How to get a Japanese phone number with Sakura Mobile

How to get a Japanese phone number with Sakura Mobile

How to get a Japanese phone number with Sakura Mobile 1140 585 Michaël da Silva Paternoster

In Japan, many foreigners find themselves unable to have their own phone number. Fortunately, Sakura Mobile offers cheap solutions without headaches.

A phone plan is one of the first things that the expatriate or foreign student is seeking to subscribe when arriving in a new country. We are in the 21st century after all, and living thousands of kilometers from our families is not necessarily an insurmountable barrier. A simple connection to a communication network is enough to reach who you want to and be reachable by everyone.

But this idea, which may seem simple in our modern world, is full of pitfalls for the individual who wishes to settle in Japan. This country is at the forefront of telecommunications technology; however, it has trouble giving phone numbers to foreigners.

Fortunately, a small operator called Sakura Mobile has understood the difficulties encountered by most foreigners in the accession to a Japanese phone number. This company recently began offering plans without commitment including a phone number. These new offers are perfectly suited to non-natives in Japan.

Get a phone number in Japan: the obstacle race

As I said in the introduction, the majority of foreigners arriving in Japan have difficulties in subscribing to mobile plans among traditional carriers. There are several reasons behind this problem.

Most Japanese phone plans have 24 months’ contractual commitments

Most phone plans offered by the three major carriers: NTT Docomo, AU and Softbank, have two-year commitments. And at the same time, the majority of foreigners arriving in Japan have visas that are valid for a shorter period.

In addition, plans are often packaged with a mobile phone that is partially subsidized in the monthly charges you will pay. Now if your current mobile is compatible with the Japanese network (this is increasingly the case) and is not SIM-locked with your previous carrier, you have no reason to change.

Japanese operators do not accept foreign credit cards

Mobile operators only accept Japanese credit cards. If you are in Japan thanks to a student visa, you can completely ignore this frustrating process that is opening a bank account in Japan. Except if you want to open a telephone line in the country… Too bad.

Contracts are in Japanese and your interlocutors speak only Japanese

Many foreigners come to Japan to learn the Japanese language or to work in positions that do not require the mastery of that language. Except that when you go to a carrier store to open a new phone line, you will see that most Japanese salespeople do not speak English. Moreover, the contracts are only written in Japanese. It’s logical, but it clearly won’t help you.

In short, with all these problems, the majority of foreigners prefer to fall back on data SIM cards and try to survive without a local phone number. These folks are quickly disillusioned when they start looking for a new job, begin some administrative procedures or are about to receive a package in the mail… Indeed, these situations require at one time or another the use of a local phone number.

Sakura Mobile is the solution to all these problems


Sakura Mobile is the first Japanese telecommunication company to offer calling plans tailored to foreigners in Japan. With so many obstacles, it is surprising that none of the big players in the industry has reacted to ease foreigners life:

  • Their phone plans are without contractual commitment. So you can subscribe without worrying about the length of your stay. If someday you have to leave Japan, you only have to tell Sakura Mobile that you want to terminate your contract with them. Then you will only pay the current month and nothing more.
  • You can pay with a foreign credit card.
  • Website and customer service are available in English. 

How much does a Sakura Mobile Voice + Data plan cost?

There are several Sakura Mobile plans offering a Japanese phone number. They are grouped under the name “Voice + Data SimCard”:

  • 3Gb + 30 call minutes: ¥ 2980 per month
  • 5Gb + 40 call minutes: ¥ 3980 per month
  • 7Gb + 50 call minutes: ¥ 4980 per month
  • 10Gb + 60 call minutes: ¥ 6680 per month

Activation fee is ¥ 7500, but there are no hidden fees such as early termination fee.

You need more call minutes?

I know that some people call more than an hour per month. If this is your case, know that local calls beyond those included in your subscription will be charged ¥ 30 per minute.

Those who want to call their grandmother back home will be able to contact her with their Japanese phone number. This call will also be charged ¥ 30 per minute. The complete price list is on this page.

If these prices do not suit you, you can always call your contact via a VoIP app, such as Skype or Line. Anyway, you have enough Internet to make such calls.

How to subscribe to a Sakura Mobile Voice + Data plan?

Simply click the button below to be redirected to the Sakura Mobile subscription form.

Be aware that you will need a Zairyu Card (a foreign resident card in Japan) or a Japanese driver’s license mentioning your address in Japan to open a telephone line.

Your SIM card will be delivered to your Japanese home within 3 to 5 days after the payment of registration fees.

What to do if you do not have an address in Japan?

As I described before, you need to have a resident card (or Japanese driver’s license) with your address in Japan to open a phone line in Japan. However, do not panic! Sakura Mobile delivers a solution.

Indeed, you can subscribe to Sakura Mobile offers even from abroad. Sakura Mobile can deliver Data only SIM card at the airport so that you can get connected upon your arrival in Japan. Once you have all the necessary documents, you can convert your Data only SIM card to a Voice + Data plan. In this way, you will always be connected from your first day in Japan!

To summarize, Voice + Data Sakura Mobile offers are perfectly adapted for people on a short-term or mid-term visa who want a Japanese phone number.

Michaël da Silva Paternoster

I’m a French guy living in Tokyo, where I work as a digital marketing manager and consultant for several years now. I’ve decided to share my travel recommendations and various tips to help people settle in Japan.

All stories by : Michaël da Silva Paternoster