Getting Online in Japan: Rental Modems, SIM Cards & Smartphones
Free Wifi in Japan is not really sufficient for travelers who are used to being online 24/7 or for business travelers who need constant and reliable Wifi for work. Free Wifi is spreading in Japan but it can be unreliable and time limited. The lack of Free Wifi is the number one bugbear for visitors to Japan according to a survey by the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), far out-weighing any other problems experienced while traveling around Japan.
Why Pocket Wifi Makes Sense
Japan's big cities are confusing to navigate, even if you do speak Japanese, so having access to Google maps and train and subway route planning apps like hyperdia and jorudan makes a lot of sense to ease your navigation around crowded, chaotic cities.
Accessing tourist information while on the hoof can help you understand what you are seeing much more and give access to things like Google Translate to help with communication in shops and restaurants.
Post your images instantanously on Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so your friends and family back home can keep in touch.
A few companies offer re-chargeable Pocket Wifi or personal hotspots which can offer 4G internet access for multiple devices. Charges are presently very competitive between the major providers.
The following service is recommended.
Pupuru offers both Hi-Speed (Unlimited/LTE) using the Softbank network (best for city areas: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka etc and watching movies and video calls) and Broad-Coverage or Wide Coverage (Unlimited/LTE) with au (best for travelers in ski resorts and more remote sightseeing spots such as Hokkaido and Okinawa or walking the Nakasendo or Shikoku Pilgrimage).
The Hi-Speed modem has a battery life of 10 hours and can connect 10 devices simultaneously; the Wide Coverage modem has a slightly longer battery life of 12 hours and can also connect 10 devices at the same time.
What You Get
Each set comes with the router, recharger, USB cable, pouch, manual and return envelope and can be delivered to your hotel, other accommodation or picked up at your airport of arrival. *There is a 1,000 yen charge for airport pick up.
At present Pupuru sets can be picked up at Narita Terminal 1 (QL Liner Arrivals Floor 1F; 6.30am until last flight), Narita Terminal 2 (QL Liner Arrivals Floor 1F; 6.30am until last flight), Haneda (JAL ABC Pick-up Counter, Arrivals Floor 2F; 24 hours), Kansai International Airport (JAL ABC Pick-up Counter Arrivals 1F; 6.15am until 10.30pm), Chubu International Airport (Yamato Transport Pick-up Counter Departures 3F; 6.30am-9.30pm).
Alternatively, the sets are delivered to your hotel if you book online with 3 days' notice.
* There is 1,000 yen fee for hotel delivery which includes the return postage fee.
* You can add a 10000mAh (milliamp Hour) large capacity battery for a small daily fee to your order.
What You Can Do
Pocket Wifi mobile routers can usually operate for about 9-12 hours before needing a recharge (depending on the number of devices connected), though an external battery pack is always a good idea when traveling.
Using a Pupuru pocket Wifi means you can easily use your PC, tablet or phone for Skype video calls, watching YouTube videos, Facebook, WhatsApp, and downloading/uploading photos.
Up to 10 devices can be connected to one pocket Wifi.
Returning Your Pocket Wifi
Returning your pocket Wifi couldn't be more simple just leave the pre-paid envelope with your hotel reception or put it in a mail box yourself.
* Pocket Wifi operate using the mobile phone network and do not always deliver a (strong) signal, or even any signal at all, in some very remote and mountainous areas. Though for most travelers' needs a pocket wifi is more than sufficient.
* It is advisable to order your Pocket Wifi at least two weeks in advance or more if you are visiting Japan at a busy time in spring or autumn.
* Pupuru also rent cell phones for use in Japan and overseas which you can add to your order for the Pocket Wifi.
Pocketalk Translator (300 JPY/Day)
With a Pupuru Pocket Wifi mobile router you can also make use of a Pocketalk Translator.
Pocketalk Translator is a compact interpreter that allows communication without any language barriers.
Translates from over 50 languages to Japanese.
Translates from Japanese back to your language.
-- All with this simple device!
A Pocketalk Translator is useful in the following circumstances:
in an emergency, for lost or stolen items, ordering at a store or in a restaurant. Use it also as an alternative to a dictionary.