Throwback Thursday: Setting up a Phone for Japan

First of all, I’m sorry for not posting last Thursday. I’ll try to write posts more in advance than Wednesday night from now on.

So, the real subject of today’s Throwback Thursday – how I set up the phone I’m using during my time here.I don’t know about you, but for me trying to think of what to do about a phone for Japan was a little daunting. Ideally I wanted to be able to use it as soon as possible after arriving in Japan – I didn’t want to be stuck without a useable phone for weeks. But I’d also heard that phone contracts in Japan, like a fair few back home, are for 2 years.
At that point, I was thinking I’d only stay in Japan for a year.
((Thinking back, that idea feels laughably naive now, having since decided with no hesitation to recontract for a second year after realising that deep down, that was what I had always wanted to do))
But that was what I thought at the time and so the prospect of having to navigate the phone providers in Japan to try to negotiate a 1 year contract made me anxious.

I also didn’t want to have to sort something official like a phone contract in a language I wasn’t 100% confident in (I did get all my apartment contract information in Japanese only and bought all my electrical appliances in a store, with no English information, but these were, admittedly, unavoidable).
And finally, I liked the phone I had. So much so that I’ve replaced it about 4 times over the years, each time with the exact same model. So I didn’t want to have to get a new phone.

But wouldn’t you know, I found a solution~
Its name? Sakura Mobile.
Sakura Mobile is a company operating under the network of major Japanese service provider Docomo. They offer combined voice and data SIMs, data-only SIMs, and pocket WiFi for either travel in Japan (up to 90 days) or long-term (over 90 days, which is obviously the one I chose).

What I like about it:

  • they have a fully English website, as well as English customer support
  • you can cancel your monthly contract at any time with no charges
  • you can set it up before you even go to Japan, then just pick it up at the Post-Arrival Orientation hotel (for those on JET programme) or your local konbini (convenience store)
  • speaking of JET programme, they do discounts for participants, and also for exchange students
  • you can use the phone you already have since it’s just a SIM card
  • you don’t have to activate the SIM, just set it up in the network settings on your phone
  • you can choose the amount of data you want, from 3GB, 5GB, 7GB, or 20GB per month
  • if you run out of data, you can still use the internet, it’s just slower than normal
  • if you get the voice and data SIM, you get some free minutes each month
  • you can top up online if you need to
  • they accept foreign credit cards

So I signed up and set up my chosen plan (Voice and Data SIM, long-term) on their website, I got a confirmation email for sign up, payment, and to confirm my choice of being able to pick it up at Post-Arrival Orientation.
One problem I encountered was that although they had a specific room labeled as where you could pick up the SIM cards at Post Arrival Orientation, due to the packed schedule of lectures and networking events, whenever I tried to go to said room, it was closed or in use for something else. If you end up having the same problem, you can actually pick your SIM up from the hotel reception instead (I didn’t find this out until two or more days into Orientation).

Then to set it up, just follow these steps!~

Hope this information was useful!~

[Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid to advertise Sakura Mobile in this post, these are my own recommendations from having used the service myself, and I don’t benefit in any way from making this post about their service]

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