Despite being a high-tech country, its landscape dotted with robots and bullet trains, it's surprisingly hard to find free open Wi-Fi networks in Japan. That's partially because everyone is connected — but they're relying on service through their mobile phone contracts, which usually come with an option to tap into branded password-protected networks beaming from convenience stores and cafes. If you want to stay connected and avoid the frustration of trying to find an elusive open Wi-Fi network, do what local business travelers do: carry a mobile hotspot for on-the-go connectivity.
Why JAPAN WiFi mobile hotspots?
Free open Wi-Fi networks are rare in Japan, and even the ones that you can pay to subscribe to are few and far between when you're traveling. And of course, when you're really in a jam and need to pull up a map or calculate a train route, there's nary a network to be found. With mobile Wi-Fi (sometimes called pocket Wi-Fi or mobile hotspot), you carry it with you all the time, so there's no need to find a network/wait until you are in range. This means you'll be able to use internet like you would use a smartphone back home, with constant access. Like the name suggests, these devices can easily be slipped into the pocket or purse, and are smaller than most smartphones.
Mobile Wi-Fi devices can be rented from JAPAN WiFi for a daily flat rate of 780 yen per day plus tax. The company offers discounts for longer rental periods, with savings kicking in after 8, 15, and 30 days (ex: if you rent for over 30 days, the rental fee will be 663 per day + tax!). They also offer some extra options like insurance for 300 yen a day, and a mobile charger for 200 yen a day if you don't have your own (the device comes with a regular charger). Be careful not to cancel last minute or be late in returning, lest you incur a fee. If you opt not to take out insurance, be very sure not to lose the device, as the total replacement cost could be up to 45,000 yen. If you decide to use the device for a longer period, be sure to call the company to extend your contract before it expires.
Where can I rent one?
JAPAN WiFi mobile hotspot devices can be picked up and dropped off at five major airports in Japan: Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, Kansai (Osaka/Kyoto), Chubu Centrair (Nagoya), and Fukuoka. No worries if you're arriving and leaving from different airports - devices can be picked up and dropped off at different airports with no extra handling fee.
So how do I get one?
Devices should be ordered at least four days in advance of pickup. Payment should be made in advance by credit card (all major cards accepted). On the predetermined date, your device can be picked up at the predetermined airport. (Make sure the kiosk will be open when you arrive; all airport kiosks are open from at least 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., but some airports have longer open hours.) The device will come in a carrying case with instructions and a charging cable. After that, you can connect! You're good to go until you return the device to the preset location on the agreed-upon date. If you arrive after hours, the device can be placed in a dropbox.
Using the device
JAPAN WiFi mobile hotspots are pretty simple to use. You just turn it on, scan for the network (SSID) on your phone or laptop and then put in the provided password. Additionally, up to five computers, phones, or tablets can share one hotspot at the same time, so you can share with your travel companions. The devices keep a charge for several hours (or even a couple of days, depending on use), but should be recharged as necessary. An icon will indicate when battery is getting low. Happy travels!
Information and photos for this guide provided by XCom Global.