Stay Connected - Japan Internet for Tourists - Feature Image

Ultimate Guide To Staying Connected – Japan Internet For Tourists

Unless you speak Japanese fluently and have an eidetic memory, the Internet is for tourists in Japan.

Google Maps and Google Translate will not work without an active internet connection. What do you do if you get lost or the restaurant menu is in Japanese?

Without the Internet, you are fumbling in the dark!

The Internet is your lifeline in an emergency. It lets you contact family or friends in an emergency or when you need help navigating the city.

I have used Google Translate for doctor visits, to speak with the police, and to translate important documents.

Not only is the Internet essential for emergencies, but it also makes daily life much easier for tourists in Japan. With the help of translation apps and online maps, you can easily communicate with locals and find your way around the country.

This guide will discuss how to stay connected in Japan as a tourist.

Events Hakuba Ultimate Guide To Staying Connected - Japan Internet For Tourists 1

Japan Internet Options

  1. Free Wi-Fi Hotspots
  2. Japanese Sim Cards
  3. Japanese eSim
  4. Pocket Wi-Fi Rental
  5. International Roaming

Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

How To Stay Connected - Japan Internet For Tourists - Free Wifi

Japan being Japan, nothing works quite the way you would expect it. Free Wi-Fi Hotspots are no exception.

Instead of simply walking into a store or cafe and logging into the free internet, you often have to register.

Registration means providing your email and clicking on the link sent to you.

The problem?

Without Internet access, how are you supposed to get access to your email?

This is a minor inconvenience for Japanese residents with access to mobile data. Travelers, on the other hand, are left in the lurch.

Despite the challenges, there are several options for accessing free Wi-Fi hotspots. Some popular free services include:

While free wifi is excellent, you get what you pay for. Before leaving, register and consider a Japanese VPN for improved security.

Japanese SIM Card

How To Stay Connected - Japan Internet For Tourists - Japanese SIM Card

Why settle for just the Internet when you can also get a phone number?

With an unlocked cell phone and a Japanese SIM card, it’s like having a phone in your home country, except it works in Japan.

You can purchase a card online before you leave your home country. They ship the card to you, and when you get to Japan, switch out the card in your phone. Viola, Japanese cell phone.

Is a Japanese SIM card best for me?

This is the best deal if you’re looking for a way to use your current phone with minimal hassle. It’s a great price and allows you to use your phone as if in your home country.

Will a Japanese SIM card work on my phone?

You can use a Japanese SIM card in any unlocked phone that supports the 3G Band 1 (2100MHz) or 4G Band 1 (2100MHz) frequency.

What does “unlocked” mean?

If your device is “unlocked,” it can work with a SIM card from any network. If your device is “locked,” it is restricted to work only on your regular carrier’s network. Your device must be “unlocked” to work with the Japan Unlimited SIM.

How do you know if your phone is unlocked?

If you purchased your device as an “unlocked” or “SIM Free” device from a retailer such as Amazon, then your device is almost certainly already unlocked. If you’re still unsure whether your device is unlocked, contact the store where you purchased your device from.

My device is locked. What can I do?

If your device is locked, it may be possible to get it unlocked – ask your provider.

Best Japanese SIM Cards

  1. Mobal
  2. Sakura Mobile
  3. Nippon SIM for Japan
  4. IIJmio Travel SIM
  5. B Mobile Visitor SIM
  6. Klook

Japanese eSim

How To Stay Connected - Japan Internet For Tourists - Japanese eSIM

An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is built into a mobile device and cannot be removed.

It works just like a SIM card but is programmable. Switching carriers is done by downloading a new eSIM profile onto your phone, often through a QR code.

With an eSIM, there is no need to purchase a SIM card. Your phone can store multiple carrier profiles that can be switched quickly and easily.

How do I get an eSim?

To get an eSim for Japan, your device must support eSim technology. Phones like the iPhone XS and XR, as well as some Android devices, are eSIM compatible. Check with the device manufacturer to confirm your model supports eSIMs. Once you have a compatible device, you can purchase an eSim from a Japanese carrier or a third-party provider.

What are the benefits of using an eSim?

An eSim lets you easily switch between carriers and plans without physically swapping out SIM cards. This is especially helpful for travelers who want to use different carriers in different countries or for those who want the convenience of not having to deal with physical SIM cards.

Additionally, eSims are often smaller and lighter than physical SIM cards, making them easier to handle and transport.

The best eSIM options for travelers in Japan

  1. Airalo
  2. Holafly
  3. Moba
  4. Ubigi
  5. Simoptions

Pocket Wi-Fi Rental

How To Stay Connected - Japan Internet For Tourists - Pocket Wifi

Not everyone needs a Japanese cell phone if you’re with a group.

Groups who travel together may consider renting a pocket Wi-Fi. A pocket Wi-Fi router connects to the Japanese cell network to provide Internet access.

Think of it like connecting to the Wi-Fi at your home. Instead of connecting to the Internet through a LAN cable, the router uses 5G.

Disadvantages of a Pocket Wi-fi

  1. The pocket wifi needs to be charged to work, so you have one more device to think about
  2. If you share a pocket wifi, you all have to be near it to use the Internet.
  3. You won’t get a local phone number so that you will have no phone calls or texts.

Your late-night taxi call might be international roaming and very expensive.

The most significant advantage of pocket wifi is that you can use it to access the Internet if you are traveling as a group. For a group traveling together all the time, this makes it a great option. If you plan to separate, though, be aware that only the people close to the pocket wifi will stay connected.

The best Pocket Wi-Fi options for travelers in Japan

Based on the information from the sources provided, here are the 5 best pocket WiFi providers in Japan:

  1. Ninja WiFi
  2. Japan Wireless
  3. Sakura Mobile
  4. eConnect Japan
  5. Wi-Fi Rental Store

International Roaming

Another option for travelers to Japan is using their own mobile network’s international roaming service. This allows you to use your current phone and data plan abroad without purchasing a separate SIM card or device.

However, international roaming can be costly and should only be used as a last resort. Many mobile networks charge exorbitant fees for global usage, and it’s easy to rack up a massive bill without even realizing it.

Additionally, the quality and speed of your internet connection may vary depending on your mobile network’s partnerships with local service providers. This can result in slow or unreliable connections, which can be frustrating for travelers who rely heavily on their phones for navigation, communication, and other purposes.

Tips for Using International Roaming

If you do choose to use international roaming, here are some tips to help you avoid expensive charges:

  • Contact your mobile network beforehand and ask about their international roaming rates. They may have special packages or add-ons that can save you money.
  • Consider turning off data roaming on your phone and only using Wi-Fi where it is available.
  • Download offline maps or use a navigation app that doesn’t require data.
  • Use messaging and calling apps like WhatsApp, Skype, or Viber instead of traditional texting and calling services. These apps use data rather than minutes to be included in your international roaming package or charged at a lower rate.

How to Choose The Best Internet in Japan

If you plan on staying in Japan for an extended period or need a reliable and fast internet connection, purchasing a SIM card or portable Wi-Fi device may be the best option. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best Internet in Japan:

  • Network coverage: Research which network providers have the best coverage and signal strength in your visiting areas.
  • Data allowance: Determine how much data you will need for your activities (e.g., streaming, downloading, browsing) and choose a plan that offers enough data without breaking the bank.
  • Speed: Look into the maximum speeds different providers offer to ensure a smooth and fast internet experience.
  • Cost: Compare prices between providers to find the most affordable option for your needs.
  • Contract length: Some providers may require a long-term contract, while others offer short-term or pay-as-you-go options. Consider your length of stay and choose a plan that suits your needs.
  • Additional features: Some providers may offer benefits such as free calls, texts, or access to certain apps or services. Take these into account when comparing plans.

Internet Security

While using the Internet in Japan, it’s essential also to consider your online security. Here are some tips to keep your personal information and devices safe:

  • Use one of Japan’s best virtual private networks (VPN) when connecting to a public wireless network. This will encrypt your data and protect it from potential hackers.
  • Be cautious of using public computers or wifi for sensitive tasks such as online banking. These networks may not be secure, and using a personal device on a trusted network is best.
  • Keep your devices and software updated with the latest security updates to prevent vulnerabilities.
  • Avoid using websites or apps requiring sensitive information, such as credit card details, if you are connected to public Wi-Fi. Wait until you are on a secure network before making any online transactions.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for all your accounts, and consider using a password manager to keep them organized and secure.


A reliable internet connection is crucial for a smooth travel experience. Whether staying connected with loved ones, navigating unfamiliar places, or accessing important travel information, having consistent internet access is essential.


How do tourists get the Internet in Japan?

There are several options for tourists in Japan to access the Internet. You can rent a pocket wifi, use international roaming with your current phone plan, or purchase prepaid SIM cards upon arrival at the airport or from vending machines nationwide. Additionally, many accommodations offer free wifi for their guests.

Is Japan’s pocket WiFi unlimited?

It depends on the rental company and the plan you choose. Some pocket wifi options offer unlimited internet, while others have a daily or monthly limit. Make sure to read through the details of your selected plan before renting.

How many people can use Japan’s pocket WiFi?

Most pocket wifi devices in Japan allow up to 5-10 devices to be connected simultaneously, making it a convenient option for group travel. However, the exact number may vary depending on the rental company and your chosen plan. Checking with the company beforehand is recommended if you are traveling with a large group.

Does Japan support eSIM?

Yes, Japan does support eSIM. However, not all devices are compatible with eSIM technology, so checking with your device manufacturer before purchasing an eSIM plan in Japan is recommended.

Can I get a Japanese phone number using an eSIM?

Yes, you can get a Japanese phone number with eSIM. When purchasing an eSIM plan in Japan, you will be assigned a local phone number that can be used for calls and texts within the country.

How do I get a Japanese VPN?

To get a Japanese VPN (Virtual Private Network), you can purchase a subscription from a VPN provider offering Japanese servers or set up your own VPN through a virtual private server in Japan. Some popular VPN providers with Japanese servers include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark.

How common is free WiFi in Tokyo?

Free WiFi is becoming increasingly common in Tokyo. Many public areas, such as major airports, major train stations, and cafes, offer free WiFi for tourists. However, these networks may not always be secure, have slow connection speeds, and may require registration through email.


  1. Sorin

    27th May 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Wifi Hotspots not only in Japan are difficul to be used as many are requesting a plan or to buy a package; that’s why the best option for Japan would be either SIM or a wifi pocket.

    • Mike Humphrey

      28th May 2020 at 8:06 am

      I would agree. I find the hot spots in Japan challenging to use, often they require you to register with an email address which you then have to check in order to register. Pretty hard to do without wifi.

      If you are on a budget and are can survive with intermittent internet than hotspots are an option (the app in the article allows you to register for a large number all at once)

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