travel

Saitama offering free SIM cards to foreign tourists

8 Comments
By Oona McGee, RocketNews24

Japan is well-known for its unique hospitality culture, which partially stems from the concept of “ichigo-ichie” (“one time, one meeting”), the tea master’s philosophy that every encounter is a once-in-a-lifetime moment to be cherished.

Now, Japan is flexing its hospitality muscles in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by rolling out new services and products to help visitors and reduce the stress that comes with travelling in a country where things can sometimes get lost in translation. The latest display of impressive hospitality comes from Saitama City, where the city council is offering free SIM cards to its foreign visitors.

Saitama City, located just 20 kilometers north of central Tokyo, is offering the service to help foreign visitors in the area. Free local Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t as readily available as they are in the nation’s capital, so the city decided to hand out free SIM cards to help visitors connect to the local network, a valuable portal of information for foreign tourists.

The free SIM cards can be used in tablets and smartphones, providing three gigabytes of data (Internet only), to be used within 30 days.

To take advantage of the free offer, either visit Saitama in a tour group or simply stay at one of the following hotels: Hotel New Saitama, Palace Hotel Omiya, Rafre Saitama, Urawa Royal Pines Hotel and Uraya Washington Hotel.

But that’s not all. You’ll also receive an original Saitama City postcard for free, packed with information on local gourmet delights and sightseeing spots.

With only limited numbers of SIM cards available, the city plans to use feedback from visitors to decide whether to continue the promotion with increased quantities in the future. If you know someone arriving at Narita or Haneda Airport, you might want to suggest they spend a night at Saitama to get a free SIM card to enjoy for the rest of their stay.

Source: Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Tokyo adding free Wi-Fi to 143 subway stations for foreign travelers -- About time! Osaka embraces free city-wide Wi-Fi -- Four Tokyo “Nap Cafes” Where You Can Go for a few Winks (So You Aren’t Caught Falling Asleep at Work)

© Japan Today

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8 Comments
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To take advantage of the free offer, either visit Saitama in a tour group or simply stay at one of the following hotels: Hotel New Saitama, Palace Hotel Omiya, Rafre Saitama, Urawa Royal Pines Hotel and Uraya Washington Hotel.

Read: the SIM card is not free.

Glad I'm not a Saitama taxpayer.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That's very nice, but Saitama is not where the action's at.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That's very nice, but Saitama is not where the action's at.

True, but yesterday it was. Saitama Stadium- in middle of nowhere- hosted LoudPark 2015!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japan is trying to entice visitors to its shores, and they have many reasons to come. One thing, however, is a big negative when travelling here:

Since 2006 a law has been in place preventing people who do not have proof of residence in Japan from purchasing SIM card with Voice services for use in Japan. Only Data services are allowed. Theoretically this is to stop phone fraud in Japan by limiting the use of 'burner' SIMs. However with the prevalence if IP telephony, the effectiveness of this law is now in question.

As international roaming rates are incredibly expensive (many Japanese telcos don't co-operate with international telsos on international discounted rates) many travellers would routinely purchase a pre-pay voice/data SIM in the country they are travelling. Not Japan.

If Japan really wants to encourage more tourism, how about giving the tourists the ability to purchase a voice SIM at rates comparable to those which residents can purchase.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder if this free sim card would help me? when I've visited Japan before when I have phoned home (UK) the phone works, but if I phone a hotel or a friends mobile who live in Japan my phone won't work. has any one else come across this? would my phone work if when I am in Japan use the international phone code firsts then the number? it was a very frustrating time trying to arrange things with friends as my phone didn't work!, but if this scheme works i would stay in Siatama just for the sim card!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Brian, you have to call locals as if you are in your home country. For mobile phone numbers, drop the first zero. I use O11 81 and then the number.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, I guess 3GB is better than nothing, but would this really be a game changer to visit such a bleak place like Saitama?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why can't people just live without their phones for a while? Talk about a bad addiction...!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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