Compare the Top 7 Internet Providers in Japan | Best Plans With English Support

Compare the Top 7 Internet Providers in Japan | Best Plans for Foreign Residents

Home internet in Japan is complicated. The details of the services and terms of the contracts can be so complex that even native Japanese speakers have trouble understanding them.

However, settling for a large internet provider just because you don’t understand the fine print can be a dangerous decision.

Most internet providers in Japan require their customers to enter a two-year contract. This means that you may end up having to pay a penalty if you try to cancel the services early.

There is also the risk of getting extra add-ons put into your plan, causing your monthly fees to be much more expensive than you were originally expecting.

To help those of you who are struggling, this article will explain all you need to know about Japan’s home internet services.

We have also included a comparison between some of Japan’s best services to help you inform your decision of what internet provider to choose.

Even if you are not well-informed about the details of internet services and all the technology surrounding them, this article will explain everything without the complicated terminology.

Let’s get started!

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. What are the options for internet in Japan?
  2. Comparing the top 7 fiber internet providers in Japan
  3. Details of the 7 internet providers
  4. Which internet provider should I choose?
  5. FAQ about fiber internet
  6. Useful vocabulary
  7. Final thoughts

A quick look: Which internet provider should I choose?

1. What are the options for internet in Japan?

1. What are the options for internet in Japan?
If you are looking for the internet for your home, you have two options: fiber internet (wired internet) or pocket WiFi (wireless internet).

What is fiber internet? And pocket WiFi?

Fiber internet works with fiber-optic lines and is physically brought to your house or apartment.

With fiber internet, the internet speeds will be very fast, anywhere between 100 and 700Mbps (actual measured value). In addition, fiber internet does not have a set amount of usable data, making it easy to use without having to worry about data caps.

We referred to fiber internet as “wired internet” in order to compare it to pocket WiFi, but you will also be able to use fiber internet wireless inside your home by using a WiFi router.

 

What is fiber internet? And pocket WiFi?
WiFi router for fiber internet

 

Pocket WiFi, on the other hand, uses a mobile network, making it slower than fiber internet. There are also data caps that cause your pocket WiFi to become even slower when you have used up the allocated data.

However, one major benefit of pocket WiFi is that you can take the device with you outside of the house, allowing you to have WiFi wherever you go. The term, “Pocket WiFi” is specific to Japan; in other places, it is referred to as, “portable WiFi” or a “mobile hotspot”.

 

What is fiber internet? And pocket WiFi?
Pocket WiFi

 

Here is a basic comparison of these two types of internet services.

Scroll right for more →→

Fiber InternetPocket WiFi
Internet SpeedHighLow to Mid
CostMid to HighLow to High
MobilityUsed Only at HomeUsed Anywhere
Data CapUnlimitedUp to 100 GB/Month

Which one should I choose?

In Japan, fiber internet is the popular choice. This is because users can enjoy high-speed internet without having to worry about data limits.

If you are torn between the two options, we recommend you get fiber internet.

However, if you want to prioritize the ability to do work anywhere, watch Netflix on the go, or use large amounts of data even when you are out of the house, then pocket WiFi is the way to go.

In the current article, we will be covering the details of fiber internet, which is widely used in Japan.

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2. Comparing the top 7 fiber internet providers in Japan

. Comparing the top 7 fiber internet providers in Japan

Scroll right for more →→

Service NameMonthly Fee*Initial Fee*Contract LengthMaximum Internet
Connection Speed
English SupportType of Fiber NetworkCoverage
Sakura Fiber Internet7,128 JPY7,700 ~ 29,700 JPY3 Months1 GbpsFull English SupportNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
SpinNet5,500 ~ 14,300 JPY11,440 ~ 27,280 JPYUnknown1 GbpsSome English SupportNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
Asahi Net6,358 JPY20,680 JPY2 Years1 GbpsSome English SupportNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
SoftBank Hikari7,322 JPY5,500 ~ 29,700 JPY2 Years1 GbpsJapanese OnlyNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
au Hikari6,270 JPY44,550 JPY2 Years1 GbpsJapanese Onlyau Hikari60%
NURO Hikari5,217 JPY47,300 JPY2 Years2 GbpsJapanese OnlyNURO Hikari40%
docomo Hikari5,720 JPY23,100 JPY2 Years1 GbpsJapanese OnlyNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
  • *All prices listed include tax.
  • *The monthly fee includes the base fee, ISP fee, and WiFi router rental.
  • *The monthly fee is a comparison of the house-type fiber internet option of each provider.
  • *The initial fee includes the administrative fee and installation fee.
  • *This chart does not include smartphone bundle discounts and other discounts that require specific conditions to be met.

Does this give you an idea as to which service to choose?

We will now go into more detail about the necessary knowledge to have when choosing an internet service, such as the internet connection speed, data cap, and fees.

About the types of fiber networks

In Japan, there are three major fiber-optic networks: NTT FLET’S Hikari, au Hikari, and NURO Hikari. Out of the three, NTT FLET’S Hikari is the most widely used.

Because NTT EAST/WEST is the largest telecommunication company in Japan, the network also has the highest coverage rate. Many internet providers use NTT FLET’S Hikari and offer a variety of plans, which are popular with customers.

Internet connection speed

We assume that you want to use the internet at the fastest possible speed.

As you might have noticed, all the internet providers listed on the comparison table above have almost exactly the same internet connection speed. 1 to 2Gbps is the fastest internet speed you will find in Japan.

1 to 2Gbps is the highest internet speed that you could experience only in theory. In reality, your internet speed will be different depending on factors such as the device you are using, the router, and the distance from the base station.

If you choose to use one of the companies on the comparison table, expect your internet speeds to be between 100 to 700Mbps. To give an example, as long as you have 100Mbps of internet speed, you will be able to watch Netflix and play online games without any problems.

Here is a chart that shows the things that you can do with different internet speeds.

Scroll right for more →→

ActivityNecessary Internet Speed
4K Videos/Online Games25 Mbps
Online Meetings10 Mbps
Video Streaming (1080p)5 Mbps
Video Streaming (720p)3 Mbps
Web Browsing/Emails/LINE1 Mbps

You might have noticed that the maximum internet connection speed of NURO Hikari is 2Gbps. This makes NURO Hikari currently the fastest internet service in Japan.

However, the coverage is only 40%. Additionally, if you are living in an apartment, even if your area is covered by NURO Hikari, there are cases in which your apartment may not be.

Data cap

Fiber internet does not have any data caps. Some providers have specific plans for light use that include data caps, but outside of these sorts of plans, you will be able to use fiber internet freely without data limits.

Fees

There are two sets of fees that you must keep in mind when considering fiber internet.

  • Initial fees
  • Monthly fees

In general, initial fees include an administrative fee and an installation fee. You should expect to pay anywhere from 10,000 JPY to 40,000 JPY in total. The initial fees for each service listed in the comparison table include both the administrative fee and the installation fee.

Monthly fees depend on what kind of fiber internet you have installed.

  • Apartment type
  • Single-family house type

If you live in an apartment, you should get the apartment type; if you live in a house, you should get the single-family house type.

Apartment type internet costs around 4,500 to 5,500 JPY, while the single-family house type costs about 5,200 to 7,000 JPY.

In addition, if you want to use WiFi in your house, you will need to rent a WiFi router. It will usually cost between 500 and 1,000 JPY per month.

The monthly fees on the comparison table list the prices of each company’s single-family house type and include the rental fee of the WiFi router.

Contract period

You should take note that in general, getting fiber internet puts you under a 2 to 3-year contract.

To explain the concept further, you will not be able to simply cancel your contract any time after the 2 to 3 years passes. If you wish to cancel the service, you will need to do so at the exact renewal point of the contract. If you try to cancel your contract at any other time, you will be charged a penalty. Kind of a pain, right?

(Ex. 2-year contract)

  • 0 – 23rd month after starting contract → Penalty
  • 24th month after starting contract → No Penalty
  • 25th – 47th month after starting contract → Penalty
  • 48th month after starting contract → No Penalty

The penalty usually costs between 10,000 and 30,000 JPY.

To insert a bit of promotion, Sakura Fiber Internet is the only service listed on the comparison table with full English support and no set contract period. It will be introduced in more detail later in this article.

English support

As you might have observed on the comparison table, there are very few internet providers that offer English support.

As for the companies with “some English support”, you will be able to access an English version of their website, but Japanese is necessary when talking to customer service representatives over the phone or when accessing your user login page.

For those who need full English customer support, Sakura Fiber Internet is recommended.

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3. Details of the top 7 internet providers

3. Details of the top 7 internet providers
Below is a detailed explanation of each internet service.

*The average connection speed listed in each company’s table is based on data from minsoku, a Japanese Internet review site. Minsoku calculates average connection speed based on data from more than 10,000 actual users.

Sakura Fiber Internet

Sakura Fiber Internet

NameSakura Fiber Internet
Monthly fee
(tax inc.)
7,128 JPY
Initial feeFrom 7,700 to 29,700 JPY
Contract length3 Months
Avg. connection
speed
Upload: 206 Mbps
Download: 274 Mbps*
English
support
Full English support
NetworkNTT FLET’S Hikari

*From FLET’S Hikari Next as of 12/22/2021 as listed in Minsoku.

Sakura Fiber Internet is a fiber internet service provided by Sakura Mobile, a provider of phone services for international residents living in Japan.

Although the monthly fee is slightly higher than other companies, there are also some advantages.

  • Full English support is available
  • The minimum usage period is 3 months, after which you can cancel at any time
  • You can rent a WiFi router for free
  • You can rent a pocket WiFi until the internet installation is finished

If you sign up with Sakura Mobile’s phone plan, you can get up to an 18,590 JPY discount on the initial fee.

For those who are interested, click the button below!

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SpinNet

SpinNet

NameSpinNet
Monthly fee
(tax inc.)
5,500 to 14,300 JPY
Initial feeFrom 5,500 to 27,280 JPY
Contract lengthUnknown
Avg. connection
speed
Upload: 206 Mbps
Download: 274 Mbps*
English
support
Some English support
NetworkNTT FLET’S Hikari

*From FLET’S Hikari Next as of 12/22/2021 as listed in Minsoku.

SpinNet is an Internet Service Provider with English support provided by SoftBank.

It uses the FLET’S Hikari network, and you can enjoy stable, high-speed Internet.

If you sign up for fiber internet service with this company, you can earn miles from ANA Mileage Club, a Japanese airline company, every month. ANA is also a member of STAR ALLIANCE, and although the monthly fee is high, you may consider using this service if you are saving your miles.

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Asahi Net

Asahi Net

NameAsahi Net
Monthly fee
(tax inc.)
6,358 JPY
Initial fee20,680 JPY
Contract length2 years
Avg. connection
speed
Upload: 189 Mbps
Download: 232 Mbps*
English
support
Some English support
NetworkNTT FLET’S Hikari

*From AsahiNet Hikari as of 12/22/2021 as listed in Minsoku.

Asahi Net is the internet service provider of the Asahi Shimbun Group and has been in business since 1994.

It is the only one of the major providers that offer customer support in English.

The service fee is average, but with a fixed contract for two years, it is recommended for those who plan to stay in Japan for a long time.

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SoftBank Hikari

Softbank Hikari

NameSoftBank Hikari
Monthly fee
(tax inc.)
7,322 JPY
Initial feeFrom 5,500 to 29,700 JPY
Contract length2 years
Avg. connection
speed
Upload: 214 Mbps
Download: 317 Mbps*
English
support
Japanese only
NetworkNTT FLET’S Hikari

*From SoftBank Hikari as of 12/22/2021 as listed in Minsoku.

This is an Internet service provided by SoftBank, one of the three major mobile carriers in Japan.

If you use this service with a SoftBank phone, you can save 500 JPY per month on your phone bill. So, if you have a phone contract with SoftBank, you should consider this service

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au Hikari

au Hikari

Nameau Hikari
Monthly fee
(tax inc.)
6,270 JPY
Initial fee44,550 JPY
Contract length2 years
Avg. connection
speed
Upload: 362 Mbps
Download: 421 Mbps*
English
support
Japanese only
Networkau Hikari

*From au Hikari as of 12/22/2021 as listed in Minsoku.

This is a fiber internet service provided by au, the second-largest mobile carrier in Japan.

au Hikari uses its own line, and the line is not congested, so the communication speed is fast. However, there is a disadvantage in that the coverage area is limited.

Areas not serviced by au Hikari

  • Shizuoka, Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Wakayama, Nara, Shiga, and Okinawa.

Also, if you live in an apartment, you may not be able to use au Hikari even if it is within the service area because the special au equipment is not installed in your apartment.

If you live in an apartment and want to use au Hikari, please check with your apartment manager to see if you can use au Hikari.

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NURO Hikari

NURO Hikari

NameNURO Hikari
Monthly fee
(tax inc.)
5,217 JPY
Initial fee47,300 JPY
Contract length2 years
Avg. connection
speed
Upload: 449 Mbps
Download: 503 Mbps*
English
support
Japanese only
NetworkNURO Hikari

*From FLET’S Hikari Next as of 12/22/2021 as listed in Minsoku.

NURO Hikari is a fiber internet service provided by So-net, a member of the SONY group. It uses its own line and provides the fastest communication speed in Japan.

You may not realize this super-speed while using the Internet in a normal way, such as YouTube or browsing.

However, if you are playing online games with several people at the same time, NURO Hikari should reduce the lag.

As with au Hikari, the service area is limited, so check it out if you are interested

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docomo Hikari

docomo Hikari

Namedocomo Hikari
Monthly fee
(tax inc.)
5,720 JPY
Initial fee23,100 JPY
Contract length2 years
Avg. connection
speed
Upload: 209 Mbps
Download: 268 Mbps*
English
support
Japanese only
NetworkNTT FLET'S Hikari

*From FLET’S Hikari Next as of 12/22/2021 as listed in Minsoku.

This is fiber internet provided by docomo, the largest phone carrier in Japan.

The monthly fee is relatively cheap, and if you sign up with a docomo smartphone, the monthly fee for your smartphone will be 500 JPY cheaper.

If you have a docomo phone plan, you should consider it.

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SoftBank Air

SoftBank Air

NameSoftBank Air
Monthly fee
(tax inc.)
5,368 JPY
Initial fee3,300 JPY
Contract length2 years
Avg. connection
speed
Upload: 6 Mbps
Download: 49 Mbps*
English
support
Japanese only
NetworkWireless City Planning

*From FLET’S Hikari Next as of 12/22/2021 as listed in Minsoku.

Next to be introduced is SoftBank Air, which is a service that requires no installation and can be used immediately after receiving.

Unlike fiber internet, SoftBank Air allows you to start using your home wifi router as soon as you receive it.

Note that SoftBank Air uses the mobile network of Wireless City Planning Inc. instead of the SoftBank network.

The communication speed is much slower than that of fiber internet, and the coverage area is narrower than Softbank’s network. Please check if your area is covered.

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4. Which internet provider should I choose?

4. Which internet provider should I choose?
We believe that the following situations may apply to you:

  • You want to avoid the commitment of a two-year contract and the penalty fee
  • You are not confident in your Japanese abilities
  • You still want to use the highest possible quality of fiber internet in Japan

Then we recommend that you go with Sakura Fiber Internet.

Apologies for the plug 🙂

However, we’d like you to know that there are multiple reasons that we can recommend Sakura Fiber Internet.

Features of Sakura Fiber Internet:

  • Fast Internet Connection
  • No 2-Year Binding Contract
  • Reliable English Support
  • Simple, Stress-Free Installation
  • Various Payment Methods

Sakura Fiber Internet covers over 90% of the populated area, but that means that it’s not available in some areas.
Before deciding, check if the service is available at your address here.

For those who do not think Sakura Fiber Internet is a good fit

We’re sorry to hear that 🙁

However, we also understand that there are cases in which other internet providers are a better fit for your needs. For example, if the following apply to you:

  • You don’t mind the two-year contract commitment
  • You have a good understanding and can communicate in Japanese
  • You want to sign a contract with a low monthly fee

Then we recommend that you go with a service such as au Hikari, SoftBank Hikari, or docomo Hikari.

The monthly fee for au Hikari, SoftBank Hikari, and docomo Hikari will be 500 JPY cheaper if you sign up with a smartphone. If you prefer, choose your internet provider according to the phone plan you have a contract with.

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5. FAQ about fiber internet

5. FAQ about fiber internet

After I’ve applied, how long do I have to wait before I can use the internet?

After you apply for fiber internet, you should expect to wait between 2 weeks to 1 month before you can start to use the service. Here is what the installation schedule looks like:

Apply on the internet provider’s website

↓ 2 – 3 days

You will receive a call from the internet provider informing you whether or not they cover your area of residence, what kind of installation procedures you need, and an estimate of how much your total costs will be.

↓ Between 2 weeks and 1 month

An electrician will visit your apartment and install your internet.
You can start using the fiber internet service!

With Sakura Fiber Internet, you can rent a pocket WiFi device until you are able to use your fiber internet.

How do I set up WiFi in my house?

In order to use WiFi in your home, you must have a WiFi router.

How do I set up WiFi in my house?

With Sakura Fiber Internet, the router rental fee is included in the monthly fee, so you do not have to prepare anything yourself.

For your reference, here is the instruction video for setting up Sakura Fiber Internet.

Click below to play YouTube video↓↓

 Can I use ADSL or cable internet in Japan?

Yes, you can use both ADSL and cable internet in Japan. However, it is not recommended.

This is because ADSL and cable internet are much older types of communication technology, and the quality is considerably worse than fiber internet. You will experience slow internet connection speeds and there are data caps in many cases.

ADSL services are also set to be terminated in 2023.

You may want to consider using ADSL and TV cable internet only if your area of residence is outside the coverage area of Japan’s fiber internet services.

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6. Useful vocabulary

6. Useful Vocabulary
Here are some Japanese terms that are useful to know when you sign up for fiber internet in Japan. If you want to sign up with a provider that does not have English support, it is helpful to remember these terms.

  • 光回線 (hikari-kaisen)
    Hikari-kaisen is a fiber-optic internet. The word “hikari” means fiber-optic and “kaisen” means internet. Sometimes “hikari-kaisen” is abbreviated to just “hikari”. For example, SoftBank HIKARI is the brand name of fiber internet provided by SoftBank.
  • 無線(musen)
    無線 (musen) means “wireless” and refers to an internet connection using a wireless router.
  • 有線 (yusen)
    有線(yusen)is an antonym for wireless, which refers to an internet connection using a LAN cable.
  • フレッツ (flets)
    FLET’S is the brand name of the optical fiber line provided by NTT.
  • 戸建て (kodate)
    A house. Usually for a family with many rooms, detached from other living places.
  • アパート (apaato)
    An apaato is an apartment where several people live. The word “apaato” in Japanese tends to mean an apartment with relatively low rent. Usually, an apaato is 2-3 stories tall and is constructed of wood and light-gauge steel. Residents do not own their units, but usually rent.
  • マンション (manshon)
    A manshon is an apartment that is at least 3-stories tall and is constructed using a steel frame, reinforced concrete, or a combination of the two. Usually, people who live in a manshon own their unit and vote on decisions about the building.

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7. Final thoughts

7. Final Thoughts
So, did you find the internet provider that best fits your needs?

Feel free to contact us if you have any concerns or questions regarding internet service.

Our team will be happy to support you!

We hope that now you are a little bit more informed about different internet providers in Japan.

Conclusion: Which internet provider should I choose?

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