Getting a cellphone and internet

Mobile phones have become such an integral part of our lives that now it is difficult to imagine life without one. Mobile phones make life so much easier, and if you are in India getting a phone and a local number is a cakewalk. However soon after reaching Japan we realised that getting a local (Japanese) phone number and phone is one of the most difficult aspects of settling in Japan, especially if you don’t know Japanese. There are few very important points to remember before one decides to buy a phone

  • First of all, if the period of stay in your visa is less than three years, it is very difficult to get a number and phone (As per my understanding, there may be exceptions)
  • Buying just a sim card is very difficult without knowing Japanese.
  • Hand set bought outside Japan (say India) will not work here. So you  either will have to buy a new phone or a used phone. Former is much easier option but obviously expensive, latter is a cheaper option but you might have to jump through hoops to get it.

Buying a phone is not all together necessary, there are other options that you can use for calling your family (in India) or internet etc. (discussed later in this post). However if you are still interested in getting a local number and phone then keep reading this section.

The 3 major telecom carriers in Japan are NTT, Softbank and AU.

In order to buy a phone you will need to go to the office of one of these companies. Now here it becomes tricky, as it is quite impossible to find staff who can communicate in English  at these offices. After walking into several offices at different locations, we finally found one person at the Softbank office of Sakae, who knew English well. So we decided to buy phone from there itself. There are several Softbank offices in Sakae, the one that I am referring to, is located near (right side) the Exit 6 of Sakae subway station.

Depending on the phone that you buy and calling plan that you decide, usually the contracts are for two years. Another very important point before you even think of buying phone is getting a credit card. You can read my blog post on how to get a credit card here.

Do not forget to take your Passport, Residence card and credit card when you go to buy phone.


Although getting a phone number and phone might seem quite difficult in Japan, getting access to internet is not that tough. First of all, the students and researchers who are living on NU campus should be able to access internet either via wifi or LAN provided by NUWNET. One can also buy pocket wifi devices, that are quite popular here and connect any phone (wifi  enabled of course !) with it. The charges for these are quite nominal. Since I have not used it, my knowledge in this regard is limited and I suggest you to explore this site. The information on the website is general with respect to Japan and not specific to Nagoya. I will update this page once I am able to gather more information.



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