How do I contact my family and friends while I’m in Japan?

The short answer is: (1) LINE, Skype, or Viber, via wi-fi; (2) texting, via wi-fi or phone; (3) emailing, or (4) calling them.

The advantages to email are obvious—it’s efficient, fast, cheap, easy, and spans time zones nicely. But do keep in mind that you are going abroad to immerse yourself in a new culture. Daily emailing with people back home can hinder your adjustment process. Of course, email is still an option for occasional or important communications.

Students have access to computers at KCP 2F–Library, and the entire building has wi-fi.

The options for phone, text, and wi-fi use are changing fast.  Be sure to check in with KCP staff or students who’ve been at KCP for a while.

See Is there any phone planning I need to do?

Data SIM card

If your cell phone is NOT SIM-locked (can install another company’s SIM card) and you can make monthly payments by credit card, you can use a “data SIM card” that you can purchase at major electronic stores in Japan.

These data SIM cards are usually for Internet use only, but some data SIM cards support both Internet and phone, or Internet and SMS (text). For more on this, search Wikipedia: SIM lock and other topics.

There are many kinds of data SIM cards (including sizes, like regular, micro, nano), so it’s best to shop for one after you arrive. Unlimited convenience use types are usually expensive. Cheaper ones often have a monthly maximum data limit; once you use it up, your connection reverts for the rest of the month to the slowest speed.

With a wi-fi connection, you can also use LINE (most popular in Japan), Skype, Viber, or other phone applications. These give you a Japanese phone number to call through an Internet connection. That way you can have both a phone number (usable via wi-fi only) and a data SIM card.

You can buy Internet-data-only SIMs at shops, but if you register online you can usually start using the service that same day. When you buy a data SIM card at a shop that includes regular phone service (and a phone number), it may not come in the mail to you until several days later. Most students are okay with the Internet data only SIMS.

Yodobashi Camera near Shinjuku is the largest electrical appliance shop near KCP. There are some branches near Shunjuku as well.


If your own phone is SIM-locked and you still want to use the third-party SIM options above, purchasing a SIM-free (not locked) phone model in a shop can be an option. You can buy these phones in major electronic shops in Japan such as in Shinjuku’s Yodobashi Camera.

Prepaid Phones

Most students don’t use prepaid phones, since they are not smart phones and need monthly prepays.  If needed you can purchase a pre-paid cell phone at the airport. Softbank (the only prepaid phones sold in Japan) are available there.


Rental wi-fi, or pocket wi-fi, is usually more expensive, but people without SIM-unlocked phones who still want constant internet phone access may find it useful. It’s helpful to arrange it in advance: you can have the company send the wi-fi transmitter to your Japanese address or to KCP.  You can rent a wi-fi router from companies like wifi-honpo.


Except for the Softbank prepaid phone, if you run over in a month, your contract may charge you extra. If you wish to make a contract for a data SIM card or Wi-Fi service, check first whether it is unlimited or a monthly fixed price so that you won’t be charged more later if you run over.

NOTE: Never sign a contract on behalf of someone else or try to take over a third-party contract.  Students have lost money this way and still not obtained service.

PAY Phones

As in the U.S., most people have cell phones these days. However, after the recent earthquakes, there is a concerted effort to keep some pay phones in public places.