How to get the connection in Japan. Which one is the best choice, public wifi, mobile router or SIM card

Most of you use your smartphone, tablet and/or laptop. But how do you get the internet access?

There are a few ways to get a connections. I will explain about it with my experience. I believe this post will help you to find the best solution.

Public wifi

As the number of the overseas tourist has been increased, the public wifi has been developing. There are lots of wifi access in the train, at the station and the tourist spots. Please see the link below to find the information about the public wifi which is provided by the train companies:

If you do not use lots of data and do not use it very often, you are okay with wifi access. And most of accommodation provide the free wifi access to the guest. Even if you use AirBNB, VRBO or other rental vacation home site, you can get an internet access at most property.

However the public wifi is available at the specific places. You may not get a connection when you need. And the connection may not be stable. In my experience, the slow wifi connection bothered me lots and it was so frustrated. It was disconnected very often and I had to log in again and again.

And also if you use the public wifi connection, most public wifi require you to register. You may not be comfortable to give your personal information.

If you think so, please think about using mobile route or SIM card.

Mobile router

WiMAX mobile router which I used

The mobile router is one of the choices if you want to get an internet connection all time. The pros of the mobile router is the following:

  • High-speed internet connection
  • Unlimited access
  • Economical for a big group traveler
  • No installation required

The mobile router provides you very high-speed connection and it is very stable.

If you are SNS lover, you will upload lots of photos and movies on your facebook, instagram or other SNS. This is a good option for you.

If you travel with child(ren), they may be bored or tired in the train. You have to allow them to see YouTube, Netflix. You need unlimited access. The mobile router is your solution.

Most of mobile router can accommodate about 10 devices at same time. You and your travel members can share only one mobile router. You can save your cost.

The mobile router does not require you to install any app and need to change your setting in your device. Just find the hostname in wifi setting and input the password. The hostname and password are provided when you pick up the mobile router.

On the other hand, the cons of the mobile router is the following:

  • No connections in the deep underground, the tunnel, the mountain area
  • Extra device, AC adapter and USB cable
  • All travel member must stick together all time

I used this device on board, I could not receive a signal when the train was going in the tunnel. Especially most Shinkansen lines run in the tunnel very often because it takes the shortest route.

If you use the mobile route, you must carry the mobile route itself. And you must carry USB cable and AC adapter beside your device. I have used the mobile route before but I changed to use SIM card. Because I do not want to carry extra stuff.

At last if you and your travel member share one mobile router, all of you must stick together to get a connection. When I went to Disneyland with my wife and my daughter, I had one mobile router and shared it with my wife. But I had to get a ticket and my wife took my daughter to the attraction. And I lost them. I had the mobile router but my wife did not. She could not contact me and I spend more than 30 minutes to fine them.

If you and your travel friend share one mobile router, you may face same issue while you are in the attraction, in the department store. As I mentioned, the public wifi is not available everywhere. Please keep this in your mind.

If you use the mobile router, you can reserve it online and pick it up at most airports when you arrive. I have used the store in the link below. It was very reliable and the price was very affordable.

Wi-Fi Rental Store

Prepaid Data SIM card

Don’t forget to bring the pin.

The other choice is the prepaid data SIM card if you want to get an internet connection all time. If you use this, your smartphone must be unlocked. The pros of SIM card is the following

  • Handy. No extra cable, extra device, extra AC adapter
  • Bigger coverage area

Once you insert the SIM card and complete setting, you can get an internet connection directly on your smartphone. You do not carry any extra stuff. You can setup hotspot in your smartphone. You can use it as the mobile router.

Most of the prepaid data SIM card use the major mobile carrier in Japan. The coverage is bigger than the mobile router. And it is more stable than the mobile router as well.

The cons of Prepaid Data SIM card is the following:

  • Limited data usage
  • Setup required
  • Maybe pricey for a big travel group

First, the prepaid data SIM card does not provide unlimited internet access basically. Most of SIM are sold at the fixed data usage and the fixed days.

e.g. 3GB for 7 days

There are various SIM cards available in Japan now. I use U-mobile prepaid SIM. Because this SIM card provides 220 MB a day. Even if I use more than 220 MB a day, I still can get a connection at 200 kbps. It is slow but it is unlimited connection. Please find more information at the official site in the link below:

U-Mobile Prepaid Data SIM

This SIM card is sold at the vending machine in major airports, the official stores in major cities, and some stores in the airports. Please see the link above to find the sales location.

The price is actually varied by the sales location. The price is a big higher at the vending machine. 7 days SIM is sold at 1,800 yen at the store. But same one is sold at 2,500 yen at the vending machine.

There are many many stores in the airport now. Please shop around and find the best one for you.

Second, when you insert the SIM card, you have to do APN setting in your smartphone or other devices. If you are not familiar with the setting, it may be hard for you. Some stores may help you to set up your phone. But usually you have to do it by yourself. Some SIM card require wifi connection to set up. You have to do it at the airport or hotel.

At last, if you travel with many family members or friends, you may need SIM card for each member’s phone. You can use only one SIM card and you can set up your phone as hotspot. Others can get a connection through your phone. But SIM card does not provide unlimited access. And if many phones access to your phone at same time, the speed of connection may be slow. Please compare SIM card and the mobile router.

9 thoughts on “How to get the connection in Japan. Which one is the best choice, public wifi, mobile router or SIM card”

  1. Takeshi san,

    Could you tell me if I can rent a pocket wifi at Fukouka airport?
    I also need to know if I can use a JR All Kyushu pass to go from Nobeoka to Miyazaki shi by JR train?

    Thank you for your help.

  2. Hi Takeshi ,

    Just to update this space for those who’re traveling to Japan , I have tried out BMobile 1GB Data sim card and also WiFi devices , I would suggest WiFi devices for data access in Japan.

    I have rented a WiFi device from Global Advanced Communications (http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/). It’s easy to book and pickup from airport upon reaching. Since I landed in Narita Airport , Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 post office starts operating at 0830. If you are too early , then you might want to consider the device to be sent to your hotel or anywhere you want.

    Coverages is good except some mountains area which i believe no telcos can covers as well. The devices i rented lasted at least 6 hours if i keep using it. You might want to consider bring more power bank / charging devices with Micro-USB tip for charging purposes if you travel long distance.

    About BMobile 1GB Prepaid Sim , I tried on Samsung Note 2 (N7100) and iPhone 4. For Samsung Note 2 , it seems to have a little bit problems as it detects data connection (3G and H) but after running some times, data won’t loads anymore. Of course , N7100 is not listed as the supported device.

    For iPhone 4 , it’s on 3G without any issue , but because phone display only 3G with no service (because BMobile can only have access to data) , so sometimes speed can be slow or not working. I have run speedtest and found out the ping went up to 100+ – 300+ which resulted the speed to be slow i assume.

    B-Mobile requirement:-
    -Your device must support one of the following frequency. LTE Band 1 (2100MHz), Band 19 (800MHz), Band 21 (1500MHz), W-CDMA/HSDPA/HSUPA Band 1 (2100MHz), Band 19 (800MHz)
    -Your device must be SIM Lock Free.

    There is also rules like :-
    To maintain service quality for all users, JCI reserves the right to restrict the data transmission speed for customers who have used more than 3,000,000 packets (approximately 360MB) over three consecutive days including the current day.

    So , i highly recommend WiFi devices renting for data access in Japan. Major cities like Tokyo and Hakone shouldn’t be any problem. Hope it helps you all 🙂

    1. Hi Chua,

      Thanks for sharing your info.
      Actually I;m in Japan now and using E-mobile wifi mobile route. I used same company as you, Global Advanced Communications at last time. But I changed it at this time. Because it’s 1000 yen cheaper for 4 days rental. But this company does not have any English info. So I don’t put any link here. I hope they will do it in English.

      I’m in Kinugawa onsen now. It was record breaking snow in last 24 ours in Tokyo!

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      1. Takeshi ,

        I rented 7 days for 5,550y from Global Advanced Communications. Hope to see the service you are using to have english page soon. 🙂 it will be great to see more providers as price can be compare from provider to provider.

        Hope you’re enjoying onsen while waiting for snows to slow down in Tokyo. I have read on news that many flights has been delay due to heavy snow in Tokyo. We consider ourself lucky as the day when we left , only Tokyo starts raining and snowing.

        I will definitely go back Japan agian ~

  3. My wife and I are planning to use take the Tohoku Shinkansen, the LEX Super Hakucho, and the LEX Super Hokuto to Sapporo. Is WiFi is available on any of these trains? Will the train’s WiFi connection be available in tunnels and underground, including the underwater tunnel to Hokkaido? And will it be easy for us to connect to the train’s WiFi system, not being able to read any Japanese?

    1. Hi Jim,
      Those trains do not have any WIFI connection. WIFI is available in some trains. But mostly it require the contract with major Japanese carrier. That’s why I used rental WiMAX.
      AS far as I know, only Narita Express provide WIFI service for the foreign tourists.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

Before you leave your comment, please see the conditions below.
  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve. When you submit your comment, the page will be reloaded but nothing happens. Your comment will be shown when I approve. Please click submit only once and wait for my approval.
  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • I cannot recommend any hotels other than which I have stayed. Basically I cannot talk about hotels in this site. The number of hotels are too many to talk about by my experience.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals.
  • Please do not ask me to reply to your inquiry by email. In this website, I would like to share all information with any readers. I do not communicate with you directly.

Leave a Reply to JPRail Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*