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A must-read before you head out for your trip! A Perfect Guide to Using Wi-Fi in Japan

2016.09.29

Writer name : Wa-Oh! JAPAN

It's often said that Wi-Fi in Japan is hard to find or not very good, but in recent years it's improved a lot. For people who worry about not being able to easily use your smartphone during your trip, here is some information about Wi-Fi throughout the country as well as some recommended services.

1. About accessing Wi-Fi in Japan

There are two major ways of using Wi-Fi in Japan: connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, or carrying around a mobile Wi-Fi router.

A public Wi-Fi hotspot is an open network that you can connect to through hotspots provided by businesses. It's said that in Japan, public Wi-Fi hotspots are rare, but recently they've been increasing around the country. There are both free and paid hotspots, and it's become quite easy to access them.


David Molina/123RF



On the other hand, you can rent a mobile Wi-Fi router, which is a pocket-sized device that you can carry around as your own personal hotspot. It's small and light, so you can easily use the Internet whenever you'd like.


Gianni Furlan/123RF

Many people want to be able to use Wi-Fi during their trip in Japan, but you may not be able to decide which of these methods work best for you.

This article will explain the features of and differences between free public Wi-Fi hotspots, paid public Wi-Fi hotspots, and renting a mobile Wi-Fi router, as well as recommended services for each type, so you can figure out which one suits you!

First, an explanation.

(1) Features of free public Wi-Fi hotspots

[Pros]
Of course, the biggest merit of this system is the fact that it doesn't use any money. Also, many of them can be used with a very short registration and cancellation process, so it's a service that anyone can easily utilize.

[Cons]
Compared to paid services, security is rather weak and the speed may be slow. Many places have limits on the amount of data and number of consecutive hours you can use.
Also, because the businesses that provide the hotspots usually differ depending on area, when you move from one place to another, you may have to re-register or log in again using your ID and password, so it may become annoying.

(2) Features of paid Wi-Fi hotspots

[Pros]
Generally, there are more paid hotspots than free ones, and they're also usually faster. Once you register, all you have to do is log in to the access points, so you can smoothly register and connect without much work.
Also, they have top-notch security features, which is very important if you decide to pay for something using credit card over the internet. You can use it without worry.

[Cons]
Of course, since it's a paid service, it does cost some money.

(3) Features of a mobile Wi-Fi router

[Pros]
The biggest plus is that, as long as you have it with you, you can connect to Wi-Fi almost anywhere in the country. Also, while it may differ depending on location, it is fast and security is high.

[Cons]
Compared to using public Wi-Fi hotspots, it does have more requirements. You must register and/or sign a contract. Usually, you rent it at an airport or other counter, so you have to pick it up and drop it off.
Also, you have to carry it around with you. If the router's battery dies, then you can't use it anymore, so many people also carry around a mobile battery to go with it. Because of this, people who want to travel without carrying much may not like this service. It's relatively more expensive than the paid hotspots.

Summary Of Each Wi-Fi Service

The characteristics of each service have been compiled in this chart comparing them through effort necessary for registration, price, number of access points, connection accessibility (if logging in is necessary, etc.), speed, and security.

[Comparison chart]


Now that you know the different features of each type of service, please choose the one that suits your travel needs best.

2. Specific Recommended Services

Even though you know the differences between the Wi-Fi services, there's so many you might not know which to choose! Here are a few recommended services separated by type.


Komkrit Suwanwela/123RF

(1) Recommended Free Wi-Fi Hotspot Services

Free Wi-Fi hotspots can be used in two ways: through a business or through an app.

Some of the businesses that offer Wi-Fi hotspots are airports, train stations, hotels, cafes, etc. In Japan, there are also services that offer Wi-Fi connections in public places if you have a prior registration, similar to the American service Boingo.

On the other hand, apps gather hotspots provided by various businesses in the area and connect you to one of them. You can only use it by downloading the app, so while you can use it on your smartphone, laptops and other devices that can't download apps will not be able to connect.

Here are a few recommended free Wi-Fi services. Now, if you choose to use the business-based types of Wi-Fi, you can only use it within the areas/facilities offering it, so these are listed in order of estimated number of access points available.

・FREESPOT (Business-based)

FREESPOT Kyougikai, an association promoting ubiquitous free Wi-Fi access, has a wide area of wireless hotspots available in lodging facilities, restaurants, public spaces, etc. around the country, numbering around 13,000. It's only available in Japanese, but for business-based Wi-Fi, it has a relatively large number of hotspots available.

If you register for the first time in an area without FREESPOT Wi-Fi hotspots available, you need to register with your e-mail address and your device's MAC address (usually found in the settings of your device). If you register for the first time using one of their public Wi-Fi hotspots, all you need is your e-mail address.

Depending on the store or place, when you connect to the Wi-Fi, a password might be necessary. In that case, please speak with an employee.


Official Homepage (Japanese only)

・NTT East Free Wi-Fi Japan (Business-based)

This is a service offered by Japan's biggest telecommunications company, NTT East. This service offers free hotspots around eastern Japan, aimed towards foreign tourists visiting Japan.

To use it, you must go to the Tokyo Tourism Information Center Haneda Airport Branch (Haneda Airport International Terminal 2F) to receive a Wi-Fi card that has an ID and password on it. You can also receive the ID and password by downloading the travel app NAVITIME for Japan Travel. It can be used for 14 days.

Languages available are English, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, and Korean.


Official Homepage

・Local Free Wi-Fi (Business-based)

Local Free Wi-Fi is the general name for the Wi-Fi service offered by NTT West, a big telecommunications company that covers western Japan. Hotspots include bus stops, subway stations, public areas, sightseeing areas, etc. all around western Japan, including famous cities like Kyoto and Osaka.

Generally, the cities have separate hotspot services, so when you move from city to city, you'll have to register again. However, if you download the app Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi, then it will come in handy because many of the city hotspots accept it in lieu of a separate registration. Also, the languages available and time limit vary based on the city hotspot service itself.


Official Homepage

・TRAVEL JAPAN Wi-Fi (App-based)

TRAVEL JAPAN Wi-Fi can be used by both iOS and Android phones. Once you download the app and register, it will automatically connect to the best hotspots around you, including cafes, restaurants, and public areas all around the country. However, in order to access all of the hotspots, you need a premium code. This premium code can be found on pamphlets available at cooperating businesses, like Bic Camera and Don Quixote.

Languages available are English, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

As stated above, you can only use this service if you download the app beforehand. Only devices that can download the app can access the Internet using this service.


Official Homepage

・Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi (App-based)

Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi is available for both iOS and Android. It connects to the networks of business-based hotspots. All you need to do is download and register once, and nearby hotspots will come up on the screen and you can connect with just a tap. It can connect to many of the hotspots on the Local Free Wi-Fi network mentioned above.

Languages available are English, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Bahasa Indonesian, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Russian. 

As stated above, you can only use this service if you download the app beforehand. Only devices that can download the app can access the Internet using this service.


Official Homepage

(2) Recommended Paid Wi-Fi Hotspot Services

Because these services are paid for, their easy of use and quality are quite high. Here are some of the features and prices of some recommended paid Wi-Fi hotspot services.

・docomo Wi-Fi for visitor

docomo Wi-Fi for visitor is offered by NTT DOCOMO, the mobile phone carrier with the largest number of customers in Japan. This Wi-Fi service is aimed towards foreign visitors to Japan.

There are around 150,000 access points throughout the country, including airports, train stations, convenience stores, family restaurants, cafes, sightseeing spots, and more. It's very simple to use - all you do is register beforehand, and then log in to the access point.

There are two plans available: a one week plan for 900 JPY (excl. tax), and a three week plan for 1,300 JPY (excl. tax). This comes out to 130 JPY or 60 JPY a day respectively so it's relatively reasonable compared to other paid services. When you need help, there's a call center offering troubleshooting in multiple languages that you can contact. This service also offers one of the highest levels of security in Japan, so you can rest assured when using this Wi-Fi service throughout your trip.

Languages available are English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and Korean.



Official Homepage

・Wi2 Wi-Fi

Wi2 Wi-Fi is a paid service offered by the same company providing the free Travel Japan Wi-Fi. You can use it at various spots around the country, including cafes, restaurants, public spaces, sightseeing areas, etc.

Since it's not aimed towards foreign travelers only, there are many types of plans, including a monthly one. However, the plans that foreign tourists can use fall under the Wi2 300 One Time Plan category. There are 4 types available: 350 JPY (incl. tax) for 6 hours, 800 JPY (incl. tax) for 24 hours, 1,500 JPY (incl. tax) for 3 days, and 2,000 JPY (incl. tax) for a week.

Languages available are English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Korean, and Thai.


Official Homepage

(3) Recommended Mobile Wi-Fi Router Rental Services

There are various places where you can rent mobile routers, but here are some that you can rent for 1,000 JPY or less a day as well as their specs.

・G-Call

This mobile Wi-Fi router service is offered to foreign and domestic tourists by a company that also handles cell phone rental services.

[Price]
900 JPY (excl. tax)/day

[Where to get it]
You can pick it up at both Haneda and Narita Airports (1,000 JPY), or it can be delivered anywhere in Japan (1,000 JPY).

[Speed]
(4G) Download: 75Mbps; Upload: 25Mbps
(3G) Download: 9.2Mbps; Upload: 5.5Mbps


Official Homepage

・Global Advanced Communications

This is a mobile Wi-Fi router rental service offered by a company that handles cell phone and data card rentals aimed towards domestic and foreign tourists.

[Price]
There are 4 types of plans based on the specs of the router, but the standard Wi-Fi plan is 990 JPY/day. You can choose to use it from 1 to 5 days, and every day exceeding that costs 300 JPY/day.

[Where to get it]
Depending on the airport and time, there is a free and a paid option. For free pick-up, you can get it at Narita, Kansai International, Chubu Centrair International, and New Chitose Airports during business hours. If it's in the early mornings or late at night, you can pick it up for an extra fee from Narita, Kansai International, and New Chitose Airports. Pick-up at Haneda and Fukuoka Airports will cost a fee no matter the time. You can drop it off at the drop-off box (free).

*Depending on the airport, business hours and fees vary, so please double-check the homepage beforehand.

[Speed]
(LTE/4G/3G Hybrid) Download: 75Mbps; Upload: 25Mbps
*In the case of Standard Wi-Fi


Official Homepage

・PuPuRu

This is a mobile Wi-Fi router rental service offered by a company handling cell phone rentals aimed towards domestic and foreign tourists.

[Price]
10GB Plan: 600 JPY/day
Unlimited Data Plan: 1,000 JPY/day

[Where to get it]
You can pick it up at Narita, Haneda, Kansai International, and Chubu Centrair International Airports (1,800 JPY). You can have it delivered to your lodging facility (1,000 JPY; if you want it before 10:00 am, then it costs an extra 300 JPY for a total of 1,300 JPY). You can drop it off in the drop-off box (free).

[Speed]
(10GB) Download: 75Mbps; Upload: 25Mbps
(Unlimited Data 4G LTE) Download: 75Mbps; Upload: 25Mbps
(Unlimited Data 3G) Download: 9.2Mbps; Upload: 5.5Mbps


Official Homepage

・NINJA WiFi

This is a mobile Wi-Fi router rental service started in March 2015 for foreign tourists by a company that offers router rentals for Japanese people going abroad.

[Price]
900 JPY (excl. tax)/day

[Where to get it]
You can pick it up at Narita, Haneda, Kansai International, and Chubu International Airports (free). You can also get it delivered anywhere within Japan for a separate fee (500 JPY). You can drop it off either in the above airports (free) or have it delivered by mail (500 JPY).

[Speed]
(4G) Download: 165Mbps; Upload: 10Mbps
(4G LTE) Download: 187.5Mbps; Upload: 37.5Mbps

There are also other add-on services you can choose from, such as renting a mobile battery for an extra 100 JPY (excl. tax)/day.


Official Homepage

Please use this article to find the Wi-Fi service that fits you best and enjoy your trip through Japan to the best of your ability!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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