Staying Connected When Travelling for Business or Pleasure in Japan
In this day and age Wi-Fi is a key requirement for any business to function, and its availability (or unavailability) can have a significant impact on visitors seeking to do business in Japan.
Japan has traditionally been slow to offer free Wi-Fi across its major cities, but with Tokyo 2020 coming up, this is set to change.
The Japanese Government has pledged to increase the number of free Wi-Fi spots for tourists by the time Tokyo hosts the Games.
Free Wi-Fi, formerly only available in airports, can now be accessed in hotels, an increasing number of JR and Metro stations, certain branches of Starbucks (pre-registration is required), Seven-Eleven convenience stores and certain shopping areas in Tokyo.
Many free networks require sign-ups or in some cases registering with your passport. Do be sure to do your research before you head to Japan so you aren’t left stranded when you need Wi-Fi the most.
Area Specific Networks in Japan
- NTT EAST offers free 14-day Wi-Fi across 40,000 Wi-Fi spots for foreign tourists across East and Northern Japan when you register at their centres across Japan.
- Keikyu Corporation has recently launched free Wi-Fi for foreign visitors that you can register for at Haneda Airport and use in many Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto also have free Wi-Fi systems that require registration and are limited to certain areas. See here for a more comprehensive list and explanation of the services available.
Wi-Fi Apps in Japan
Wi-Fi apps can be a convenient and affordable way to stay connected while travelling or doing business in Japan.
These apps allow you register in advance to get access to many networks:
- Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi (NTT)
This free app allows you to connect to Wi-Fi networks with roughly 92,000 access points at international airports, main bullet train and JR East train stations, including Tokyo Station, along with all Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway stations, major sightseeing spots, and certain convenience stores around the country.
- Travel Japan Wi-Fi
This free smartphone app offers users free web access at 60,000 “basic area” access points nationwide. If you enter a Premium Code — available from partner municipalities and companies across Japan, including Japan Airlines, Odakyū Group, and Bic Camera—the application can also be used to connect for free to over 200,000 Wi2 300 “optional area” access points, which usually require a fee. You will also be able to access sightseeing recommendations from these partner bodies.
Personal Hotspots in Japan
Personal hotspots (also called MiFi, portable hotspot, personal Wi-Fi, pocket Wi-Fi, etc.) are small, battery-powered devices that use the local cellular phone network to create a local wireless network. They are easy to set up, provide reasonably fast Internet, work anywhere there is cell phone service, allow multiple devices to connect at once and are relatively inexpensive. Personal hotspots are available to rent at major Japanese airports or via the Internet for delivery to your home or hotel.
Prepaid Data SIM Cards in Japan
Several companies offer prepaid data SIM cards that visitors to Japan can order an receive either before or on arrival to Japan. These plans are good for light users of data.
The company offers Pocket WiFi and also prepaid SIM cards. The Japan Prepaid SIMS can be ordered online, and you have a choice of 7 plans available in multiple SIM sizes to suit your needs.
Plans can easily be extended or topped up, and the SIMs are disposable, meaning you can stay connected right up until your flight takes off.
A mobile app is available for you to have full control over your SIM, including the ability to check your data balance and make top ups.
This SIM card provides unlimited data and is available to pick up when you land at the airport. It can be used for 14 days, with the possibility of extending the time period, and costs JPY 2,380.
Short-term users can also order prepaid SIMs from Sakura Mobile. Orders should be placed at least 3 days before the pick up date, and you have the choice of pick up locations within Japan, including airport post offices, post office branches, hotels, and even residential addresses. The SIMS cards are returned by post, in the envelope provided.
Data SIM plans offered include 3GB, 5GB, 10Gm and 30GB at prices starting from JPY 3,500, JPY 4,500, JPY 7,000 and JPY 20,000 respectively.
This card can be bought when in Japan, at selected electronics and department stores, convenience stores, and Tourist Information Centres. 1GB is available for use over 30 days, and 2GB over the course of 3 months. You can recharge the SIM using IIJmio coupon cards.
Our Practical Guide to Japan provides additional information to ensure you are well-prepared for your visit to Japan.
Send us your enquiry to see if your products or services are a good fit for the Japanese market.
See our partner programme to connect with a company offering the business services you need to grow your business in Japan.
Article by Vanessa Holden, September 2016.