Free WiFi is quickly becoming more and more prominent in Japan. Increasingly with the recent influx of tourists and also 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. However, to be honest, being able to access free Wifi consistently in Japan could prove a challenge.
That being said, you may want to consider your own mobile Wifi router or SIM card. This will enable you to have constant connectivity, without the stress of trying to find a reliable free Wifi hotspot.
Free WiFi Apps
There are a few apps provided by several of the larger Japanese telephone and WiFi networks. Here are some key apps that I would like 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 recent reviews seem to share a common view that the app is experiencing some connectivity issues. There were also some complaints about the app having too many ads.
Next, let’s look 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. The app claims there are over 150,000 places that support free WiFi. Going through general feedback for the app seems to be generally quite positive. As a result, this app can help if you need to connect to the internet.
Finally, 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 you can access more than 400,000 hotspots throughout Japan. They provide instructions, including a video that shows you specifically how to connect, which is convenient. 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, it’s not only apps that provide free WiFi service. During your stay, you should also be able to find many places throughout Japan offering a free WiFi service. Specifically for hotels and hostels, they normally offer free WiFi service in either the lobby, your rooms or both. Of course, you should be able to find more details on the accommodation website. Besides, 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 fulfil 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 greater Japan, you will also find the retail chain filling every corner and crevice of the country, or thereabouts. Free WiFi is available in most locations and you check this via their store locator.
Hub or 82 Ale House, is a large chain of British style Pubs which are very foreign-friendly. They have an amazingly cheap happy hour and offer free access to their LAN network to boot. Again, the service is not available at all locations, so you should check first via their shop list. Usually, after your first beverage purchase, the WiFi password will be written on your receipt.
Free Wifi at Transport Hubs and More
Luckily the Japanese tourism organisations, transport companies and the Japanese Government have also caught on. The tourism boom has seen a rise in options and applications to support your travels throughout Japan.
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. This includes stations both above and below ground. Also, you will 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.
The Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) has also 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. It 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 provide free WiFi service. I will continue to maintain and update this list of places, as we add to them below:
- Cafe Byron Bay – Asakusa, Tokyo
- Tokyo Knowledge – Asakusa, Tokyo
- God Chappie – Asakusa, Tokyo
- Medium (Mexican Cuisine) – Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, Tokyo
If you’re planning your travels in Japan, we invite you to join our rapidly expanding Travel in Japan Discussion Group via Facebook.