These days, 4G has become an inseparable part of our lives. Even when we go overseas, we will buy a pre-paid local sim card so that we can surf while sightseeing. In most countries, getting a pre-paid sim is easy. However, in Japan, as most of you know, it could be kind of tricky. If I didn’t remember wrongly, you can’t even get a call-only sim card in Japan under the country’s telco regulation.
Fortunately, there are many 3rd party distributors that sell pre-paid data-only sim outside Japan and Yokoso Sim is one of them.
Why did I choose Yokoso Sim in the first place?
Frankly, this was the first time I am trying out Japan’s 4G network and I chose Yokoso Sim based on my friend’s recommendations:
- Yokoso Sim uses NTT Docomo ‘s network. (NTT is an incumbent telephone service provider in Japan just like Singtel is in Singapore.) Judging from the scale of the company, its coverage should quite extensive.
- Local representatives in Singapore. I am not a patient shopper where I can wait for days for my item to arrive after I have made the purchase. On top of that, I prefer to speak to a person directly so that I could get my queries answered fast. So, having a local representative always appeal to me.
- Unlimited usage. Fast 4G browsing is limited to the first 135MB per day. Once breached, the service continues but at a reduced speed of 200kps.
- Reasonable pricing. The 7-day 4G card is selling at SGD35 which is very competitive among other distributors.
Experience with Yokoso Sim Activation
Unlike other pre-paid sim you get from some countries; you could do the activation yourself as long as you know the APN settings. I have listed it down below for your reference.
- APN: so-net.jp
- Username: nuro
- Password: nuro
- Authentication: PAP or CHAP
Note: If you are using Android phone, you would need to give a name for the APN. In this case, just give any name of your preference
I have been researching quite a bit on the phone compatibility with Japan networks. Generally, iPhone/iPad are not a problem. I have read on a Chinese site the limitations on activating on some phones. Basically, most smartphones are compatible except for HTC, Xiaomi, Mainland China-branded Phones, Blackberry and Windows Phone.
I guess for most people, this will not be a problem. If you are carrying your spare Chinese brand phones for your Japan trip which is not compatible with the NTT Docomo network, you might wish to try the following:
First, activate the sim card on a Apple device (refer to the manual that comes along with the sim card). During this trip, we brought an iPad Mini, Blackberry Passport, Blackberry Classic and OPPO Find 7. Yes, you are right! Most of our devices are not compatible according to the website. So what’s next for us? Since we have no choice (trust me! We tried to activate the service using non-Apple mobile devices. It does not work!), we activate the service using our iPad Mini (I believe any other Apple mobile devices could do) It does not come to us as a surprise that it works.
Next, take out the activated sim card and insert into your phone. You should have 4G connection**
**During our trip, we tried the same method for our OPPO Find 7 (a Chinese phone) and Blackberry phones. It works well.
Mobile Hotspot and Converge
Creating mobile hotspot is common when you are traveling in groups. However, this isn’t the case for our Hokkaido trip. We rely a lot on Google map for navigation and having a device with a bigger screen makes a lot of sense. As such, we dedicated the sim card to our iPad Mini. Then came another problem. We could not tether to our iPad Mini as NTT Docomo does not allow the creation of mobile hotspot. However, this restriction only seems to apply to Apple products. We tried tethering on our Blackberry and OPPO phones successfully. Point to note – don’t rely your iPad and iPhone for tethering.
According to NTT, below shows the coverage of 4G network in Hokkaido. Orange and Red refers to the coverage
If you understand Japanese, you may get more information from the website https://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/support/area/hokkaido/index.html
Based on the above, most of the places I went to are covered. Google map worked extremely well when we were doing our nature tour. The signal strength and speed are generally good even at nature parks and mountains. In the cities, speed and accessibility are definitely better. However, I didn’t experience blazing fast 4G speed when comes to uploading and posting on Instagram and Facebook. Maybe I am a pampered Singaporean that has a certain expectation of what an actual 4G speed like. So far, Hoheikyo Dam is the only place that I did not have any signal.
Activation process is straight forward if you are using an iPhone or iPad. If you are using other phones, you may run a risk of not able to activate the service. Although there is a work-around (which I have shared earlier), it makes the process less seamless and user-friendly.
If you plan to travel in large group, I will suggest that you obtain 4G router directly from the distributer. Price might be higher but it saves the hassle of having to activate the sim card and having to swap the sim card between devices.
Coverage wise, I think that Japan 4G coverage is far much better than most countries I’ve been to.