Where/how should I rent a cell phone to make calls from Japan to U.S.?
June 26, 2006 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Looking for info on renting a cell phone. I want to be able to call home (U.S.) while hiking in Japan (Fuji, Japan Alps, Hokkaido). Any experience with with this? Advice? Thanks!
posted by cyrreb to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Cyrreb: There are no "rental" phones anymore in Japan (they got rid of them a few years ago, for some reason). The closest you can get is a prepaid phone, but that involves buying the actual phone, and can be a bit pricey. Give me a few minutes, and I'll check through the sites of the Japanese cell phone companies (Vodafone, DoCoMo, Au, Tsu-Ka, and Willcomm) and I'll see what info I can get.
posted by Bugbread at 8:18 AM on June 26, 2006

I take that back. It appears that rentals may be possible if you're applying from outside Japan, but not within Japan.
posted by Bugbread at 8:22 AM on June 26, 2006

You can just bring your Vodafone 3G phone to japan and use it here, or if you have another 3G mobile it may be compatible with NTT DoCoMo. Otherwise you can simply rent a phone from Vodafone or AU, which are also rentable at 7-11. (Bring your passport to the convenience store. That's the kind of world we live in now, chief.)

Sadly, you CAN call from the summit of Fuji-san, as there is a 3G repeater station there.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:22 AM on June 26, 2006

Planetkyoto: I tried to rent an AU phone last month, and was informed that they'd gotten rid of their rental system, and only had prepaid phones, which cost roughly 6000 or so for the phone plus 3000 minimum prepay.
posted by Bugbread at 8:38 AM on June 26, 2006

Ok, here we go:

First, DoCoMo


Rent a Motorola, which is tied to your mobile phone operator overseas. Costs 500 yen per day if you rent from internet, 700 yen per day if you rent from airport. Calls are billed to your own mobile phone carrier. Maximum 30 day rental.

Rental (sorry, couldn't find page in English)

2000 yen contract fee
1,500 yen per day for first week. 700 yen per day afterwards.
64 yen per minute for calls to US.

Next, KDDi


Unclear how much the phone costs, but probably around 5000 or 6000 yen
100 yen per minute for calls to US.

Next, Vodafone


Cheapest phone seems to about 3500 yen
90 yen per minute for calls to US.

I kinda petered out, and won't check TuKa or Willcomm, because DoCoMo, AU, and Vodafone are the big three, and I wouldn't expect anything cheaper out of TuKa or Willcomm.
posted by Bugbread at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

When I went to Japan last year you could rent them at the airport. Not too cheap (can't remember how much) and it took about half an hour to arrange. If you have a rare phone compatible with the japanerse system, you can just rent a simcard, I think.
posted by londongeezer at 1:49 PM on June 26, 2006

Keep in mind that Vodafone is the only company in Japan that uses SIM cards.
posted by Bugbread at 4:01 PM on June 26, 2006

Something like this? JAL ABC RENTAL PHONE
When I googled "rental" and "keitai (cell phone)" in Japanese I found a few other sites with cheaper offers, but that seems to be the only one with a decent English page.
posted by misozaki at 6:25 PM on June 26, 2006

I agree, when I went to Japan for a job interview, I stayed in the Airport terminal and walked over to the Phone rental shop and had it all sorted. I didn't consider it all that expensive, what I would expect.

Then hopped on the bus to go into Tokyo.

If you are already in Tokyo it is probably tricker, and maybe pre-paid is the way to go.
posted by lundman at 7:01 PM on June 26, 2006

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