Nine Hours in Narita

Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan

Narita Airport or Tokyo Narita Airport is the hub for half of all airline passenger traffic in Japan and for many visitors their first (and last!) introduction to the zany but alluring world of Japan.

One, Two, Three- Fly!

This blogger takes you on  a wild dance through Terminals 1, 2 & 3 – an energy-sapping nine hour tour of Narita’s various Voice & Data SIM offerings. Our conclusion is simple- if you ever have 9 hours in Narita take our advice and find something better to do!

Not that everyone does get the option to have 9 hours. Take Paul McCartney. He arrived in Narita Airport in 1980, was arrested for possession of cannabis, jailed for 9 days and deported. As you do.

Paris in Tokyo!

Or Paris Hilton- she arrived in 2010 and within 9 minutes (I kid you not!)- was turned back due a to a past misdemeanour (never!) . As she does.

But for us average non-Beatles it’s a place where we get to ask questions of our new host country and find out what’s on offer. We’re simple folk so we started by asking for a SIM Card at the tourist information booth – we were told they were everywhere (they truly where!) and when we asked for a Voice & Data option were told there were 2 options (so far, so good). So we took a walk…

Time Yourself Carefully!

First (Air)Port of Call!

Our first port of call offered 1 option – a Voice and Data SIM Card with 3 GBs of Data for 7.500 yen for 15 days. The interesting part was that you could only make a phone call for 10 minutes and you would be cut off but could re-phone again when that happened. What happens if you wanted to use it for longer? could come back and buy another SIM at that time. You can see how nine hours can easily become nine days now can’t you. Fancy a return trip to Narita Airport- a 70 kms trip from Tokyo. Nah.

(In addition international calls are disabled and for those with a regular size SIM an adapter kit for an additional 580 yen is required. Needless to say the Mobal Japanese SIM allows international calling and comes with free adapter kit as standard)

Limited but Unlimited

Up next… a SIM with Unlimited Data for 970 yen/day with speeds limited when you use over 3GBs/3 days. Local Calls – 110 yen/day and admin fee of 315 yen for something or other and fairly straightforward.

But lurking on the 2nd page was a big warm welcome to Japan…ese paperwork madness..your credit card (yes, the one you are using on your travels!) will be subject to a large pre-authorisation of up to 40,000 yen or approx 350 USD. Where’s the love I ask?

Now it’s at this point that I must try to remain fair and impartial but only to add that Mobal offer a Voice & Unlimited Data SIM with Free Worldwide delivery – you purchase the SIM for 3,000 yen and for a 15 days data bundle you pay an additional 4,000 yen, for 30 days an additional 6,000 yen. No pre-auth. Feeling the love yet? Click here

Digging Deep for a Solution

Hey but we have time- so let’s dig deeper. We know there were only 2 SIMs that afforded the use of a phone number so what about Data only SIMs?

The devil is in the data !

Oh – a comparison chart! How helpful. Let me look.

  1. A Wi-Fi Router for 1,290 yen per day with Unlimited Data. Don’t stay too long!!
  2. A 7-day SIM with Unlimited Data for 4,000 yen- looking promising..
  3. 2.4 GB for 4,500 yen for 30 days with the odd proviso attached that data communication is impossible. Intriguing if not limited. 4 and 5 were sold out but still came with that odd warning that data communication is impossible. Anything a little more straightforward perhaps?
2GBs for 4420 yen

No Simple SIM Solution for Japan?

Looks straightforward- bar the unusual price of 4420 yen (4093 yen plus local tax)  for a sparse 2GBs and despite the cool packaging their customer support in English consisted of a 10 yen b/w copy explaining APN settings…ideal reading for your stay in Japan 😉

Ready for take-off?

A Hard Days’ Night

After 9 hours in Narita it’s getting late and I’ve hard a Hard Day’s Night so have decided to Let It Be (…wait for it!) and my recommendation for 9 hours in Narita can be summed up in the below graphic.

Nine Hours in Narita

So while Narita may not top your list of “must-visits” don’t let that put you off visiting Japan. Mobal have just the solution with the Japan SIM Card and if you really want to feel the love – then just like Paul McCartney, a certain 74-year old man, you need to get over your Narita experience and pop into Tokyo for a rocking good time.


I have a job. A family. A life. I didn’t actually spend 9 hours in Narita. I said bye to the outlaws who paid a visit and happened to be fascinated by the complexity of what is effectively a simple choice. Choose Mobal!

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