Japan WiFi Rental: The Essential 10-Minute Guide

wifi in japan

While ordering a Japan WiFi rental may be one of the last things you think about while planning your upcoming trip, it’s an essential consideration to make. And once you begin researching your WiFi options, it’s quite possible that figuring out which plan is best for your trip will be all the more confusing. Look no further than our Essential Guide to Japan WiFi rentals. In just 10 minutes you’ll arm yourself with everything you need to know about picking a great data plan that will keep you connected and worry free throughout your trip to Japan. Let’s get started!

The 5 Things You Need to Know:

  1. 4 Biggest Myths of WiFi in Japan

  2. How to Get WiFi in Japan

  3. Choosing the Right WiFi Device

  4. Pay-As-You-Go vs. Unlimited Data

  5. Best Japan WiFi Rental for Travelers

 

The 4 Biggest Myths of WiFi in Japan

Here are the four biggest assumptions travelers usually make about WiFi in Japan.

Myth

My smartphone will work while I’m traveling around Japan.

Truth

As convenient as this idea sounds, simply turning on your smartphone after your plane lands and expecting to get a WiFi signal doesn’t happen in Japan. The country’s network of data carriers is run on a blocked system that severely limits access by smartphones and tablets not purchased in Japan making an extra hurdle for travelers.

Myth

Tokyo is the world’s largest city. I can find free hotspots on every street corner.

Truth

Long story short, no. Because over the years Japan developed their WiFi availability on portable WiFi router rentals and paid SIM cards, Japanese citizens have little demand for free WiFi available to all.

Myth

Japan is the most technologically advanced country in the world. I can find a strong signal anywhere.

Truth

Japan is a world leader in state-of-the-art technology, but that doesn’t mean that a strong signal is guaranteed. You still have to be careful about which of Japan’s big three carriers (Docomo, SoftBank, au) you are using if you rent WiFi for your trip.

Myth

If my smartphone or tablet doesn’t work when I arrive at the airport, I can easily buy a cheap, disposable flip phone or data SIM.

Truth

This myth can cause a big headache when you realize that it often takes already having access to WiFi in Japan to be able to research where you can get access to WiFi in Japan (this is what you might call a catch-22 or chicken-and-egg scenario). Furthermore, most tourist WiFi rentals require advanced booking before your trip. If you decided to get a plan that provides access the same day you need it, you are likely to be charged a premium of 200-300% more than what you would pay if you had booked ahead of your trip.

How to Get WiFi in Japan

For travellers coming to Japan there are three main ways to get WiFi for your trip.

Searching for Free WiFi in Japan

“Free” always sounds good and is so tempting to rely on when traveling abroad. While free WiFi is possible to stumble upon in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s by no means easy to find. When you do hit the “free WiFi” jackpot (and in Japan it can feel like winning the lottery), you’ll usually find your surrounding environment less than desirable. Standing next to screeching subway trains or side-by-side with salary men in convenience store (commonly called “konbini”) makes Skyping with friends or surfing the Internet a little less enjoyable. There is also a serious point to mention here, which is that connecting your smartphone, tablet or laptop to a public hotspot (free or paid) opens you up to the possibility of having suspicious persons gain unauthorized access to your device. Note that the safety problem with public WiFi is true no matter where you live or travel in the world; not just Japan. In our opinion it’s better to be safe than sorry and rent secure WiFi in Japan.

Booking a Japan WiFi Rental

Why consider a Japan WiFi rental over free hotspots? Apart from what was just mentioned above, having access to WiFi at your fingertips (just like you do at home), shouldn’t stop once you’ve arrived in Japan. Considering all of the costs it takes to travel across the globe, book hotels, pay for transportation, buy meals, enjoy Japan’s rich culture and entertainment-the cost of renting WiFi for your trip is just a fraction of a percent of your overall costs. And it helps you get the most out of your trip! There are 2 WiFi rental options you can consider based on your WiFi needs and the devices you’ll be using.

Mobile WiFi Router

SIM Card

Computer, Smartphone, Tablet, Kindle, etc.

Supported Devices

Smartphone, Tablet
Requires frequent charging

Battery Life

No charging required
Good right out of the box

Setup

Requires changing device settings
Solo traveler + Multiple devices Group travelers

Best Use

Solo traveler + 1 SIM device

Buying WiFi in Japan

The main difference between buying vs. renting WiFi is that you will pay a premium when buying a SIM card (look at the prices below) since company’s offering this option know it’s an emergency purchase. Also, you will likely find that the “top up” option (which is buying more data when you run out) is equally price gouging. It’s important to note that buying WiFi is only available for SIM-compatible devices.

Rent WiFi

Buy WiFi

3 GB SIM Card

Data

1 GB SIM Card
\1,500

Price per GB

\4,000
\1,500

1 GB Top Up

\3,700

Comparing Japan WiFi Rental Plans

Once you’ve decided to book a Japan WiFi rental it can be hard to choose between all of the companies out there promoting their services as the best. The truth is that one shoe does not fit all sizes. For example, someone coming to Japan on a budget trip doesn’t need to rent the same amount of data as a family of three bringing 5 WiFi-capable devices. Likewise, an otaku blogger staying in Akihabara is likely to go through data much faster than someone attending a Buddhist meditation retreat in the rural mountains. It’s very important to understand your needs before you begin booking a Japan WiFi router or SIM card rental, but what should you consider?

  1. Length of Travel
  2. Number of Travelers
  3. Type of Devices

5-7 Day Trip

Travelers

Devices

WiFi Solution

One Person

Solo

smartphone

Smartphone

3 GB SIM

3 GB SIM Card

Computer

Laptop

3 GB Router

3 GB Mobile Router

Two People

+2

2 smartphone

2 Smartphones

2 3 GB SIM

3 GB SIM Card (x2)

Computer Smartphone

Laptop + Smartphone

5 GB Router

5 GB Mobile Router

Three People

+3

3 smartphones

3 Smartphones

3 3 GB SIM 3 GB SIM Card (x3)
Computer Tablet Smartphone

Laptop + Tablet + Smartphone

7 GB Router

7 GB Mobile Router

Family

+4

Computer Tablet 2 Smartphones

Multiple Devices

10 GB Router

10 GB Mobile Router

WiFi Data Plans: Pay-As-You-Go vs. Unlimited

So you’ve decided between renting a SIM card and a mobile WiFi router. The next step is to choose which company you want to rent from. Here is where things can get confusing. At some point you will realize that some companies offer fixed data (you pay per gigabyte of data) and other companies offer unlimited data (you pay for data by the day). Both types of data plans have their pros and cons and it really depends on what you need for your trip.

Pay-as-you-go Plans

vs.

Unlimited Plans

Yes

Guaranteed Speed

Limited
No

Daily Usage Limit

Yes
No

Throttling

Yes
Audio Streaming E-mail Google Maps Facebook Video Streaming Web Browsing Skype & Line Uploading & Downloading

Consistent Access

Audio Streaming E-mail Google Maps Facebook
Heavy Data Users

Good For

Basic WiFi Needs

Beyond SIM card vs. WiFi router and Pay-as-you-go vs. Unlimited Data, there are two additional considerations when booking a WiFi plan for Japan.

1. Will the plan provide coverage where and when you need it?

Knowing whether or not a specific WiFi plan will cover you where you need it is much harder to find an answer to. Looking at the images below, you can see that even in Japan’s major metropolitan areas, coverage and reliability between Japan’s big three carriers (Docomo, SoftBank and au) is very different with Docomo covering the largest area.

Tokyo & Osaka Coverage

(between Docomo, SoftBank, au)

tokyo coverage
Tokyo Coverage
osaka coverage
Osaka Coverage

If you’re travel plans include touring Japan’s picturesque countryside or any of the country’s lesser populated areas, then choosing a rental plan backed by a carrier with strong coverage becomes even more important. Currently, Docomo provides reliable connections with the widest coverage in Japan’s major cities as well as in the countryside.

2. Does the pay-as-you-go rental plan offer a “top up” service at an affordable price?

Topping up, or adding more data to your plan after you run out, is an often overlooked feature when choosing a WiFi rental plan. You may not think that it’s possible to go through 3GB of data in 7 days but if you’re a heavy user who gets stuck waiting due to an occasional train delays, standing in the long lines at Tokyo Disneyland, or trying to pass the time while traveling on a bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka, then hitting your data limit can quickly sneak up on you. Before booking your rental, be sure that:

  1. Your plan has the option to top up.
  2. The cost of paying for a top up isn’t a rip off.

Why Choose Sakura Mobile for Your Japan WiFi Rental

japan prepaid sim The rental plans offered through Sakura Mobile have been customized to provide the greatest value for anyone who feels that staying connected is an essential part of their daily lives. If the idea of leaving your smartphone turned off during your trip seems like a sacrifice or an inconvenience, then we’re sure you will find exactly what you need with one of our 7 available data plans priced at the best value in Japan!

Renting WiFi with Sakura Mobile

Sakura Blossom

Devices You Want: Portable WiFi Routers and Data SIM Rentals

Sakura Blossom

Plans ranging from 3 GB up to 10 GB

Sakura Blossom

Widest coverage through the Docomo network

Sakura Blossom

Top ups starting at 1,500 yen per 1GB

Sakura Blossom

Full English support before and after you book

Sakura Blossom

Most competitive value per GB of data

Sakura Blossom

Emergency next-day pickup at our Shinjuku office location

If you’re ready to book your Japan WiFi rental, we invite you to head over to our SIM card & portable WiFi router page and join our quickly growing list of satisfied international customers. Safe travels, and don’t forget to book your WiFi device before arriving in Japan-you’ll be happy you did!

Sakuramobile SIM Card
Sakuramobile WiFi router

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