Free Wifi is not free for you
Before coming to Japan, people think that finding a free wifi is easy. It is the country of robots and computers, so free wifi must be available all over the city? On the contrary, Japan has a strange side in terms of Information technology. People still use FAX to communicate (I use it every day at the office!!) and you have to write your CV by hand when applying a job. Long story short, finding Free wifi in Japan is extremely difficult.
You can find “Free wifi available” sign everywhere, but those are offered for people who already have a contract with Japanese Mobile companies. Major companies such as McDonald, Lawson and Seven-eleven (convenience store) say they have free wifi, but you need to go through a complicated registration before use, sometimes only in Japanese.
So what should we do?
Rent a wifi router (Most recommended)
- Small device that provides access to the Internet everywhere
- Private connection (safe to use for business)
- Can rent at Narita and Haneda Airports, no reservation needed
- Deliver to your hotel on your arrival day (reservation needed)
- The fee is charged per day, not per data usage
- You can drop-off at the airport or use free shipping bag to return
A Wifi router is a small portable device that provide access to the Internet. You can put in your bag or pocket, then you can enjoy the stress-free internet.
I have recommended this router to my foreign friends when they come to Japan. They all said that they had no problem with uploading pictures and checking emails during their entire stay, except for one who went to the mountains.
There are several wifi router companies for foreign tourists in Japan. They have a rental counter at Narita and Haneda airport. All you need are your passport, your hotel address, and the day you want to return your wifi. You pay by cash or credit card.
If you would like to make a reservation in advance, or to deliver your wifi router to your hotel on your first day, booking through this site is recommended. I ordered with hotel delivery (additional charge was JPY 500) already a couple of times for my friends and they had no problem with receiving it.
Use Starbucks Free Wifi
Just same as other countries, Starbucks in Japan offers relatively good free wifi connection. They used to require pre-registration, but that is no longer the case. Just connect, accept the terms and you are good to go. Tully’s coffee has implemented a similar easy system, but do not expect this to be the case in all coffee stores in Japan, most chains do not offer free Wifi.
Buy or Rent a SIM card
Did you know that there were no SIM-free or unlocked SIM mobile phones in Japan until 2015? The reason many network providers SIM-lock their phones is that they offer phones at a discount to customers in exchange for a contract to pay for the use of the network for a specified time period, usually for two years. Still now, most Japanese people have no idea how to use an unlocked SIM.
Pre-paid SIM cards are available for foreign travellers, but do not expect that you can buy SIM anywhere. I recommend to buy it at the North and South arrival gate at Narita Airport before you get into Tokyo. There are a couple of SIM vending machines and SIM rental desk next to the gate.
Prepaid SIM price in Japan
|7 Days||JPY 3,726|
|14 Days||JPY 5,346|
*Data communication service only. Maximum data speed is 262.5mbps
This article is part of a series to provide practical information to the visitor to Tokyo.