Getting Online in Japan: Internet Access & Wifi in Japan インターネット
Japan is increasingly covered with Wifi hotspots, though they are mainly limited to the big cities. Coverage is sparse in the countryside and mountainous regions.
If you don't want to rely on free Wifi but be sure of getting online 24/7 you are best renting a mobile Wifi router from a reputable Japan-based company such as Pupuru, which can be delivered to your hotel or picked up at the airport.
Get online at any of Japan's major airports: Narita, Haneda, KIX (Osaka), Fukuoka, Sapporo and Chubu International (Centrair). Registration is quick, easy and free for unprotected connection, charged for security-protected connections.
Getting Online at Hotels in Japan
You can always access the internet in a western-style hotel in Japan, usually free of charge, though higher-end hotels in Tokyo may charge you for a 24 hour period. You can also rent a PC at many hotel chains such as Toyoko Inn for around 1,000 yen a night. Access is by Wifi with password or by LAN cable and password.
Getting online at a traditional Japanese ryokan or minshuku in the countryside or in a hot spring (onsen) resort in the mountains is more problematic but not impossible. Larger ryokan often have Wifi and maybe a PC in the lobby, at least.
Free Public Wifi
NTT East Free Wi-Fi Japan is a Wifi service covering much of east Japan, and is completely free of charge for up to 14 days. Access is through the NAVITIME for Japan Travel app. Present your passport at one of the specified locations: airports, tourist offices, department stores and selected hotels. You then receive a card with your ID and password for use with the app.
The service is available in Tokyo, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, Yokohama, Nagano, Nikko, Kusatsu, Tohoku and Hokkaido. See a full list of NTT East Free Wi-Fi Japan hotspots.
JR East Free Wi-Fi Service is a free internet service available on all Yamanote Line stations, on the Tohoku Shinkansen (a trial service on a number of trains) and other JR East and Tokyo Monorail stations. The service is also available at JR East Travel Service Centers at Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, Haneda Airport International Terminal (Tokyo Monorail), Narita Airport Terminal 1 & Narita Airport Terminal 2. Select SSID "JR-EAST_FREE_Wi-Fi". The service can be used for up to three hours per entry and again after re-entry.
JR West Free Wi-Fi Service is a similar though reduced service for western Japan for use in and around JR stations. Free Wi-Fi can be obtained from Osaka Station City 3F Information
B2F Gift salon (LUCUA1100), Kyoto Station Tourist Information Office, JR Kyoto Isetan 3F Tax-Free counter, Tennoji MIO service counter. The free service is valid for 8 days.
In one of the secure areas above, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org - your guest code is delivered by email.
Then connect at a JR West hotspot by entering your guest code.
Starbucks cafes provide free online access throughout Japan on at_STARBUCKS_Wi2. You need to pre-register via the service's website.
McDonald's has followed Starbucks and provides free Wi-fi in around 1,500 of its restaurants in Japan. The service began in 2016 and users can log on using email, Facebook, or a Twitter account.
Kyoto Wi-Fi is a free service available for 24 hours and covers most of the downtown area of Kyoto city.
Kobe Free Wi-Fi allows visitors to Kobe to access the internet at airports, railway stations and McDonald's among 3,000 hotspots. To register, present your passport at the Kobe Tourist Information Center or any other of a list of Kobe Free Wi-Fi registration locations. The service is free of charge and valid for 7 days.
Osaka Wi-Fi and Osaka Free Wi-Fi Lite provide free internet with a reset interval of 30 minutes and 15 minutes, with each registered email address allowed one hour of total access. Wi-Fi access points cover the whole of the Osaka area and well beyond.
Hiroshima Free Wi-Fi and Hiroshima Free Wi-Fi Lite are free wi-fi services around Hiroshima city.
Free Wifi Apps
There are a number of apps that facilitate free internet access for smart phones, iPads and tablets.
Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi is an app able to point the user to and connect with almost 100,000 hotspots across Japan including stations, airports, shopping malls, buses and convention centers, and enable internet connection there.
Some of the free Wifi SSIDs and their locations available through the Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi app are:
- 7SPOT a free in-store Wi-Fi service available at Seven & i Group locations (including 7/11 convenience stores, Ito Yokado, Sogo, Seibu, Denny's)
- JR-EAST_FREE_Wi-Fi at several JR East railway stations in Tokyo, and Narita and Haneda Airports
- FreeWiFi-NARITA at Narita Airport
- HANEDA-FREE-WIFI at Haneda Airport
- Tokyo Metro Free Wi-Fi and Toei_Subway_Free_Wi-Fi in Tokyo subway stations
- Hills-WiFi at Roppongi Hills
- MSP_Free_Wi-Fi, a free Wi-Fi service run by Mitsui Real Estate Management Co., Ltd. and available in such places as LaLaPort, Mitsui Outlet Park, and Daiba City Tokyo,
- Midtown_Free_Wi-Fi at Tokyo Midtown
- Toei_Bus_Free_Wi-Fi on Tokyo Toei Bus
- Tokyo-BigSight_Wi-Fi at Tokyo Big Sight
- shinsaibashi at the Shinsaibashi shopping district in Osaka
- Hiroshima_Free_Wi-Fi at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
- Fukuoka_City_Wi-Fi at Fukuoka Airport, Fukuoka railway stations, bus terminals and sightseeing spots.
- NewChitose_Airport_Free_Wi-Fi at New Chitose Airport, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- Okinawa_Free_Wi-Fi at Naha Airport in Okinawa
Travel Japan Wi-Fi is aimed at visitors to Japan and can direct the user to any of 60,000 free Wifi spots, expandable to over 200,000 if visitors pick up a Premium Code by visiting a commercial partner such as Odakyu Department Stores, JAL ticket offices or selected Don Quijote stores.
FREESPOT is a free Japan-wide Wifi network. It is run by the FREESPOT Association, whose membership consists of numerous IT-related companies.
Paid For WiFi Services
There are numerous pay-for wifi services in Japan offered by the large providers listed below. The large players in the market offer plans ranging from one day to three weeks or longer. Register and pay by credit card.
- docomo - Japan's biggest mobile provider with the broadest network, particularly recommended for coverage in remote areas.
- Softbank - urban-based provider
- BB Mobile Point - a Softbank partner
- Fon - an international hotspot network tied up to Softbank in Japan
- Wi2 - a very reasonably priced service with an extensive Japan-wide network
- Skype WiFi - an app-powered WiFi service from Skype with somewhat less hotspots than the above services but still adequate.
These services require that you go to a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot, of which there are a great many all over Japan, especially at cafes and restaurants, rarely more than a short walk away.
Rental Modems, SIM Cards & Smartphones
The major airports offer rental of 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. Pocket Wifi operate using the mobile phone network and do not always deliver a (strong) signal, or even any signal at all, in some remote and mountainous areas.
Numerous companies offer rentals of pocket routers, SIM cards and phones, so competition is fierce, providers come and go, and conditions change. However the following services are 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 (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). 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.
Read more about renting a Pocket Wifi
Softbank Global Rental offers iPhone SIM card rental, mobile Wifi router rental, and mobile rental. Available at Softbank counters at Narita (Terminals 1 & 2), Haneda International, Centrair and Kansai Terminal 1. A convenient but pricier option that requires credit card and passport.
The Japan Travel SIM service offers a reasonably priced pre-paid SIM card for unlocked smartphones. Being a service that uses the network of Japan's biggest provider, DoCoMo, it has very broad Japan-wide coverage. It starts with 2GB and can be topped up as needed, using cash, at almost any convenience store in Japan using the Brastel rechargeable card (which can also be used for low-cost phone calls, and comes with a convenient calling app). The Japan Travel SIM can be applied for outside of Japan or after arrival.
Internet Cafes & Manga Cafes
Internet cafes, which are often joined with manga cafes in Japan, are still convenient and inexpensive places to get online in Japan. The major chains are usually located near railway stations and provide private booths, comfortable seating, and with snacks and drinks available.