SIM Cards at Sapporo Airport: A Guide for International Arrivals
A guide to some of the best options for travellers arriving at Sapporo Airport. To help anyone arriving in Japan via Sapporo, I put together this guide based on my own experience and research. It can be tough figuring out what to do when landing in a foreign country, even if you’ve been there before. I travel a lot and know what it feels like. Hopefully this guide makes it a bit easier for you when you’re arriving in Sapporo.
When arriving in Sapporo, there are 3 options for SIM cards:
- Buying at the airport (roughly 3,500 JPY, available immediately, good if leaving the airport by bus or car)
- Buying at Sapporo Railway Station (roughly 2,800 JPY, better deals, but need to travel there by train)
- Receiving a delivered SIM card (roughly 2,500 JPY, can be collected at hotels, homes, or the airport post office)
If transiting in Tokyo before arriving in Sapporo, it is possible to buy a SIM card at either Narita or Haneda airport. Check out my Tokyo SIM card guide for more details: https://landinglastminute.com/tokyo-airports-sim-card/#tokyo-transit
- Being picked up at the airport: Get a SIM card delivered to the accommodation
- Heading straight to Sapporo city: Visit the Bic Camera shop at Sapporo Railway Station
- Arriving for work (not that I ever have): Use the vending machine
Buying at the airport is reliable and convenient, there is also an English speaker available to assist if something doesn’t work. Available SIM cards include So-net 1.2GB for 3,500 JPY1, it can be purchased from the vending machine. There may be other alternatives available from the Wi-Fi rental counter or the information counter depending on stock.
Buying at Sapporo Railway Station is a good compromise of cost and convenience when departing the airport by train. In Sapporo Railway Station, Bic Camera sells SIM cards for roughly 2,600 JPY2. The train ride to Sapporo Station from the airport may look complicated to the first time visitor, but it is a straightforward journey and there are people who can help with directions and ticket purchase at the airport.
Receiving a delivered SIM card is the cheapest option for tourists arriving in Sapporo airport. I’ve found prices available under 2,500 JPY (such as Smash Mobile3). Price depends on delivery choice, I’ve compared options further below. SIM cards are delivered to hotels, homes, offices, and even the airport post office (which is located in the Sapporo Airport shopping area near the domestic arrivals - proceed through the long walk to get there).
More details about these options are included below.
All SIM cards discussed in this article use the same network (NTT Docomo) and seem to therefore have the same coverage. The other networks in Japan are unavailable to nearly all foreigners (au) or inconvenient to buy and activate (Softbank).
Phone calls are NOT typically included in Japanese prepaid SIM cards that can be sold to foreigners. See below to find out how I make phone calls when I'm in Japan (or click here).
Wi-Fi rental is advertised heavily in Japan. It is pitched at visitors who can have a hard time figuring out if their phone will work on local Japanese networks; this is also different for different parts of the country. I’ve never liked renting Wi-Fi or a SIM card when visiting a country, it means having to find the shop to return it upon departure (and what if it’s not even open!).
Roaming into Japan with a foreign SIM
Many countries nearby have cheap Japan roaming SIM cards available. These can be a good option if stopping over at such a country on the way to Japan. For example:
- Singaporean carrier Starhub offers 1GB of prepaid roaming data for use in Japan - 8 SGD (roughly 640 JPY, starting from 7 days)4
- Hong Kong carrier Birdie offers day pass roaming for 15 HKD (roughly 210 JPY per day)5
- Australian carrier Optus offers 10GB of roaming data for 10 AUD (roughly 740 JPY and lasts for 14 days)6
Buying a SIM card at Sapporo Airport
There are three possible places to buy SIM cards in the international arrivals area of Sapporo Airport:
|Shop||Location||SIM Cards Available|
SIM Card Vending Machine
||To the left after leaving customs, near an escalator (see map above)||
Wi-Fi Rental Shop
8am - 10pm every day
|To the left after leaving customs (see map above)||
|Information Counter||In front as you exit customs||
These SIM cards bought at the airport may not be easy to activate, the information/tourist counter may be able to help.
Wi-Fi rental is available at the Wi-Fi rental counter. If SIM cards are available, they likely offer more flexibility and less hassle (i.e. no need to return it) than Wi-Fi rental.
Buying a SIM card at Sapporo Railway Station
At Sapporo Railway Station the Bic Camera shop sells the following SIM cards (stock depending):
- b-mobile Visitor SIM: from 1,980 JPY which includes 5GB of data and 10 day validity;
- Japan Travel SIM: from 2,656 JPY which includes 1GB of data and 30 day validity, an option for calls may be available but I’ve never been able to figure out how to set it up.
The Japan Travel SIM includes a VOIP phone card that can be used to make and receive phone calls.
Sapporo Railway Station is connected to Sapporo Airport by a rapid JR train7. Ticket costs start at 1,070 JPY at time of writing. There is no need to change trains or buy separate tickets to reach Sapporo Station. Journey time is approximately 36 minutes.
Receiving a delivered SIM card
Many SIM card providers in Japan offer to deliver a SIM card to a hotel, office, home address, or selected post offices (such as at major airports).
Some of the SIM cards that can be bought by delivery include:
- Smash Mobile, 1GB of data for 2,500 JPY (including delivery, plus tax), more data options available
- b-mobile, 5GB of data for approximately 2,400 JPY, more data options are also available
- Japan Travel SIM (with VOIP card), 1GB of data for approximately 2,800 JPY (including delivery)
If staying more than 21 days, order a Smash Mobile SIM. Other providers tend to have short expiry.
Smash Mobile SIM cards are valid from 7 to 90 days. Top-up options:
- Extra data costs 3,800 JPY plus tax for 3GB
- Extra validity (only available on the unlimited plan) costs 5,500 JPY for 30 days
b-mobile SIM cards are valid for 10 or 21 days. Top-up options:
- Extra data costs 500 JPY per gigabyte
- Extra validity costs 500 JPY per day
If collecting at Sapporo Airport after arriving from an international flight:
- Leave customs
- Walk across the connecting path towards the domestic arrivals area
- Find the post office amongst the shops
- Present ID and other information as directed by the website
Details of Smash Mobile can be found here: https://smashmobile.jp/travelers/
Details of b-mobile can be found here: https://www.bmobile.ne.jp/english/product.html
Details for the Japan Travel SIM can be found here.
Prepaid SIM cards for short-term visitors to Japan do not usually include local phone calls.
To make phone calls while in Japan I like to use a service such as Skype. Skype usually works well with a data connection and calls are 2-10 cents (USD) per minute depending on whether the call is going to a landline or mobile. For calling back home, I prefer using an app such as WhatsApp.
To receive phone calls in Japan, I’ve only ever tried using the app Line. I haven’t found a good solution to receiving phone calls from Japanese numbers while visiting Japan; let me know if you have a good idea.
It is apparently possible to receive calls with the Japan Travel SIM card (and its associated VoIP card) but I’ve never tried. I’ve also heard it’s possible using Softbank or a provider called Wi-Ho. These are the only ways I know of to get a phone number as a short-term visitor to Japan, a number that could be used by people outside the country can also use to call.
To find out more about the different options for calling people (and being called) while travelling, I wrote a helpful guide that can be found here: https://landinglastminute.com/calling-while-travelling-guide/
Wi-Fi at Sapporo Airport
Free Wi-Fi is available at Sapporo Airport8. Connect to
NewChitose_Airport_Free_Wi-Fi and agree to the terms and conditions to get started. The network is not encrypted.
Roaming a Japanese SIM card to another country
The only Japanese SIM card I found that offers prepaid roaming (to other countries) that can be sold to a visitor to Japan is the IIJmio Global Travel SIM Service. This is the same company behind the Japan Travel SIM mentioned earlier in this guide. Prices start from around 6,800 JPY and it can be purchased from Bic Camera or online (Japanese only): https://www.iijmio.jp/gts/
Written by Chris who travels frequently for work and understands what it can be like to arrive somewhere new and unfamiliar.
I wrote Landing Last Minute to help the hurried traveler get necessary information about any destination.