that eSIM had an average download speed of 37.43 Mbps vs. 16.99 Mbps (Truphone).
With its top speed of 57.44 Mbps at Hiroshima station.
What about its upload speed? An average of 18.91 Mbps (the fastest of any SIM card or eSIM on the NTT Docomo network).
With its best result at Hiroshima as well (23.38 Mbps).
The Truphone-powered Nomad Japan eSIM was half of the JoyTelecom-powered eSIM – 9.93 Mbps.
With these results, I would have discouraged you from using the Truphone-powered Nomad Japan eSIMs.
Not only because they are costly but they performed worse than the cheaper (and more flexible) options.
But it is not like you can get Truphone-powered Nomad Japan eSIMs anymore, anyway 😅.
Nomad Unlimited (JoyTelecom) Japan eSIM Speed Test Results in the Kansai region (Kobe, Kyoto, Nara & Osaka)
While the term Kansai region may not ring a bell for some readers, it is the second-largest region in Japan (behind the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo Metropolis).
The Kansai region is home to the famous Osaka but also Japan's former capital Kyoto.
And a few others like Kobe (yes – the one from Kobe Beef) and Nara (with the large deer park).
Most tend to stay in Osaka when they are in the Kansai region.
But I would highly recommend visiting one of the cities I mentioned earlier because (1) you are nearby and (2) they are worth the visit!
Osaka and the Kansai region was my first destination during this Japan trip.
Here, I learned that most Japanese SIM cards are slow.
And I could not contribute that to me being in some remote town… because Osaka is Japan's third-largest municipality (behind Tokyo and Yokohama (south of Tokyo)) and it has 5G NR (which I used with COMST Japan and Ubigi Japan).
As the Nomad Japan eSIM is not powered by a Japanese mobile operator, I had a pleasant performance with it in the Kansai region.
In fact, it was the best travel eSIM I used in the region.
So, let's see how the Nomad Japan eSIM performed in the Kansai region:
Decent speeds with the Nomad (JoyTelecom) Japan eSIM in the Kansai region.
Only in Hiroshima and Tokyo Metropolis did I use the Truphone-powered Nomad Japan eSIM, which you cannot purchase anymore.
Unlike in Hiroshima, where the Airalo eSIMs (excluding the Discover Global eSIM because I did not test it there) where the clear winners, the Nomad eSIMs performed impressively well in the Kansai region.
It could be because I had way more results here (53 vs. 7) 🤭.
Back to the Nomad Japan results, I had an average download speed of 41.93 Mbps and a median download speed of 37.87 Mbps with the Nomad Japan eSIM: it passed the 4K video streaming test in the Kansai region (minimum of 25 Mbps).
The same can also be said for the HD live streaming test in the Kansai region – the Nomad Japan eSIM had an average upload speed of 14.03 and a median upload speed of 13.27 Mbps, making it pass the HD live streaming test (minimum of 10 Mbps).
In fact, the Nomad eSIMs had the fastest average upload speeds among the eSIMs using the SoftBank network.
And the Nomad Japan eSIM had its top upload speed at Kitahama Station in Osaka (39.11 Mbps).
In fact, it did better than the others at 18 of the 51 test locations in the Kansai region, including Gion Coffee Nanafuku Cafe in Kyoto (28.43 Mbps), Beef Steak Restaurant Royal Mouriya in Kobe (30.49 Mbps), Kyōbate Station in Nara (31.07 Mbps).
The total will be 32 if we combine both Nomad results (18 Nomad Japan + 14 Nomad APAC) because they are the same eSIM – except for the Japan one being geo-fenced.
So you know which eSIM to get if you like live streaming or uploading many images or videos on your stories 😎.
What about download speeds? How did the Nomad Japan eSIM do?
Very well – it had the fastest download speed among the eSIMs using the SoftBank network at 13 of the 51 locations.
And this is also impressive.
When Nomad started its partnership with JoyTelecom, download speeds were throttled @ 42 Mbps (based on the many tests I did in Hong Kong – my first destination where I used a JoyTelecom-powered eSIM).
This resulted in the Nomad Hong Kong and Nomad APAC eSIMs being the slowest in the country.
Nomad was not aware of this.
And after a two-month-long push from my end (because I am all about speed 🐆), JoyTelecom lifted this restriction.
While 42 Mbps is fast enough for 4k video streaming, it was not Nomad's intention to throttle speeds. So it was a problem for them to resolve, which they did after two months 😎.
Five noteworthy results, which were faster than 80 Mbps, were at Beef Steak Restaurant Royal Mouriya in Kobe (83.89 Mbps), Kobe Station (80.79 Mbps), Kyōbate Station in Nara (82.34 Mbps), Ebisucho Station in Osaka (83.85 Mbps) & Shinsaibashi Station in Osaka (83.63 Mbps).
Followed by Nishi-Akashi Station in Akashi (71.93 Mbps), the Imperial Palace in Kyoto (70.88 Mbps), Gassuido Monument in Osaka (78.86 Mbps), Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park in Osaka (73.06) & Kiːno Wakayama Mall in Wakayama (73.36 Mbps).
Like the Holafly Japan eSIM (on the AU by KDDI network), the Nomad Japan (and Nomad APAC) eSIM never hit the 100 Mbps limit.
But I cannot complain about these results, right? 🤪.
Below is an overview of the average download speed I got in each city:
- Kobe: 50.50 Mbps
- Kyoto: 46.50 Mbps
- Nara: 37.40 Mbps
- Osaka: 38.08 Mbps
The Airalo Moshi Moshi eSIM was also on the SoftBank and got a download speed of 375.39 Mbps at the Kimono Rental Gion Nishiki – Gion Store in Kyoto.
This bumped its average download speed from 43.53 to 49.91 Mbps 😳.
COMST Japan and the Ubigi Japan eSIM had 5G NR access on the NTT Docomo network (the Nomad Japan eSIM did not have that access), resulting in better results.
Even then, the Nomad Japan eSIM did incredibly well, especially after my mediocre JoyTelecom experiences in Hong Kong (slowest) and throttled in Thailand (42 Mbps) before heading to Japan.
Nomad (Truphone) Japan eSIM Speed Test Results in Tokyo Metropolis (Chiyoba, Shinjuku, Taito & Tokohama)
Tokyo, or the Tokyo Metropolis, probably does not need an introduction.
As you probably already imagining a bustling city with bright lights.
Which… it certainly is!
But do know that Tokyo consists of 26 cities (+a few towns and villages).
In fact, Tokyo Metropolis has 39 municipalities under its name.
This is why the heading for this section had Chiyoba, Shinjuku, Taito & Tokohama in parentheses because those are the cities I visited on this trip.
But wherever you go in Tokyo, you will have guaranteed fun 😄.
Let's see how the Nomad Japan eSIM performed in Tokyo Metropolis:
Fair speeds with the Nomad (Truphone) Japan eSIM in Tokyo Metropolis.
In Tokyo Metropolis, I used the Truphone variant of Nomad's Japan eSIMs again (which are not for sale anymore) on the NTT Docomo network.
The only travel eSIM using that network was Ubigi Japan, but it had 5G NR access.
And the only SIM cards on the NTT Docomo I still bothered to test, because most were throttled, were COMST Japan (also with 5G NR access) and the TrueMove H Asia Travel SIM card (from Thailand and also with 5G NR).
So… I will compare the Nomad Japan eSIMs with other travel eSIMs instead 😎.
I had an average download speed of 37.68 Mbps and a median download speed of 26.68 Mbps with the Nomad Japan eSIM: it passed the 4K video streaming test in Tokyo Metropolis (minimum of 25 Mbps).
The same cannot be said for the HD live streaming test in Tokyo Metropolis – the Nomad Japan eSIM had an average upload speed of 7.96 and a median upload speed of 6.04 Mbps, making it fail the HD live streaming test (minimum of 10 Mbps).
Unlike the JoyTelecom-powered Nomad Japan eSIM I used in the Kansai region, the Truphone one managed to have speeds faster than 100 Mbps three times.
In Chiyoba City, at Gransta Mall (137.92 Mbps) and Nagasaki Toruko Rice Syokudo Restaurant (Neribeicho District – 100.13 Mbps).
The final location was Narita International Airport Terminal 1 Station (139.87 Mbps).
The Nomad APAC eSIM, powered by JoyTelecom, did not come close (the closest was 82.11 Mbps at Kanda Station).
And remember, the JoyTelecom-powered eSIMs that cover Japan (Japan-only and APAC) are the same, except for the Japan-only one being geo-restricted.
So you will get similar speeds with the Nomad (JoyTelecom) Japan eSIM as with the Nomad APAC eSIM, as shown in the Kansai region results.
But… even though I used the Truphone variant was significantly slower than the JoyTelecom one in Hiroshima, the speeds and performance between the two were practically the same in Tokyo Metropolis.
While I had an average download speed of 37.68 Mbps with the Nomad Japan eSIM here, the average was 35.89 Mbps with the Nomad APAC eSIM.
Fortunately, you cannot buy the Truphone eSIMs for Japan anymore because they were costly.
But if they were still sold, I would have told you not to bother with them because the cheaper option (JoyTelecom) performs equally as well or even better than Truphone.
You may have bought the more expensive one thinking it is more premium.
Fortunately, I spent my money and time to determine that was not the case – you are welcome 😏.
My Overall Experience with the Nomad Japan eSIM – Is It Any Good?
I would recommend the Nomad Japan eSIM, and it would be one of my top recommendations for anyone wanting to buy a Japanese travel eSIM.
Getting the Nomad Japan eSIM, and any other Nomad eSIM for that matter, is easy and straightforward (even though I did not spend any time on how to install Nomad eSIMs – you will manage… promise!).
Nomad's Japan eSIM is also one of the most affordable eSIMs I tested on my trip while having various options (1 GB, 3 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB, 15 GB, 20 GB, 30 GB, 40 GB & 50 GB + “unlimited” data (2 GB/day) for 1, 3, 5, 7 & 10 day(s)).
In Japan, it uses the SoftBank network, which has practically excellent 4G/LTE availability.
Yes, I also used the Truphone-powered eSIM on the NTT Docomo network, but you cannot buy that one anymore 😅 reception between the two was too similar to make any judgment, though.
The Nomad APAC eSIM also uses the SoftBank network.
You will have a fast network experience with the Nomad eSIM.
While it was not the fastest (Airalo's Moshi Moshi eSIM was), the eSIMs on the SoftBank network performed similarly well (in the Kansai region).
I specifically mention the Kansai region because I used the Truphone version in Hiroshima and Tokyo Metropolis, which used the NTT Docomo network (and had different results).
There was only one Japanese SIM card, COMST Japan, faster than any other Japanese SIM card or travel eSIM I tested because it had 5G NR access in the Kansai Region and Tokyo Metropolis.
You cannot always compete with that… unless it is extremely slow 5G NR 😅.
Taking all 91 speed tests into account, I had an average overall download speed of 38.56 Mbps and a median download speed of 33.54 Mbps with the Nomad Japan eSIM.
When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 11.65 Mbps and a median upload speed of 10.04 Mbps with the Nomad Japan eSIM.
The upload speeds are not impressive because the Japanese mobile operators already have slow speeds.
So the Nomad Japan eSIM could not do better in that regard.
Normally, I would tell you how much faster or slower the Nomad eSIM would be compared to the network it uses (NTT Docomo and SoftBank, in this case).
But because Japanese mobile operators do not care about travelers who want prepaid SIM cards, I could not get an NTT Docomo or SoftBank SIM card.
Instead, only Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) sell prepaid SIM cards, and they go through another MVNO, which aggressively throttles speeds.
So… no Nomad Japan vs. NTT Docomo/SoftBank comparison 😔.
But as the Nomad eSIM was not throttled as previously when JoyTelecom-powered eSIMs were launched, it did very well among its peers.
The main issue I have with the Nomad Japan eSIMs is that the plans with more data, like the 50 GB one, are only valid for 30 days.
For a while, this plan was valid for 60 days instead.
And as it costs 125 USD… it better was (and still should be, honestly) valid for 60 days.
In comparison, you can get the 50 GB Airalo Asialink eSIM for 100 USD, valid for 90 days.
In June 2023, Nomad extended the validity of its 30 GB APAC and SEA-Oceania eSIMs (the latter cannot be used in Japan) to 60 days, so there is hope Nomad will do it for country-specific eSIMs like Japan as well.
In fact, it is currently cheaper to buy two 20 GB Japan eSIMs (34 USD * 2 = 68 USD) instead of the 40 GB variant outright (110 USD).
And the validity would be 60 days instead of 30 days.
So this is why I got the 20 GB eSIM for this trip and not the 30 GB, 40 GB, or 50 GB ones (but that would have been too much data for a two-week trip – even for me! (unless I have 5G NR access, lmao)).
Because the value for money is not there… yet.
Knowing Nomad, it will rectify it soon… but it depends on JoyTelecom too.
By using a near-perfect 4G/LTE network, offering affordable data plans (cheaper than Japanese SIM cards) & offering fast download speeds, you should have a smooth browsing experience with the Nomad Japan eSIM.
Other Japanese eSIM Reviews (Airalo, Holafly, Japan Wireless, Nomad, SimCorner & Ubigi)
As mentioned earlier, I also tried out (other) eSIMs from Airalo (Moshi Moshi, Asialink & Discover Global), Holafly, Japan Wireless, Nomad (APAC), SimCorner & Ubigi.
You should read those reviews too.
>>> Airalo Moshi Moshi eSIM in Japan Review | Airalo Asialink eSIM in Japan Review | Airalo Discover Global eSIM in Japan Review | Holafly eSIM in Japan eSIM Review | Japan Wireless eSIM Review | Nomad APAC eSIM in Japan Review | SimCorner Japan eSIM Review | Ubigi eSIM in Japan Review <<<
- Check out my eSIM reviews page if you want to read all the other eSIM reviews I have written, including other eSIM providers in Asia.
I also tried out various local Japanese cards: AnyFone Japan, COMST Japan, Mobal, Nippon SIM, Sakura Mobile, Tourist SIM for Japan, Wireless Gate Japan + TrueMove H Asia Travel SIM Card (from Thailand).
If your phone does not support eSIM (but felt like reading this Nomad review in full anyway – awesome) or want to have the best network experience possible, you want to go directly with the local mobile operators instead of roaming on their networks (as you do with travel eSIMs).
So I encourage you to read the Japanese SIM card reviews too.
>>> AnyFone Japan Review | COMST Japan Review | Mobal Review | Nippon SIM Review | Sakura Mobile Review | Tourist SIM for Japan Review | Wireless Gate Japan Review | TrueMove H Asia Travel SIM Card Review <<<
Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other Asian SIM cards.
Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences
Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:
Support Phone Travel Wiz
It takes a lot of time to analyze, translate & review the SIM card options worldwide (especially to test them out).
Your support helps me keep producing impartial content by eliminating the need to recommend international SIM cards as the best local SIM card (but some of them CAN be useful).
Every Ko-Fi donation, one-time or monthly, helps me to spend more time creating local SIM card buying guides.
Check Out My Resource Page
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience?
Check out my travel resources page for the best companies to use when you travel!
Save money with international SIM cards, on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises & accommodation.
Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Start Your Own Online Business – Make Money While Traveling
Do you want to learn how I started an online business that allows me to generate income while traveling?
In my starting an online business guide, I tell you which tools, services & products I have for this site and my YouTube channel.
If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!
Learn About Your Phone Travel Options
Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.
Phone Travel Tips, Tricks & Hacks
I have written many articles with tips and hacks to save money on mobile costs while abroad. You surely want to check them out!
Sign Up for the Phone Travel Wiz Newsletter
Get updates related to the newest guides, videos & recommended products and services.
Moreover, I send you many tips and tricks on saving money while traveling every now and then.
Let's Be Social
Did you know that I have a YouTube channel covering everything you need to know about traveling with your phone?
A lot of useful videos are uploaded multiple times a week, and you do not want to miss out on them!
Learn More About Who Adu Actually Is
Who is the guy behind Phone Travel Wiz? Well, find out on the Ernest Adu about page!