[* Updated: Local news agencies now reporting iPad 3G will be SIM locked in Japan. Read below for details]

It’s P-Day in Japan.  That’s “P” for Pre-order I mean.

As of today you can pre-order your shiny new iPad.  But remember, no iPads will hit the street until May 28 in Japan.  As I am writing this, I am even hearing reports of  people lining up in front of shops to be the first to put their names down.

If you want to know what it will cost you, check out our price breakdown post, but besides price, what else do you need to know?  Well, to start with;

Where can I pre-order an iPad?

The iPad can be pre-ordered in person at the following locations.

You can also pre-order the iPad online at the Apple Online Store.  But note that you can only pre-order the Wi-Fi only model online.  You must stop by in person to pre-order a wi-fi+3G model.  Also, there is no in-store pickup option in Japan like there was in the US, so if you order online you have to have your iPad shipped to a location somewhere.

What do I need to pre-order an iPad wi-fi+3G?

Sure, it’s just a pre-order, and not an actual contract at this point, but don’t forget your documentation if you want to reserve your iPad 3G.  Here’s what you will need.

ONE of the following forms of identification.

  1. Drivers License
  2. Japanese Passport
  3. National Health Insurance Card + Proof of local residency
  4. National Health Insurance Card + Credit Card
  5. National Health Insurance Card + Student ID card with Photo
  6. Disability certificate
  7. Foreign passport + Foreign resident identification card

In addition for the iPad, the only method of payment allowed for the iPad plan is credit card payment.  So it looks like automatic bank withdrawal and convenience store payment are not acceptable.

Micro-SIM and SIM lock

There have been plenty of rumors floating around the intertubes over the last few days, but here’s is what has been officially announced regarding the iPad SIM cards.

According to Apple Japan’s website, the iPad is not SIM locked.

“The iPad wi-fi+3G can be used with a micro-SIM card provided with an iPad compatible data plan”.  On international usage, “To use a local data plan while roaming, use a micro-SIM with iPad data service.  For international roaming service, please check with your domestic service carrier”.

Now, we still do not have practical verification.  That will come when we actually have reports of people plugging in different SIM cards.  Also keep in mind that Apple can change the wording on their site any time before the actual launch day, but take this as a positive sign that the Japanese iPad will remain SIM-lock free.

Also note, that Apple has stated that the iPhone SIM and the iPad micro-SIM can not be swapped.  Well, certainly they are different sizes, so they can’t easily be exchanged, but they go as far as to say that you must be on an iPad compatible plan, so even filing down you iPhone SIM to fit into the micro-SIM slot might not be enough to get your iPad working (and would certainly violate you users agreement).

UPDATE #2: Impress Watch and ITMedia are now both reporting that all iPad wi-fi+3G models sold in Japan will be SIM locked.  This contradicts information on Apple’s own webpage, but according to ITMedia, an official statement from Apple confirms that “Due to Apple’s partnership with Softbank with the iPhone 3G and 3GS, the only network that all iPads sold in Japan will be able to access is Softbank”.  As of this update, Apple’s webpage has still not been updated and continues to state that the iPad can be used with any micro-SIM card that has an iPad data plan.

Docomo has reportedly expressed regret that their plans to offer a micro-SIM compatible with the iPad are not going to work.

In addition, Impress notes that customers who buy iPad 3G models overseas will not be able to make a contract for due to the fact that imported models are not certified to operate in Japan.

This is very disappointing news, and you will certainly be hearing more, both on this website and others, leading up to the May 28 launch of the iPad in Japan.

UPDATE: The discussion on twitter regarding the locked status of the iPad is quite lively now.  Information coming from the Apple camp implies that the iPad is unlocked, however inquiries to Softbank have been coming back that the iPad will be locked to Softbank only.  Is the Apple website just an unedited translation or is Softbank trying to play up their launch exclusivity. We may not know until May 28 so buyer beware.

Softbank exclusivity

In the MetPod Podcast yesterday, Softbank Store General Manager Mihoko Kasuga stated that Softbank has an exclusive for the iPad launch in Japan.  While this doesn’t restrict other carriers from coming out with compatible micro-SIM cards and plans, it does look like at the very least, we won’t see them on May 28.

While it’s only a matter of time until micro-SIM cards start to appear in Japanese handsets, the iPad will be the first device in Japan that uses them.  I would bet that the iPhone 4G will be the second, so there is certainly no rush by Japanese carriers to support the format.

For now at least, Softbank has the only horse in town, but you can bet EMobile is salivating with at the number of Pocket wi-fi’s they will be able to sell with the iPad wi-fi.

Accessorize your iPad

Bring out the bling!  While Amazon Japan has been flooded with 3rd party iPad accessories for a while now, but now we have the official add-ons.  On the Apple online store, along with the iPad, you can also pre-order the iPad case, dock, keyboard dock, camera connection kit, vga adapter, and 10 watt usb power adapter.

So what are you waiting for?  If you are in line right now to pre-order or will be signing up, make sure to check out our iPad forum and discuss the iPad with your fellow iPad peers.

Thanks to @TokyoDan for the pic!

Follow our complete iPad landing in Japan coverage