photo by Hamza Butt
Even though you normally enjoy unlimited data back in your country, you need to use a roaming service or purchase a prepaid SIM, so probably you would want to refrain from using too much data. Accommodations normally provide free internet access for guests, but you would want to save data while you go out so that you don’t end up running out of data. What you can use to save your mobile data while you are outside is free WiFi hotspots at places such as shopping centers, cafes, and retail shops in a city. There also are useful free apps to find WiFi hotspots and unify logging in.
First of all, turn on VPN app
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.
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Free Wi-Fi hotspot app: Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi
This app unifies free WiFi hotspots in communal facilities, commercial facilities, or companies across Japan. Just sign up by 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, but once you sign up with this app, you will be able to connect to the internet at numerous free WiFi hotspots all over Japan without logging in. It also searches for available free WiFi spots around your location. This multi-lingual app covers a total of 16 languages including Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
There are two types: manually operated Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi and automatically connected Japan Wifi auto-connect.
Free Wi-Fi hotspots: SoftBank Free Wi-Fi Passport
One of the Japanese telecommunications giants SoftBank offers free Wi-Fi network service for foreign tourists. Users can log in 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’s free Wi-Fi hotspots are located in 400,000 cafes, restaurants, service areas on expressways, hotel lounges, or other public facilities.
- Set your roaming network to “SoftBank”
- Call *8180 (English), *8181 (Chinese) or *8182 (Korean)
- Get the password from the audio guidance (Keep record)
- Go to a SoftBank Wifi hotspot
- Select “.FREE_Wi-Fi_PASSPORT”
- Enter your ID (country code + phone number) and password to login
Free Wi-Fi hotspots: City Wi-Fi networks
In holding the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, prefectural governments across Japan facilitated internet access in their areas. Now, all prefectures have free WiFi networks (mainly in urban areas) and you can connect to the internet at places like shopping malls and public facilities. Such a City WiFi network also covers free WiFi hotspots provided by commercial entities such as convenience stores and restaurant chains.
※Those “Citi Wifi” networks are covered by previously introduced Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi and Japan Wifi auto-connect.
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 (Tokyo): Toei Subway Free Wi-Fi
Unlimited access up to 180min/day. Multi-lingual service in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
Toei Bus (Tokyo): Toei_Bus_Free_Wi-Fi
Unlimited access up to 180min/day. Covered by Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi.
Osaka Metro (Osaka): Osaka_Metro_Wi-Fi
Free WiFi service which is available at Osaka Metro stations is now available on Midosuji Line and Chuo Line.
JR Shinkansen (Other)
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.
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
Among the three major convenience store chains, LAWSON provides free Wi-Fi service. Seven Eleven and Family Mart provide free internet access through “d Wi-Fi” which is supported by Docomo. To use “d Wi-Fi”, you need to sign up with “d point” system.
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.
U-Spot is available at Ito Yokado stores.
DONKI Free Wi-Fi is available at all stores.
Free WiFi “atPARCO Wi-Fi” is available, 60min/session up to 3 sessions a day.
You need to log in to use free Wi-Fi in convenience stores and shopping centers. Previously introduced app Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi and Japan Wifi auto-connect cover 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. This can be solved by using Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi. Once you sign up with the app, you can get connected to the internet without logging in again. Also, Japan Wifi auto-connect which connects to a WiFi hotspot automatically is now available. You no longer need to search for a hotspot around you. Along with the 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.