In my article “My seven tips for your first trip to Japan“, renting a 4G – LTE pocket wifi also known as portable wifi came in second place. It is one of the most practical things you can do before you embark on your journey. I usually order one the same time I order my JR Pass.
Some people opt to buy a sim card, but I always rent a pocket wifi because you can connect multiple devices to it. Your own mobile phone and laptop and your travel buddies’ devices.
What is a pocket wifi
A pocket wifi, MiFi or portable wifi router is like your internet hub at home, but portable. It contains a sim card and creates a private network that can connect up to 10 devices concurrently. They are super convenient and easy to work with. Connecting to them is just like connecting to your own or public wifi network. The connection can be very fast: 4G/LTE. The batteries of recent models of pocket wifi devices lasts about 10 hours.
Why rent one
Apart from being able to connect multiple devices at the same time, a pocket wifi is convenient because it can be difficult to find a free, open wifi network in Japan. You’ll find some, but logging on to them can be complicated – often you are required to hand over your email address. Some Shinkansen trains now offer wifi, but local trains don’t.
What does renting a pocket wifi in Japan cost
Take care choosing your vendor. Prices vary. Sometimes you are charged per day at around 70 euros for 2 weeks, but some companies charge double that amount. There are various different types of plans with different speeds, coverage and data limits. Compare before you choose.
How do I order one for Japan
Some travel agents can arrange your device for you, and you can order one while booking your JR Pass from some vendors. I have been using the services of Japan-Wireless for the last four years. They provide 4G – LTE, unlimited data and (a maximum of) 187Mbps speed. Fill in their form, you’ll receive email confirmation and instructions.
Japan-Wireless has various options for delivery. I’ve made use of two of them and they have never failed me. You can have your order delivered to your hotel. They’ll make sure it’s there the day before you arrive.
Tip: It’s a good idea to let your hotel know in advance that a package will be arriving in your name.
Or you can have it delivered to the post office at the airport you’re arriving at. At Narita, the post office is easy to find: from the arrivals hall take the elevator to the 4th floor. Staff at the post office will hand you your package without fault. The envelope looks like this:
What do you get when you rent a pocket wifi
In the envelop you’ll find:
- a case containing:
- your pocket wifi device
- a power bank
- USB cable and AC adapter (plug-in)
- a stamped and addressed envelop
The device is about as big as a packet of cigarettes and will easily fit on your pocket. It will arrive pre-charged. Using the pocket wifi is a matter of switching it on and connecting to it with your device (mobile phone, tablet, laptop). In your device’s wifi settings choose your pocket wifi’s network. It’s name is listed on a sticker on the device (“SSID”).
Problems with your device
I’ve never had any problems. These newer 4G – LTE versions are super fast, sometimes faster than the connection I have at home. You can easily download large files. The great thing about 4G in Japan is the connectivity: even on the fast bullet trains, the connection is almost continuous. It may drop while you’re going through tunnels, but unlike in Europe where providers tell tall tales about trains going too fast for them to be able to guarantee network coverage, in Japan telecom companies don’t seem to have that problem.
If you use the device for extended periods, sometimes your pocket wifi will fail, and you’ll have to reset it. The instructions on how to do that are in the package you received, at least that’s what japan-wireless does.
Because I make a lot of use of the internet when I travel, after a while I’ll get a message on the screen (in Japanese) that I’ve used too much data, but that’s never had any consequences. The connection does not get any slower and I’ve never been charged any extra fees.
Order your pocket wifi
After clicking this link you will land on the Japan-Wireless.com website. This is not a sponsored link. For now.