I'm a high data user for my business and I'm looking for a SIM rental (or phone/dongle/mifi/whatever) that can provide me with 7+ gigs a month at a reasonable price. It doesn't have to be super fast, anything 4 Mbps upload and above is fine.
Is this a pipe dream still?
FYI - to define 'reasonable price' I get 10 gigs a month on 4G at AU$33 (¥3,100)
Heading back to Japan later this year and dreading the idea of researching this stuff online as its so darn hard! Hopefully one of you has done the research for me :)
Last year before my trip I spend a good couple of months researching into this very same topic. As you might find, it's surprisingly ridiculously hard to find a good SIM rental option as most providers require you to have a foreigners card if you want to get short term voice/data contract.
To summarise - you pretty much can't get voice/data unless you have a Japanese ID of some sort, so that leaves you with either a rental data simcard or rental pocket wifi. This article gives a good overview: Staying Connected in Japan: Phone and Internet Options for Your Trip to the Land of the Rising Sun
The following are my recommendations based on what we did for our last trip. The rates I'm quoting here are all in AUD as I'm also from Melbourne :)
Given that you require up to 7GB, I highly recommend you go with Global Advanced Comms as their plan gives you unlimited data. Their rental rates go by number of days though so they may be bit more expensive but you pay up front and you don't have to worry about getting charged ridiculous fees after you return.
We shared with a couple of people which made it more affordable. Go with the newer 75MBps model - it'll last you about 10-12 hours on continuous usage. Great coverage (emobile) - only lost connection when we're inside the tunnels and very very remote villages. I think we used up about 12Gb within the first few weeks...
They deliver to your hotel so it's ready to set up when you get there, and they include an envelope you can use to drop it off at the airport before you leave the country.
For data simcard, I ended up narrowing down to B Mobile and eConnect. A friend had a good experience with eConnect but they didn't have any Nano simcard at the time. After some additional research, I ended up with IIJMIO's Welcome Pack (Japanese only site)
If you happen to have a Japanese friend or address and can read/speak Japanese, you might want to also consider then. As a backup plan on top of the shared pocket wifi, I also purchased a nano simcard from them through Amazon Japan. I have a Tenso address I could use to register and went on their min 2 months 2Gb plan ($30 base plan + $15 a month x 2) ended up costing around $65 in total for 2Gb per month. Excellent coverage (NTT Docomo) , slightly better than the pocket wifi.
You will need to log in and cancel your account after the 2 months or they will just keep charging you on a month to month basis. The downside is because it's all in Japanese it can be fiddly and hard to digest all the available plan though so some people might prefer going through BMobile/eConnect.
Still overall, it was cheaper than BMobile's visitor sim plan - about $40 for 1Gb, valid for only 14 days. Given that we were there for a month it would have costed us about $80 for 2Gb.
Also check out the hotels you'll be staying at, most of the newer ones might offer wifi. Otherwise if you have an Airport Express or any other wifi base station you can always plug that in to create a wifi network.
Good luck :)
Since early 2017 you can (thankfully!) get a Voice/Unlimited Data SIM card for Japan using a Softbank SIM from Mobal.
The packages all offer Unlimited Data (starting from 15 days/30 days/60 days etc) ewith 7GBs of Fast Data monthly(at least 4G but perhaps LTE) and throttled after that but still connected.
You get a Japanese Phone Number (how hard was that before!) with any photo ID (drivers license, passport) and as calls received are free and calls out won't kill you at 40 yen/minute it's as good as you're going to get without paying for rental.
You buy the SIM for 3,000 yen and add the Data Pack- 30 days is 6,000 and as there is no contract you simply decide how many 30 days you need- (I chose ongoing so I cancel when I know I'm leaving).
See: Mobal SIM Japan
They deliver free in Japan so as long as your phone is SIM-free you should be fine.