Free Wifi – Data Access for the Masses
Free WiFi is quickly becoming more and more prominent in Japan, increasingly with the recent influx in tourists as we approach Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics. Restaurant and cafe owners, mobile phone operators and many other venues are slowly realising the benefits of providing free and reliable WiFi to their patrons.
Free WiFi Apps
There are a few apps provided by several of the larger Japanese telephone and WiFi networks which I think is only natural to introduce.
Firstly, Wi2 provides both an iOS and Android version of their Travel Japan Wi-Fi app, at the time of writing they claim to be able to provide you access to over 200,000 free WiFi spots throughout Japan. However, some of the more recent reviews seem to share a common view that the app is experiencing some connectivity issues and the app has a few too many ads.
Next, let’s look at the at the service provided by NTT with an app aptly called Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi. Similarly, an app for both iOS and Android is available, and at the time of writing claim there is over 150,000 places that support free WiFi. Going through general feedback for the app seems to be generally quite positive, so hopefully this app can help you if you’re in need of data.
Finally, rather than providing a dedicated app like other providers, Softbank has a specific website that explains how to connect to their free WiFi hotspots. The service is available to subscribers for a maximum period of 2 weeks. The website also claims that it you can access more than 400,000 hotspots throughout Japan, and they provide instructions, including a video that shows you specifically how to connect. They also provide individual settings pages with instructions for both iOS and Android phones, to help ease the burden. If any of you have had any success with this service, I would be keen to hear your experience in the comments below.
Free for Guests
Of course, its not only apps that provide a free WiFi service, during your stay at either your hotel, or even cafe of restaurant. You should also be able to find many places throughout Japan offering a free WiFi service. Specifically for hotels and hostels offering a free WiFi service in either the lobby, your rooms or both, you should be able to find more details on the accommodation website. In addition, typical reservation sites like Expedia, hotels.com, booking.com, Agoda, etc generally explain which places include a free WiFi service.
If you’re a fan of coffee, look no further than Starbucks, to fulfill your internet access needs. Luckily, for those who like this kind of coffee, it seems like especially Tokyo has one of these cafes on just about every block. Across Japan you will also find the retail chain filling every corner and crevice of Japan, or thereabouts, and free WiFi is available in most locations. Please check via their store locator.
Hub or 82 Ale House, are a large chain of British style Pubs which are foreign friendly, have amazingly cheap happy hour, and offer free access to their LAN network to boot. Again, the service is not available at all location, so you should check first via their shop list. Usually, after your first beverage purchase, the WiFi password will be written on your receipt.
Luckily the Japanese tourism organisations, transport companies and the Japanese Government have also caught on to the tourist trend. They have started to provide a range of options and applications to support your travels throughout Japan and access to free data.
The train companies including JR West, JR East, JR Central, JR Hokkaido, Tokyo Metro, Toei Transport, Tokyo Airport Limousine Buses and more. As per the links provided for most companies, you should be able to access free WiFi from most Train stations, both above and below ground. In addition, you will also find that WiFi services are available on some bus and Shinkansen (bullet train) services. Please refer to JR East for further info on Shinkansen WiFi.
In response to the dramatic increase in tourism experienced in Japan, the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) has recently launched a new free app for tourists. This is designed to provide information on many things across the country, like destinations, restaurants and ATMs, but also provides a list of places in Japan which provide free WiFi. You can find out more about the app here.
Ultimately, in our places of interest section of this site we are also building a list of places that will support your travels in Japan by providing their patrons with a free WiFi service. I will continue to maintain and update this list of places, as we add to them below: