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Internet access in Japan

Internet access in Japan

Contrary to what you may think, Internet access in Japan is a big problem for casual tourists.

For once, there are virtually no public wireless hotspots in Japan. I mean, there are plenty of them, but you can only use them if you have a mobile contract. And, if you’re just for a few weeks in Japan, the chances are you won’t have one.

Hotels – lots of them don’t have wifi, and where they have it, it may be problematic (i.e. no reception in your room). The common case is Ethernet in your room (at least it means it works stable).

Shinkansen, the bullet train? Some boast free wireless Internet – of course, only if you have a mobile contract.

What about buying a prepaid card which would offer you Internet access over Japan’s 3G network (*all* mobile network in Japan is 3G)? The only I found was b-mobile SIM. You can buy it in several flavours:

  • unlimited transfer, for 1 month or 6 months, limited to 320 kilobit/sec,
  • 1 GB limit, no speed limits.

I’ve bought mine at Yodobashi Camera for 14300 yen (about 135 euro), which boasts unlimited transfers for 6 months (they didn’t have the 1 month SIM, and I needed mobile Internet badly). I’m OK with slow speeds, as long as it’s stable, and 1 GB limit was really not that much for our stay in Japan.

Unfortunately, b-mobile SIM card turned out to be a real disaster. It offered speeds of around 30 kB/s, but only between ~23.oo – 8.oo. Very rarely during the day. What speeds could I get throughout the day? 0.5 kB/s – 1 kB/s. With long pauses it between. At least, this is how it worked with the Huawei E160. Friend’s iPhone couldn’t connect with it at all. 14300 yen flushed down the toilet.

In Japan, there are also curious ways to get online: you can rent a mobile phone, or some sort of a device which provides you internet (over wimax?).


To sum up: if you’re traveling in Japan, be prepared that your online access will be limited to the hotel you’re staying.


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