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Will my cell phone work in Japan?

Yes, you'll be able to use your cell throughout most of Japan, though remote and isolated areas may have inferior cell coverage. If you wish to stay connected for the majority of your trip, consider purchasing a prepaid SIM card for the duration of your journey. You could also activate global roaming when you're in Japan; just be sure to find out how much this may cost with your service provider, as it can be expensive. 

Buying a SIM card in Japan

To avoid roaming charges, it is possible to buy a local prepaid SIM card in Japan or order one in advance to pick up when you arrive. Local SIM cards can be used on most unlocked phones from Europe, Asia and Australia, and on some unlocked phones from North America. The vast majority of prepaid SIM cards in Japan provide data only, meaning you can't make or receive calls or texts while using them. 

You can buy prepaid SIM cards on arrival in Kansai, Narita and Haneda airports. You can also pick them up at Bic Camera, an electronics chain which is located in all major cities. There's a lot of variation in price depending on how much data you plan to use per day and how long you need the SIM to be active for. A general rule is to budget USD 2 a day for each day you plan to travel.   

Cell phone etiquette in Japan

While you'll be able to use your phone pretty much everywhere in Japan, that doesn't mean you should! If you want to be a responsible traveller, keep in mind the following guidelines for cell phones:

  • Turn your cell phone to silent mode when you're in public places, particularly on trains!
  • Try not to answer calls on public transport, in restaurants or in bars.
  • If you must answer your phone in public, keep your voice quiet and cover your mouth with your hand while speaking.  

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