Wifi is plentiful in Japan and there are several good options for cheap and fast data when you’re away from wifi. Here’s a full guide to wifi, pocket wifi and SIM cards in Japan.
Smartphones © internetsense
- Wifi is widely available in Japan. You’ll find it at hotels, ryokans, cafes, on shinkansen and in airports. In addition, Starbucks offers free wifi for customers (and they’re everywhere).
- Many people find that their home phone plan offers an international roaming plan that is reasonably priced and sufficient for their trip, but check with your carrier.
- You can buy data-only SIM cards in Japan (but you need an unlocked phone).
- You can buy data-only SIM cards online before your trip.
- A pocket wifi is a great solution, especially for families and groups. You can order them online and pick them up at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
- For full details on all of this, see below.
Wifi in Japan
Almost all hotels and ryokan have free wifi. While you’re out, you’ll find it in many restaurants, cafes (Starbucks has free wifi in every store), bars and some other public spaces like airports and museums. Wifi in Japan is almost always fast and reliable.
Data-Only SIM Cards in Japan
You can buy data-only SIM cards easily in Japan, at major airports like Narita and Kansai, and at electronics shops in any city. Just be aware that some of these cards have a brief registration process. The safest thing to do is buy them from places that will install the card for you (they can call or log on via another device if there’s a registration process). For details on which SIM to buy and where you can buy one in Tokyo, see our How To Buy A SIM Card In Tokyo page. For Kyoto, see our Where to Buy a SIM Card in Kyoto page. For Osaka, see our SIM Cards in Osaka page.
Starbucks coffee sign © marcopako
Starbucks are all over Japan, with multiple branches in most cities, as well as in airports and train stations. They all offer free wifi to their customers.
Pocket wifi and battery © ezakicoo
Pocket Wifi Rental
A great way to stay online wherever go in Japan is a pocket wifi. These are a great option for families or groups, since everyone can log onto the same unit. They’re usually fast and they offer more data than a SIM card. You can rent one from counters in the arrivals halls of major airports like Narita and Kansai. You can also easily rent a pocket wifi device with unlimited data online and it will be waiting for you at the airport.
International Roaming Rates in Japan
In case all of the above is just too confusing to deal with, you can always just bring your smartphone with you to Japan and pay international roaming rates to use it in Japan. If you’ve got the right carrier, you might be able to purchase an international add-on that allows some calls, texts and data usage for a surprisingly reasonable rate. For details on American, British and Australian carriers’ roaming rates in Japan, see our International Roaming Rates for Japan page on our sister site TrulyTokyo.com.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world