Internet in Japan: travel with or without Wi-Fi pocket?

Since the Internet began, travel has never been easier, and this is especially true in Japan. Find your way around, book a room, find a restaurant: we have all become so dependent on the web that a stay without a connection is difficult to imagine. Don’t worry, I’m just like you! In this article, I present two ways to stay online: the cheap version and the comfort version, it’s up to you!

Rent a Wi-Fi pocket in Japan: an essential!

What is the Wi-Fi pocket, what is it?

The Wi-Fi pocket is a box that connects to Japan’s mobile network, and in return sends a Wi-Fi signal that you can receive. It’s nothing more than a small pocket modem that you’ll take with you. And I can tell you that it changes everything! No need to wander around the city like a zombie to find a konbini and get a free connection. You can check https://www.my-webspot.com/ for more information about the portable Wi-Fi device. The device fits in the pocket and has its own battery (remember to recharge it at night so that it doesn’t run dry the next day). Many people can also connect on it without worries; it’s really convenient when travelling in a group or with family. During my last stay in the spring, I had the opportunity to test a Wi-Fi pocket in partnership with the Keikaku agency.

Free Internet in Japan

Avoid the off-package

Before we start talking about free Internet, let’s talk about off-package first! To avoid a bad surprise on the invoice on return, it is important to remember to disable your access to 4G networks (Orange Square in the photo). With my Bouygues Telecom operator, the mobile Internet rate is €10/MB, with a maximum of €60 overrun. In other words, the slightest connection of an application in the background breaks the ceiling in a few minutes. I therefore advise you to cut off your accesses as soon as you leave for France to be at peace.

Connection in the evening, the easy solution

The first possibility is to connect to the network of your hotel or apartment (that’s info!). The quality of the flow is generally excellent and you can easily rest in your bed while surfing the web. If you rent Airbnb accommodation, guests often provide Wi-Fi access with limited speeds. Indeed, the cost of Internet packages is very expensive in Japan (almost triple the cost of France), and owners do not always invest in the most expensive packages. If you rent the apartment at the end of the month, it is very likely that the previous tenants have already exhausted the whole package… After having had 3 bad experiences of this kind, I recommend that you read the comments of the Airbnb apartment carefully to check the quality of the connection. If in doubt, consider that you do not have a network with your home.

Take advantage of the proliferation of free hotspots in Japan

Another way to access the Internet at a low cost is through Wi-Fi hotspots that abound all over the city. They can be found in all metro stations, main stations, many tourist sites, shopping malls, and even temples. Some streets or entire districts are even equipped with municipal networks! Another essential meeting place is the konbini, the local mini-market. The 7eleven chain has its own network (7spot). If we add to this the Wi-Fi points of the major restaurant and cafe chains (Mac Do, Starbucks…) but also more and more independent establishments that offer this service, we get Japanese cities literally gridded by free web access.

The only downside is that the quality of the connection is not always at the top. Some access points are closer with the 52 kbits modem of my teenage years than a 4G network worthy of the name. You must also identify yourself each time by indicating your email address and accept the terms of use. It’s not complicated (screenshots below) but it quickly becomes cumbersome when it comes to connecting to several different networks in the same day.

Free Internet in Japan, for what use?

During my first trips, I always managed more or less well because:

  • I am an organizational psychopath and Excel table psychopath with plans A, B and… C. With this in mind, you don’t need to consult Google on the spot to find out what to do with my day. I also prepare my journeys well in advance; I look for transport schedules to be as independent as possible.
  • I don’t have the reflex to constantly consult tripadvisor to find a good restaurant. In principle, I let myself be carried away by the window and the smells; it is more than enough to make excellent culinary discoveries.

To find my way around, I use the free MAPS.ME application which allows me to locate myself without a connection because the application allows me to download in advance the map tracks in the memory of my phone (unlike Google Maps which necessarily requires Internet access).

This access solution is a quick fix: it is still suitable for travellers who are preparing their tours thoroughly or for those who use maps and paper guides in the old-fashioned way. But since then, I’ve tasted the Wi-Fi pocket, and that changes everything!

Accessing to the Internet in Japan
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