Being online for 24/7 has become a normal part of our life to such an extent people will get mad when not replying instantly or when being unable to find the quickest way to walk from historical sight A to B.
Even though, I love being offline for hours and not having to worry about finding the correct way and just strolling around cities without overthinking what the rest of the world is doing, I would not agree it is always the best decision. As a solo traveller in a faraway country, I always feel a lot safer when I know I can go online anytime if anything happens or whenever I need to. Just to feel secure!
That is why, in this article, I want to tell you how you can be online in Japan without having the struggle to find the starbucks Hotspot in every city and without breaking the bank on Roaming costs…
Like almost any other country in the world, wifi hotspots in Japan have expanded immensly over the last couple of years. Most restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, museums, airports and train stations of free wifi hotspots nowadays. However, it is said by frequent travelers the Wifi in Japan seems to be less accessible as in other countries. Sign ups are often required and websites are often only in Japanese which can make a free Wifi seem very difficult to connect to and when travelling you simply do not have the time.
Pocket wifi vs Mobile data SIM
Wifi in Japan is available for tourists with 2 options: Pocket Wifi Devices or Mobile Data SIM cards. If you are travelling in a group when multiple people want to be connected on multiple devices, like laptops, tablets and smartphones a pocket Wifi might be a better option, since it will allow you to get online with up to 10 devices at the same time.
However, most people, although sharing a few pictures is always a blast, will not be in the need of being online all the time and only want to use the internet for a few minutes a day.
If you do not want to carry around an extra device to ‘stream’ your wifi, a SIM card might be the better option. (And remember, via Mobile hotspots, you can always share your internet with other devices if necessary).
Buying a Japanese SIM card is pretty difficult if you want a voice and data SIM card, because they are only available for residents who can give proof of address etc. However, limited day Data-SIM cards are available for tourists and fairly easy to get a hold on. You can go to any BIC Camera shop in Japan and ask for a SIM card and multiple option plans, from multiple providers will be available.
Japanese Data SIM options
But wait there is more... The cheapest option around! (+even more cheap with this coupon!)
Since June 2017 DOCOMO inc. (the largest provider of mobile networks in Japan) has released a data SIM service for tourists as well.
However, this is service is a little different from the above providers, which makes it a lot more exciting.
Travellers apply on a website and sign up by filling in their name, birth date and address. Afterwards you buy one of the available plans on their website and the SIM can be picked up at multiple locations such as the Tokyo and Kansai Airports.
There are 2 plans available for a 15 day period each:
· Plan 1000
· Plan 1700.
For each plan, you can earn streaming Mb's by simply watching a few video advertisments or filling out some surveys! You can even do this before heading to Japan and stack up on Mb's for your trip! (10 mb for every survey or video) and get high-speed internet for both plans.
Plan 1000 costs 1000 yen. Plan 1700 which costs, you guessed right, 1700 yen, will give you high-speed internet AND the first 500mb for free. And you can still earn the other Mb's by watching the ads and surveys.
Of course, if you do not want to watch any videos or fill out surveys you can also up your plan by 100 mb for 200 yen or 500 mb for 700 yen!
Conclusion So, in conclusion, Wifi in Japan is available, but may be difficult to access when you are limited in Japanese. I suggest you buy either a Pocket Wifi (see other article) or the Data SIM to be able to connect to the World Wide Web anywhere. I have summarized the most famous providers of Data SIM cards and where to get them and I have explained to you the newest trend in Japanese SIM cards: DoCoMo Japan Welcome SIM! I hope I made your decision a little bit easier!
I absolutely loved using a sim card, so easy, picked it up from my hotel and I was good to go! They also let you know when they receive it so you don't incur any charges. I had pocket wifis in the airbnb's that I was staying in, but it was useful for when I travelled from place to place that I also had data on me as I stayed in quite a few different places! I definitely recommend them both but I decided I would go for a sim card because it was the cheaper option for me and because I tethered it from an old phone to my phone and the other people with me, we were all able to access the internet.
Is it possible to use our country's Whatsapp number with this SIM card? I read that you kind of need to verify your Whatsapp account through SMS but there is no further info. I've checked the FAQ but it doesn't mention anything about this. Thanks!
I used an old phone to put the sim card in and then tethered the internet to use on other phones so I could use my whatsapp! With the whatsapp, it uses your number so I don't think it would be able to work. If you have an old unlocked phone, I recommend using that!