Getting WiFi in Japan: An Introduction to Pocket WiFi

Have you thought about how you will getting WiFi in Japan during your upcoming trip? You could spend hours researching what you need to know about Japan WiFi, digging through online forum answers that may or may not be true, or you could save time by learning about the benefits of using Pocket WiFi!

Painting a Picture of Poor WiFi in Japan

getting wifi in japan
Photo by IQRemix on Flickr

Unprepared, first-time visitors to Japan can often be easily spotted walking the city streets lost in frustration, searching for a good free signal-even in the heart of Tokyo! Some sit on the platforms of noisy train stations while others loiter in Japanese combini (both places often provide free WiFi). And when a WiFi signal is found, it often includes a high fee with instructions in Japanese; not to mention that it can be dangerous. As “wonderful” as this picture may sound, you can avoid all of these headaches by renting WiFi.

Getting WiFi in Japan with a Pocket WiFi Rental

getting wifi in japan

Pocket WiFi is really the easiest way to get an Internet connection in Japan-it’s easy to rent, set up, carry, recharge, and return-but what is it exactly and how does it work?

  1. What is Pocket WiFi?
  2. How is Pocket WiFi different from a SIM Card?
  3. How many devices can access the Internet on 1 Pocket WiFi?
  4. How portable is Pocket WiFi?
  5. Does Pocket WiFi have a weak coverage area?
  6. Does Japan Pocket WiFi have slow Internet speed?
  7. How can I get Pocket WiFi in Japan?
  8. Where can I rent Pocket WiFi in Japan?
  9. How does Pocket WiFi work in Japan?

1. What is Pocket WiFi?

Pocket WiFi is known by many names:

  • Mobile WiFi
  • Mobile Router
  • Mobile Hot Spot
  • MiFi

These are all the same device, so please don’t be confused. Pocket WiFi is a portable WiFi router, much like a smaller version of the WiFi router you have in your home. You can connect any device that has Internet functionality to Pocket WiFi, including:

  • Smartphones
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • More…

2. How is Pocket WiFi different from a SIM Card?

Both pocket WiFi and a SIM Card are designed to provide you with a connection to the Internet; however, there are differences between the two. One of the big differences is that Pocket WiFi is much simpler to use than a SIM Card. With Pocket WiFi you simply turn it on and connect using a password like you would your home WiFi router. Another big difference is that not all devices are compatible with a Japan SIM Card. With a SIM Card rental, your smartphone or tablet must be unlocked and you have to change the APN setting, which can be confusing if you’re not comfortable with tech terms.

3. How many devices can access the Internet on 1 Pocket WiFi?

One Pocket WiFi Router usually allows you to connect up to 10 devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.). This can’t be done with a SIM Card. So Pocket WiFi is very useful for anyone carrying multiple devices, and it’s popular for people traveling as a family or in groups. Tip: If you’re traveling with only a smartphone, consider a SIM Card instead of a Pocket WiFi. Please note, though, that the SIM Card can usually only be connected to one device, also it cannot be used to connect a laptop to the Internet. (You can check your iPhone SIM Card compatibility here.)

4. How portable is Pocket WiFi?

Pocket WiFi can fit in the palm of your hand and weighs between 100-250 grams (3.5-9 ounces). The battery life for Pocket WiFi varies from 3-10 hours depending on the brand and model. Make sure you check the average battery life for your Pocket WiFi before you order it. Tip: If you want extra battery life for your Pocket WiFi, often you can rent a portable charger from the same company that provides the Pocket WiFi.

5. Does Pocket WiFi have a weak coverage area?

Depending on which carrier your pocket WiFi connects to, the Internet connection quality can differ.

getting wifi in japan

Docomo and Softbank offer the best coverage across Japan, so a Pocket WiFi company using Docomo or Softbank’s services are the best if you are worried about a weak signal, especially in rural areas of Japan, including Kyoto, Nara, Hokkaido, Ise, Izu, Hida-Takayama, Shodoshima, and most of Japan’s onsen resorts and ski resorts.

6. Does Japan Pocket WiFi have a slow Internet speed?

If you choose the right provider. Pocket WiFi in Japan can provide a fast speed, up to 150Mbps; basically, this means that you can surf the Internet, use apps, watch YouTube, and Skype with friends just as quickly in Japan as you can with your home WiFi router. Tip: If you’re a heavy Internet user, be careful with how much data you use with a Pocket WiFi rental as some companies have strict limitation on the daily usage and may purposely slow your connection. (This is called throttling.)

7. How can I get Pocket WiFi in Japan?

There are two ways you can get Pocket WiFi in Japan, but they depend on how long you will be staying in the country.

Short-term Visitors to Japan

“Short-term” is kind of a loose term, but it means “less than 2 years.” If you don’t have plans to stay in Japan that long, then the best way to get Pocket WiFi in Japan is by renting it through a short-term service provider, like Sakura Mobile. Whether staying in Japan for two days or a few months, with a rental service, you will have no complex contracts-simply order online from home, and you will get Pocket WiFi delivered to you where you want when you arrive in Japan. Returning the rented Pocket WiFi is also very easy. So you should have no hassle renting and returning it.

Long-term Stays in Japan

If you plan to stay in Japan for two or more years, then you have more options for getting Pocket WiFi directly from carriers like Docomo, au, and Y!Mobile. You will almost always be required to provide proof of your stay and sign a 2-3 year contract that includes an early cancellation fee. Again, if you’re not planning on staying in Japan for two or more years, this option isn’t available.

Another downside is that at the end of the contract you have to re-sign for another 2-3 years. If you opt out of your contract partway through you will be charged a fee. This means it is not a great option for foreign residents who may have to leave partway through their stay in Japan.

You will not have to pay any early-exit contract fees with SakuraMobile, and you can opt out any time, making this the recommended option.

8. Where can I rent Pocket WiFi in Japan?

There are two ways to rent Pocket WiFi for your trip to Japan. You can either order one online before your trip or you can rent one after you land at the airport. Both Narita Airport and Kansai Airport have rental counters for international tourists. The benefit of ordering before your trip is that you have a lot more options available and the prices are almost always cheaper. Also, if you wait until you land at the airport, you run the risk of the rental counters being out of stock or long lines of other tourists trying, too.

9. How does Pocket WiFi work in Japan?

Renting Pocket WiFi is the simplest way to surf the internet, use your favorite travel apps, and make video calls in Japan. All you need to do is turn it on and then look for the secure signal on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Enter in the provided password to connect and you’re good to go. You can connect many devices at once, which makes it great for family or business trips. Most providers make returning the device easy by including a postage-paid envelope. Just slip the device into the envelope and drop it in a mailbox before you fly back home.

Getting WiFi in Japan Is as Simple as Renting Pocket WiFi

The most important thing to know about getting WiFi in Japan is that it can either be really simple or unbelievably hard; and renting Pocket WiFi happens to be the really easy (and affordable) way! So if you plan to come to Japan for vacation, work or short-term study, then don’t arrive unprepared. Rent Japan Pocket WiFi and travel stress-free.

Sakuramobile SIM Card
Sakuramobile WiFi router

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