Japan lags behind many countries when it comes to wifi internet access.
This is mainly because most Japanese have web access on their phone, without the need for wifi. But it is a subject particularly mentioned by overseas visitors to the country, and Japan is making more facilities available.
If you need to stay connected during your trip, here are the options:
HIRING A WIFI ROUTER
Separate Wifi routers are available for hire, so with your own 3G phone switched to wifi, you can get unlimited internet access at a simple per day charge (typically Yen 1,500 – 2,000 per day). This is available from our partners Telecom Square and several other providers.
HIRING A MOBILE PHONE WITH BUILT-IN WIFI ROUTER
These phones are the more up-to-date solution to web access. Available from the major phone hire suppliers and available for pick-up at the airport, these phones have the wifi router inside the phone, avoiding the need to carry 2 gizmos around. But of course the phone number will be different. If you arrange in advance, most hire companies can tell you what your number will be, so you can advise family, friends and business contacts before you go.
PAYING FOR WIFI ACCESS
Wi2connect is good for major cities, giving access to Yahoo BB, mobilepoint and Livedoor Wireless (location search). This covers branches of McDonalds, airports, hotels, stations, airport buses and on board the Bullet train between Tokyo and Yokohama. With a maximum charge of ¥980 ($12) per month for unlimited use, this is a really good deal. To use the network, download and install their application (on the iPhone /iPod touch you need to download and install their free iOS app. (Thanks to Paul Papadimitriou of MobileinJapan for this information).
As with several wifi networks in Japan, sign-up is required. This can be a bit of a fiddle (register your email, get email confirmation, log into your email account by some non-wifi web device to verify, or confirm your email address by phone). But it’s definitely worth considering because there are so many Starbucks branches around Tokyo, and you can sit there as long as you like.
FREE WIFI ACCESS CARD
NTT East has a very special deal for tourist visitors to Japan. By showing your passport at the desk at Narita airport or at many outlets in Tokyo and eastern Japan, you can get a free Wifi card which gives you free web access at over 39,000 wifi hotspots in the region for 14 days.
See the flets.com website for more details.