With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, hotspots offering free WiFi in Japan are becoming much easier to access.
Among notable changes, since 2015 Mount Fuji climbers can access free WiFi at the top of Japan’s most iconic mountain, and starting 2018, all Shinkansen bullet trains are slowly but surely getting equipped with free travel WiFi services for commuters in Japan.
Despite this renewed interest in making the city more appealing for tourists, it is still sometimes a challenge to find and connect to a free hotspot in Japan.
Keep reading to learn where you can find free WiFi hotspots in Japan, important points to consider when using them, and a reliable alternative to these sometimes risky, free Japan WiFi connections.
Best Japan Free WiFi and Hotspot Locations
Need to know where the most reliable free internet is while traveling in Japan? Listed below are some of the best locations to find hotspots for free WiFi in Japan.
Convenience Stores with Free WiFi in Japan
Convenience stores are everywhere in Japan. You can’t walk more than a few hundred meters in Tokyo without finding one, which makes them the perfect place to host free WiFi.
Each store has their own restrictions and you may only be able to use their connections a few times a day, but speeds will usually be sufficient enough for checking your email in a pinch.
Coffee Shops with Free Japan WiFi Access Hotspots
If you’re a world traveller, you might be surprised at how few cafés and restaurants offer WiFi to customers in Japan.
The reason is simple—Japanese mobile networks are so fast and coverage is so good that there is little need for locals to use free WiFi services.
Despite the recent interest in improving the tourist experience through WiFi coverage, this is still true for many smaller cafés and restaurants.
Regional chains like Ginza Renoir may also offer WiFi, depending on the location. Coffee shops in more popular tourist areas are more likely to offer WiFi to customers.
Free WiFi in Japan Hotels is Common, but Not Too Common
While many hotels in Japan offer internet service free of charge for private guest rooms, others may charge a daily fee for web access.
Smaller hotels and traditional Japanese inns may only offer free WiFi access in lobby areas, or sometimes may not even offer internet access at all.
Japan Train Stations with Free WiFi Access
As part of the Tokyo Olympics push, many of the train stations in and around the Tokyo area have started offering free WiFi to customers.
Connecting to this network can be a chore, though, as stations will usually only have one or two routers out of sight and difficult to find, making the connection spotty at best.
It is important to note that WiFi is not available on the trains themselves, so once you leave the station, your WiFi connection will be lost and you’ll have to reconnect at either your destination station, or at each short stop along the way.
Each of the train networks uses their own unique system, so if you think you might need to rely on station WiFi, be sure to do some research before you leave. Below is a list of free WiFi services in Tokyo area train stations:
- JR East: https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pdf/free_wifi_02_e.pdf
- JR West: https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/wifi/pdf/guide.pdf
- JR Central: http://english.jr-central.co.jp/info/wireless/index.html
- Tokyo Metro: http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/tips/freewifi/index.html
- Toei Subway: https://www.kotsu.metro.tokyo.jp/eng/tips/free_wi-fi.html
- Odakyu: https://www.odakyu.jp/english/support/wifi/
Japan Airports with Free WiFi Access
Japan’s major airports offer free WiFi, but these connections do not include any kind of security. For better security and session encryption, paid WiFi services are also available for a typically smaller upcharge. The following airports in Japan offer free WiFi:
- Narita International
- Tokyo International (Haneda)
- KIX (Osaka)
- Fukuoka Airport
- Sapporo New Chitose Airport
- Chubu International
Japan Paid and Free WiFi Hotspots in Tokyo Areas
Free WiFi hotspot access in Tokyo is being introduced at select tourist destinations. The locations are currently limited, but some of the most popular destinations such as Shibuya and Ginza are covered, with more areas being added regularly.
Some of them are not free, but if you’re caught without the internet and absolutely need access, you may have no choice but to pay the necessary WiFi access fees.
Find Japan Hotspots Easily with a Free WiFi Application
Before you arrive, make sure to download the Japan Connected free WiFi application for Android and iOS. This will give you access to most of the WiFi networks mentioned above without the hassle of entering your details every single time.
What Are the Downsides of Hotspots and Free WiFi in Japan?
From researching tourist destinations to booking tickets, the internet is essential to keeping your life and schedule on track.
Whether you are checking into a hotel or booking your next train ticket, you’re going to need a stable and reliable connection, which is where free hotspots may let you down.
Japan Free WiFi Access Problem #1: Slow Speeds and Unreliable Connections
The slow speed or intermittent connection may limit you from being able to access the information you need when you need it.
If you find yourself using online services like Google maps you will need definitely need a mobile internet connection. Hopping between hotspots is a nuisance and will likely get in the way of enjoying your travels.
Japan Free WiFi Access Problem #2: Security Risks and Privacy Invasion
The biggest problem with free hotspots, however, is the issue of security. Since data security is more important than ever, it is crucial to understand that even in a reputedly safe country like Japan, free WiFi hotspots carry risks.
You have no control over who can see your data, and other users can potentially see the websites you’re using. When using a free WiFi hotspot, whether in Japan or anywhere else, you should never do anything that requires entering passwords or other sensitive information, such as using your credit card or logging into your email.
If you’re conscious about data security, free WiFi hotspots in Japan become far less useful. If you’re not, your information is potentially at risk.
The Solution to Unreliable Free WiFi in Japan
For visitors to Japan looking to use their mobile devices while on the move, the best solution to unreliable free WiFi is a Pocket WiFi router from Sakura Mobile.
These routers are password protected with WPA2 encryption, meaning no one else can access your information. The routers use the NTT DoCoMo network which offers fast LTE speeds across all major cities in Japan, perfect for when you need to book flights, train tickets or a hotel, check reservations safely, or do any number of time-sensitive tasks.
Sakura Mobile offers flexible plans that are perfect for visitors. You do not have to worry about being disconnected if you accidentally go over your data limit, and if you need help or have any questions, all support and instructions are readily available in English.
Pickup is also quick and easy. You can choose to have your router delivered to Narita or Haneda airport, straight to your hotel, or even a local post office.
The Sakura Mobile stores are open until the last flight of the day at Narita, while Haneda offers a 24-hour counter service so you can get connected the second you land, whenever you land.
You can return your router just as easily with the included prepaid envelope—just drop it into any post box anywhere in Japan.
The Best Pocket WiFi Japan Has to Offer
Japan WiFi hotspots can be handy in a pinch, giving you access to the internet as a last resort. However, with the lack of available locations, their unreliability, slow speeds, and data safety concerns, they are better suited for simple tasks like checking the weather or reading the news.
Thus, Free WiFi in Japan may not be the best option for important tasks.
For important things like navigating cities, meeting people and reserving hotels and restaurants, you need something safe and more reliable, like the Sakura Mobile Pocket WiFi router.