Phones in Japan
We recommend that all our team members have a mobile phone in order to be easily contacted and in the case of emergency. We highly recommend using a smartphone in Japan, as we primarily communicate via Riot as a team, and most people in Japan communicate using LINE. Please see recommended apps at the end of this section.
Bring One From Home
If you already own a phone from your home country, it is compatible with GSM SIM cards, and is unlocked, then you can use that here in Japan. Unlocking your smartphone may require some work, but will save you a lot of money. Most GSM phones can be unlocked so long as you are not still paying for it. The first place to turn is the network carrier to which your phone is locked. They will often unlock it for free upon request. The second place to turn is an IMEI unlock service provider. There are many online, just be cautious of choosing one that is well reviewed. One such company is DoctorSIM.
Purchasing in Japan
If you do not have a device, you can purchase a SIM-free (unlocked) smartphone from places such as Amazon or Expansys in Japan for around ¥20,000 for a basic smartphone, ¥40,000 for a mid-range smartphone or ¥90,000 for a high-end smartphone. You can also find them in second hand shops.
Side note: If you get a phone with Saifu-keitai (mobile wallet) function, you can use your phone to make payments at many shops and public transport. The latest iPhones from overseas tend to also have this function.
There are many different companies that offer affordable plans, which include some data and a phone number. You can find a list of the most popular plans at Kakaku.com.
Most of these companies require a credit card. If you do not have (or don't wish to use) a credit card, as of now you have 2 choices:
Line Mobile allows you to apply for and use a Line Pay Card (which you can also use at shops) that you can link with a Japanese bank account. Costs are ¥1,296 (1GB data) or ¥1,825 (3GB data) per month.
Rakuten Mobile allows you to pay using a Japanese bank account (though this charges you an extra ¥108 per month). This would cost ¥1,836 (3.1GB data) per month.
You can purchase a SIM card and set up a plan online. Calling time is usually not included in the cost, so you will be charged per minute for any calls, though most people call using a messenger app like LINE for free or little cost.
- Riot.im - Main tool used to communicate as a team within YWAM Sendai
- LINE - This is the most popular messaging app in Japan. Most people you meet will ask to add you on LINE
- Yurekuru Call - Disaster warning system in English
- Google Maps - Reliable maps in Japan (Google pulls their transit info. from Jorudan)
- Google Translate - Extremely helpful, especially the translate from a picture function
- Japan Transit Planner by Jorudan Co. - Helps you find train and bus times and plan journeys
- Japan Connected-free WiFi by NTT Broadband Platform - Register once and use free WiFi hotspots all over the country