Stay connected in Japan
Pocket Wi-Fi: a small device that gives you internet everywhere, all the time.
Softbank Global Rental offers a rental service for iPhones SIM card, a good way to use your own iPhone on Japanese territory.
In Tokyo, Wired Cafes have wifi Free Spots, and can be found in many places.
Cabin manga kissa, open 24/7 internet access point.
Credit: Steve Nagata
New technologies make the modern traveler suffer from a strange disease. A lack of internet connectivity eats up the modern visitors to the archipelago ... Here are some solutions to overcome the evil.
Pocket wifi: internet everywhere, all the time
This discreet unit weighs less than 150 grams and gives you access to Wi-Fi networks that covers more than 90% of Japanese territory. No prior configuration is necessary to connect smartphones, tablets and laptops. Up to ten devices can connect to the same enclosure, making it ideal for those traveling with families, couples or friends. The unit automatically switches to standby when not in use, giving you battery life for more than six hours. SoftBank Global Rental rents these portable routers for 1,590 yen / day. Attention: you cannot get SIM card or routers at airport counters. However, it is possible to get them delivered.
Transporting the iPhone in Japan
SoftBank Global Rental Service offers a SIM card rental for iPhone 4 / 4S and 3G / 3GS. With this card, you can use your own iPhone on Japanese territory. The rental is 110 yen / day, plus the cost of communications. One package allows you to benefit from unlimited internet for 1,500 yen.
Use "selective Wi-fi" to surf on your computer in a coffee shop with confidence. Softbank has also set up a system of prepaid cards. On machines "Fami-port" beside ATMs in the supermarket Family Mart, you can apply for a "BB Mobile Point" card (instructions available in English). You must then pay the cashier, 500 yen / day, 1,000 yen for two weeks and 4,000 yen for 3 months. However, complications arrive when you have to activate your account through the internet with the key that you received on your ... unconnected mobile phone. We therefore recommend that you have local friends who can do the activation for you. This network is used in all places where "BB Mobile Point" appears on their window, like McDonalds, some large JR cafes and other stations. BB Mobile Spot List (in Japanese)
Complimentary Wi-Fi hotspots
If this all sounds a bit complicated, "Free Spots" are also available, allowing you to access the internet for free in some public places. Please note that Wi-Fi in public places is not widespread, and employees are sometimes not very aware of activation procedures. You can find a list of Free Spots on the next page (in English). Note that in Tokyo, the Wired Cafes have free wifi spots and can be found in many strategic locations. Computers are free to use.
If you do not have a computer and want to see your email or do some research on the internet, it is possible to use computers at manga kissa. This Japanese style cyber cafe is a place where you can read Manga and surf the internet. Rent a computer for an hourly rate (about 400 yen / hour). Attention: many manga-kissa ask clients to sign up before using their space, sometimes requiring a passport. The best known of these are the chains Manboo Cafe, Manga Kissa Gera Gera (with the frog), Internet Manga Kissa Com Com, etc. In addition to the internet and the multitude of manga that are free to read, you can also get drinks and buy food at low prices. Ideal for a short break in peace, or to spend the night if you had one too many to drink (these cafes are generally open 24/7).
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McDonald's will offer free WiFi at 1,500 stores between Jun 20 and end of Jul. 2016!