Almost all my friends who are planning to go to Japan for traveling or having a short trip have this one (long) question: “How can I get connected to the internet? Can I buy an internet-only sim-card? Are there many free wi-fi connections? Can I survive without internet connection?” So here is some guidance for all of you who have also been questioning the same things.
All airports in Japan provide a free internet connection that is compatible for most gadgets. Get connected by selecting network “AirportName_Free_Wi-Fi” and by following simple procedures including registering your e-mail address, you will have internet connection soon.
This is the most convenient option that I would recommend to foreigners. First of all, pocket wi-fi provides internet connection which would be compatible with almost all kind of smartphones, tablets, and even laptops, so no need to worry about a sim-card compatibility problem. The second thing is, most pocket wi-fi can be used by more than 1 user or gadget connected. This will be even more useful when you are traveling with your friends or family. Lastly, you can rent and pay for your pocket wi-fi just before you fly out to Japan, and have them sent to your hotel or you can usually get it at an airport counter.
Returning them is not a problem, the provider will give you an envelope with an address written and you just put your pocket wi-fi inside and put the envelope in a post box before you fly back home. However, just like your gadget, Pocket wi-fi is run by battery power and it usually lasts up to only 2-3 hours if you set the power ON all the time. So make sure that you use it wisely or prepare a fully charged power bank (sometimes you will get power bank as well when you rent a pocket wi-fi)! Pocket wi-fi costs around 3000-4000 JPY with 300-500 JPY daily charges. Recommended site for renting pocket wi-fi: Japan Wireless
Within the years, several operators have started to offer prepaid and rental data SIM cards for foreigners. One advantage of using a sim-card is that they offer you other additional options such as SMS and telephone services. Using sim-card is most suitable when you are traveling alone. Some well-known operators providing prepaid data sim-cards are: B-mobile (3,980 JPY, 1 GB, 14 days, data only or 9,980 JPY with voice calls transmission), NTT Communications Prepaid SIM (3,218 JPY for 7 days or 3,780 JPY for 14 days), and BIC SIM Japan Travel SIM (2,460 JPY, 1 GB for 30 days or 3,780 JPY, 2 GB for 3 months). Most of the data sim-cards can be purchased online at provider websites or you can find it in the retail shops such as Yodobashi Camera, Bic Camera, Don Quijote, as well as in the convenient store (Lawson, 711, SunKus, Family Mart). However, you must be aware that not all devices would be compatible with the Japanese sim-card. Make sure to check your device capability and ask the stores before purchasing one.
Some operators provide access to its wi-fi access points nationwide, for example SoftBank Free Wi-fi let you connected to many wi-fi points in airport, train stations, cafes, and restaurants. To receive their services, once you find Free Wi-Fi Passport by Softbank sign, connect to the “Softbank” service from the network menu then follow the guidelines to call a toll-free number to receive username and password. No application needed, and one user account can be used up to five devices.
In several major stations, for example, JR East and JR West also provide free wi-fi connection. A user ID and password can be obtained by registering online or visiting the ticket office counters. And last but not least, just look for the Free Wi-fi signs in many convenience stores throughout Japan. Lawson, Family Mart, 7/11, and some Matsumoto Kiyoshi stores offer their free internet connection that can be accessed for some period of time.
So those are some best options to be connected to the internet while you are in Japan, but other options are also available. You can look for internet cafes or other coffee shops with free wi-fi (though it is not easy to find) to enjoy internet connection while having some afternoon tea or coffee. Having an internet connection in Japan is very useful; it will let you travel around the city with the help of maps, let you commute with the help of commuting apps, and also let you use the translation site once you are lost and if you can not speak any Japanese!