【2021 Version】Stay Connected! A Guide to Japan’s Free Wi-Fi Spots

スマホ

photo by Hamza Butt

A smartphone is the top must-have item when you travel abroad. You no longer need a map or phonebook if your smartphone is connected to the internet. Well, smartphone seems to be a mighty tool, but only if connected to the internet. Now, there are good Wi-Fi networks across Japan, for example, in airports, railway stations as well as shopping malls and cafes. In addition, there is a smartphone app that detects Wi-Fi spots and integrates log-in transactions. Before you visit Japan, check where you can find free Wi-Fi spots.

 

First of all, turn on VPN app

bear

When you connect to public Wi-Fi, the first thing you should care for is a security issue. You need to protect your personal information from someone who wants to intercept your data. You can be a target of a vicious fraud so easily if you are using free Wi-Fi hotspot without any protections. To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, make sure to turn on VPN app before connecting to public Wi-Fi. You may also want to protect your privacy by not revealing any of your personal information while connected to public hotspot, or turning off Wi-Fi connection on your device after using public Wi-Fi.

Sekai VPN
Free trial up to 2 months for full service. To use their service for free of charge, you need to cancel the trial before the expiry date. 

Tunnel Bear
Free up to 500MB/month. Get extra 1GB by tweeting on Twitter. 

Express VPN
Free 30 days trial. Enter a normal contract and cancel it within 30 days to receive a full refund. You can enjoy a full service with no data transmission limit during the trial period.

 

Free Wi-Fi hotspot app: Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi

 

Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi

This app is designed to unify free Wi-Fi hotspots in communal facilities, commercial facilities or companies all over Japan. Just register your email address or SNS account to get started. Normally, you need to newly log in every time you connect to different public Wi-Fi. With this app, you can use more than 190,000 hotspots by logging in just once, and search nearby Wi-Fi spots. 

Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi

 

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: SoftBank Free Wi-Fi Passport

SoftBank Free Wifi

One of the Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank offers free Wi-Fi network service for foreign tourists. Users can login to SoftBank free Wi-Fi hotspots across Japan with a password they can get by calling specific telephone numbers. The password is valid for 2 weeks. SoftBank free Wi-Fi hotspots are located in 400,000 cafes, restaurants, service areas on expressways, hotel lounges or other public facilities.

  1. Set your roaming network to “SoftBank”
  2. Call *8180 (English), *8181 (Chinese) or *8182 (Korean)
  3. Get the password from the audio guidance (Keep record)
  4. Go to a SoftBank Wifi hotspot
  5. Select “.FREE_Wi-Fi_PASSPORT”
  6. Enter your ID (country code + phone number) and password to login

User’s guide
Check list

 

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: City Wi-Fi networks

Tokyo

To meet the complaint of international tourists about poor internet connection in Japanese cities, local governments have been putting efforts in the improvement of “city Wi-Fi”. Almost all major cities have developed decent free Wi-Fi networks by now. Free hotspots are available at sightseeing places, railway stations, airports as well as parks, communal facilities and ordinary streets of those cities. The way to login slightly varies depending on each government’s network, but the majority requires to register your email address or SNS account before selecting SSID to connect.

Tokyo

18 out of 23 wards of Tokyo offer their own free Wifi networks which have been rapidly improved toward the Olympic games in 2020. Also, there is another WiFi network run by Tokyo prefecture government.

FREE WiFi&TOKYO(東京都)

Other major cities

Other than Tokyo, many other major cities and tourist destinations offer “City Wi-Fi”.

Sapporo City Wi-Fi (Sapporo city)
Osaka Free Wi-Fi (Osaka)
Kyoto Wi-Fi (Kyoto city)
NAGOYA Free Wi-Fi (Nagoya city)
Fukuoka City Free Wi-Fi (Fukuoka city)

※Most of those “citi Wifi” networks are covered by previously introduced “Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi”.

 

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: Public transport

Lately, free internet access is commonly available at public facilities such as airports and railway stations. In the central Tokyo, buses and subways also have an onboard service of free Wi-Fi. In addition, JR Group provides free Wi-Fi service on shinkansen (only cars with a Wi-Fi mark).

Toei Subway: Toei Subway Free Wi-Fi

Unlimited access up to 180min/day. Multi-lingual service in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

Toei Bus: Toei_Bus_Free_Wi-Fi

Unlimited access up to 180min/day. Covered by Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi.

JR Shinkansen

Available as Shinkansen Free Wi-Fi (Tokaido/Sanyo/Kyushu), JR-EAST FREE Wi-Fi (Hokuriku Shinkansen E7), JR-WEST FREE Wi-Fi (Hokuriku Shinkansen W7). Cars with free Wi-Fi has a Wi-Fi mark. Covered by Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi.

 

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: Café and restaurant chains

Large café and restaurant franchises offer free Wifi service in their shops across Japan for the customers.

Starbucks: at_STARBUCKS_Wi2

Up to 1 hour connection once you login
How to use

TULLY’S COFFEE: Tully’s Wifi

Unlimited connection with no password
How to use

McDonald’s Free Wi-Fi

Up to 1 hour connection once you login
How to use

PRONTO FREE Wi-Fi

3 o 30 minutes connection allowed a day.
How to use

*In addition to the above groups, other café and restaurant franchise groups such as Doutor, Komeda Cofee, Renoir and Denney’s offer free Wifi to their customers.

 

Free Wi-Fi hotspots: Convenience stores and shopping centers

Convenience stores

As you know, Japanese convenience stores are incredibly convenient and they have free Wi-Fi, of course. Some convenience stores even have a dining area within the shop so that customers jump on the internet to search whatever they want to know. The followings are the major three convenience store chains, but there are more franchises that offer free Wi-Fi service.

Seven Spot (Seven Eleven)
LAWSON Free Wifi (LAWSON)
Family Mart

Shopping centers

Same as convenience store chains, major shopping centers also provide free Wi-Fi. Some centers have free Wi-Fi connection in the entire building and others only provide it in the limited areas.

Ito Yokado
Seven Spot is available in Ito Yokado stores as this chain belongs to the same group as Seven Eleven.

Don Quijote
DONKI Free Wi-Fi is available in all shops.

PARCO
Most of shops provide free WiFi “atPARCO Wi-Fi”.

You need to log in to use free Wi-Fi in convenience stores and shopping centers. Previously introduced app Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi covers these retailers’ free Wi-Fi.

 

Getting free Wi-Fi is easier than getting free water

Public Wi-Fi hotspots becoming more and more available in Japan. Now, we hardly have a problem to find public Wi-Fi as most of airports, railway stations, major railway stations, major retailers and restaurant chains have started providing free Wi-Fi. In Tokyo, you can use the internet even on a bus. A minor problem is, you need to log in every time you change a hotspot. In order to avoid such a troublesome log-in transactions, download Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi which unify different hotspots across Japan. With this app, you no longer need to log in every time you connect to a hotspot. Along with recent popularity of MVNO which offers lower phone rates, the number of people who want to save data usage on their mobile phones. For such people, public Wi-Fi is a great advantage, and you can save your data usage during your stay in Japan.

 


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あきらことほ

Writer

あきらことほ Kotoho Akira

Living outside Japan for a good many years, I often rediscover nice little things about this country every time I return here. I would be more than happy if this column may help you find your "nice little things about Japan"!

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