The latest has been an emergence of sim cards which use these same local Japanese towers. You can also use your unlocked U.S devices, like iPhone and Android, and they also come with data plans. Our favorite is Mobal since they offer a plan which has 7 gbs of LTE (fast) data with a phone line that is free to users on the same network (Mobal). So if your family all have Mobal sims you can talk for free, and if you don’t need the data you can turn off the data plan and pay 1100 per month for the phone line. If you choose to use the data it will cost 6000 yen per month, but since our readers are long-term we negotiated to let us use their students/teachers plan which cuts the cost to 4500 yen per month. (USE CODE :OKIHAI).
Mobal does charge 29 yen per min to call Japanese phones outside of their network, but all incoming calls are free. With so many apps these days like Line, Voxer, and FB messenger I can see how one could easily manage to not use so many outgoing mins.