How to get a prepaid cell phone in Tokyo/Japan

I’ve read that this has caused a lot of headache for some persons, so I thought I would post a quick guide to future visitors to Japan/Tokyo on how to get set with a prepaid cellphone.
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  1. Buy a SIM card:
    Go for stores that sells cellphones, they seem to also have prepaid SIM cards. There is a big selection of different types, but I chosed a 1 GB DATA SIM – cost around 3.000 JPY (approx. 30 USD). I was going for something with more data, but as a prepaid sim card this does not seem to be available – the clerk told me, additional data cost 500 JPY pr. GB.
  2. Activate the SIM card:
    This was actually the most difficult part. So you need to call in from a Japanese phone line/number. First I asked the hotel concierge to fix that for me, as their activation number was only manned by staff speaking Japanese, but this didn’t work out as they need to speak directly to the person activating the card. Hmm…Turns out, there IS a I English speaking hotline though: Opening hours 7am to 11am (wtf?) Jetlagged and all, it took me a few days to be “available” in that timeslot ;)When you call in, you must have a credit card ready as they charge you additional 2.500 JPY (approx. 25 USD) to activate the card. For some reason they need to call you back to the number your calling from – in my case they just needed to know which hotel I was staying in and and my room number (as I was calling from the hotel phone).
  3. Configure your phone
    Once your card is activated, you need to configure your phone. As small guide comes with the SIM card. Something about changing the APN settings. This wasn’t easy either (My HTC One was apparantly not on their device list) but after Google-ling a bit I found the solution.
  4. Kill apps that drains data:
    Data is expensive, so I switched of my Spotify, changed my email setting to only download attachedment when i’m on WIFI etc.  I recommend you do the same 🙂

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Activation tutorial. The number on the note (03-6721-5032) is the number for the English speaking support hotline.

 

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