Working Holiday Visa in Japan

With around 15,000 people obtaining a Work Holiday Visa for Japan, it is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating countries to stay for your work holiday. It is a place where you can experience both traditional culture, as well as modernization. You’ll be able to explore from the snowy mountains of Hokkaido, to the temples in Kyoto, to the beaches in Okinawa and the skyscrapers of Tokyo.

If you are a citizen of a country that has a Working Holiday Visa agreement with Japan, lucky you! You can see the full list here.

A working holiday visa for Japan is valid for at least 6 months and can extend up to 18 months. This depends on the working holiday visa and the country you are from. There are also age requirements for the working holiday visa. You must be between the ages 18-30 when applying for the working holiday visa in Japan

After receiving a working holiday visa, adventurers that arrive in Japan have concerns when coming to Japan. One of them being: How do I get a mobile plan in Japan for my working holiday? 

This is an obvious concern since a SIM card is essential for your stay during your working holiday in Japan. It will connect you to the internet and access a phone number. Finding your way around, setting up a bank account, finding a place to stay, discovering a good restaurant, finding a job, checking the weather and messaging friends all require you to have a SIM that allows you to be connected to the internet and/or a phone number. It is important to find a mobile plan that will suit your needs after receiving your working holiday visa. 


The Traditional Network Providers

There are traditional network providers in Japan: NTT Docomo, Softbank Corp. and KDDI.


1. NTT Docomo is the predominant telecommunication provider in Japan. Its name Docomo is a compound word meaning “everywhere” in Japanese.

2. KDDI provides mobile services through its brand name “au by KDDI.” They are the oldest out of the three companies.

3. Softbank is a subsidiary of the Softbank Group. It is a multinational conglomerate holding company.

Although, it may seem like it would be the easiest and cheapest option to pick a mobile plan out of these three largest telecommunication providers for your working holiday stay in Japan, but it is very much NOT the case.



Firstly, the big three Japanese mobile plan providers do not offer contracts that are no shorter than two years. Which is not fit for working holiday visas that only span up to 18 months at most. They also make it hard to get out of these mobile plan contracts. The contracts automatically renew these two year binding contracts after the contract ends. 

Language Barrier

Another struggle that people have is the process of signing up through these large network providing companies. This is due to the language barrier. Most of their employees do not speak or speak very little English, much less, other languages. Making it difficult for people to understand the complicated contracts and process of signing up for the mobile plan. 

Bank Account and Address

These mobile providers also require a valid address and bank account in Japan. This is usually difficult for people who have just arrived in Japan after receiving their working holiday visa. A phone number is also necessary for setting up a Japanese bank account and is even required to rent a place. This system may sound counter intuitive where you can’t sign up for a mobile plan without an address. And you can’t rent a place without a mobile plan. Therefore, the in place system is made for people who are currently living in Japan. Making it difficult for new working holiday visa arrivals to sign up for a mobile plan. 


Lastly, the mobile plans that they provide are also very expensive. For example the Softbank unlimited voice & unlimited data costs around ¥8,980 per month. The low voice usage & unlimited data costs around ¥7,980 per month. Many of these contracts come with extra hidden fees and add ons. 

As you can see, the network providers are probably not the best choice of mobile SIM plans for people who have recently arrived with their working holiday visa. 


If not the traditional network providers, what are my mobile plan options for my Working Holiday in Japan ?



For working holiday visa holders in Japan, MVNOs are the best option instead of the expensive mobile plans from network providers. MVNO stands for mobile virtual network operator. They are wireless communication service providers that do not own the wireless network infrastructure itself. 

Finding deals with MVNOs are a much better option for data, or data & voice SIMs because they are easy, cheap and fast. Most have support in English and in other languages as well. They are easy with their set up process being all done online. Prices are also cheaper and the biggest advantage is that you are able to pay in the currency of your choice. There are no long two year contracts with hidden fees. MVNO offers little or no hidden fees or cancellation fees. These features make it an adaptable plan for an unpredictable stay. It is also flexible with the many types of plans that they offer from data only plans, to voice & data plans. 

Smash Mobile is the Best Mobile Plan Solution

Smash Mobile is the best MVNO mobile plan solution for working holiday visa arrivals in Japan. You can access their wide ranging selection of mobile plans that will be perfect for your unforgettable stay in Japan. 

They offer a fast and reliable 4G/LTE connection from the predominant NTT Docomo network with unlimited throttled data. Their mobile plans are very flexible with choices of amounts of high-speed data ranging from 5GB, 7GB, 10GB, and 30GB with both data only and voice & data plans

Payments can be done with your credit card and international cards are accepted, of course. Cancellations are free and there are no binding contracts with fees.

They have a reliable English and French support team that is more than happy to answer any of your questions.

Lastly, the SIM card can be delivered to and received at the place you will be staying, the airport once you have arrived or even international delivery at your native home before you start your working holiday journey in Japan.