IWhen visiting the land of the rising sun, there’s nothing more important than having internet access. Fast internet access allows you to quickly look up directions and check train schedules, find out how to say certain words in Japanese, see the reviews of a hotel or restaurant in the area, or even check the opening and closing hours of the establishments you wish to visit.
There are several things every tourist needs to know about getting connected in Japan, however. With Japan being one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re also stricter on their cyber-security.
In this post, we’re sharing with you what you need to know about internet access in Japan so you can update your social media friends on your latest exploits:
1. Pocket Wi-Fi Rental
One of the best ways to stay online in Japan is by having a pocket Wi-Fi, which is also known as a portable Wi-Fi router. This is recommended for people traveling as a group—like families or company group tours—since everyone can connect to the router at any given moment. Also, pocket Wi-Fis are typically faster and offer more data than SIM cards.
You can rent the best pocket Wi-Fi Japan has to offer from various companies. And what’s amazing is that they’ll even deliver it to your arrival airport or straight to your hotel. Expecting to use up more data for video conference calls or video uploads? No problem. You can also rent a pocket Wi-Fi with unlimited data from some companies so you’re covered no matter what you do online.
2. Data-Only and Voice/Data SIM Cards
Japan has a law that prevents visitors or tourists that don’t have a residential address from obtaining a voice-and-call-capable SIM card. What is available to tourists are Data SIM cards and Voice/Data SIM cards. The maximum download speed you can get is 150Mbps, and you can have a card for 7, 14, 30, or 45+ days.
You can grab these SIM cards as soon as you arrive at the airport. Otherwise, you can also get them at major electronics stores and even some smaller convenience stores (konbini).
Note: You won’t be able to get a refund for the SIM card once you buy it, so make sure to check that your device is compatible and unlocked before you make a purchase. Also, download speed varies according to the device and location you’re in—just something to keep in mind.
3. Wi-Fi in Restaurants, Cafes, and Hotels
From reading the section above, you’re probably now wondering if you can ever get internet access without buying a SIM card. The answer is, of course, you can!
Most of these locations will have funny WiFi names that will attract you to go and check them out and have a coffee while browsing the free internet.
While wireless internet may not be as common as that in North America and Europe, you can still find Wi-Fi Hotspots in some locations. Most hotels do have them, as do some coffee shops, convenience stores, and fast-food restaurants.
4. Pocket Wi-Fi Rental and SIM Card Sales
Major international airports like Kansai and Narita have telecom counters that sell SIM cards and can rent out mobile phones and pocket Wi-Fi. If you want to be a savvy tourist, keep an eye out for the best deals and use the money you saved to enjoy more of what Japan has to offer. It’s true that Japan isn’t necessarily a cheap place to travel to, but there are ways to enjoy this beautiful country on a budget. And one of those ways is to always look for the best deals so you get the most bang for your buck.
Granted, this country of beautiful, seasonal cherry blossoms and picturesque mountain views isn’t the easiest place to get internet access. However, consistent and fast internet connection can improve your holiday on so many levels, so it’s definitely a worthwhile investment for tourists hoping to get the full Japanese experience.