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I recently arrived in Japan and have been having a very difficult time trying to find a suitable mobile service.

For short stays, SIM and phone rental services are a good option (1,500 JPY/day). I'm here for a few months, so I'm looking for something that's more affordable.

What are my options?

Basic requirements:

  • >=1 GB Data access per month
  • No need for Japan resident card
  • No long term agreement (max 3 months)

Nice to have:

  • Japan phone number
  • Local voice & SMS capabilities
  • Unlimited data access
  • Fast (25Mbps+) connection speed
  • NanoSIM form factor

I have multiple unlocked devices that I can use, with support for Japanese mobile bands.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Unfortunately "No need for Japan resident card" and "Japan phone number" (along with voice and SMS) are not compatible. Non-residents aren't able to buy voice SIMs.

B-Mobile appears to be the best option in most cases. There's some info in English at Japan Mobile Tech that looks to be up to date. There are no high-speed unlimited options but the Chamelon SIM is available in LTE and goes up to 5gb/month. Nano SIMs only appear to be available on the visitor plans.

Since you won't have voice, Wimax is another option. It'll require carrying another device, but their current Wifi router is about the same size as a stack of 6 credit cards. Data is unlimited and speed is claimed to be up to 40mbit. Buying the router probably makes this less economical than a data SIM for less than 12 months.

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Getting a number without any way of tracking who is making the calls makes fraud a whole lot easier, so legislation was introduced to prevent it. Specific scams are wangiri and ore-ore scams. At any rate, even getting a prepaid domestic phone requires valid ID now, so you aren't going to have much luck as Jeremy says. –  jmac Sep 30 '13 at 6:34
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