Wondering where to buy a SIM card in Kyoto? You can buy a data-only SIM card or micro-SIM card just a few steps away from Kyoto Station.
IPhone © MIKI Yoshihito
In an earlier post, I wrote about B-Mobile SIM cards, which are the perfect SIM or micro-SIM cards for those who are happy with data-only service for their smartphones or tablets while travelling in Japan.
As noted in that post, in order to use these SIMs, you must have an unlocked device and be able to configure the device to use the SIM. While the B-Mobile SIMs are data-only SIMs, you can use them to make Skype calls, so you can use your device like a phone if you wish.
So, if you’re first stop in Japan is Kyoto, it makes sense to buy one as soon as you arrive. A good place to do so is BIC Camera, which has a huge branch directly next to Kyoto Station (actually, it’s part of the same building – on the far west side of it).
While there is a direct exit from the platforms that will take you to BIC Camera, it’s easier to find by going out the normal main exit on the north side of the station (known properly as the Karasuma Central Gate). This is the side from which you can see Kyoto Tower (if you can’t see it, you’re at the wrong exit).
Exit Kyoto Station via the Karasuma Central Gate and take a left as soon as you’re outside the building. Follow the sidewalk around the front of the building (it will jog left then right) and walk past the entrance to a parking garage and after a minute or so, you’ll find yourself in front of BIC Camera (a big white store, pictured above).
Take the escalators to the 4th floor and go right to the cashiers. Ask them in simple and plain English for the B Mobile SIM. You might have to write down what you want if the person behind the cash register doesn’t speak much English. They’ll take out all the various B Mobile visitor SIMs and microSIMs. Note that these SIMs require a call from a Japanese cellphone call to activate them. When I was there recently, the gentleman I spoke to behind the counter said that the staff are happy to make that call for you with a store phone to activate the SIM.
Once the card is activated, you’re good to go.
An Alternative Way To Get A SIM Card In Kyoto
If you don’t want to be bothered with buying a SIM card after arriving in Japan, you can order a B-Mobile Visitor SIM in advance and have it delivered to your arrival airport or your first night’s lodgings. And, best of all, these Visitor SIMs do not require a call to activate. See my post on the B-Mobile Visitor SIM for more information.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings on Skyscanner
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Get travel insurance for your Japan trip - book online with World Nomads