If you’re wondering how best to stay connected while you’re traveling around Japan, a pocket wifi router might be the solution. Often easier to set up than tourist SIM cards, especially useful if you are traveling in a group or have multiple devices (e.g. two phones, a tablet, laptop and so on), and super simple to collect and drop off, these mobile wifi routers are a clever choice. Here, we explain how you can rent a portable wifi router in Japan, as well as what the top options are in terms of value, data usage and length of stay.
Renting a pocket wifi router in Japan: How it works
It’s actually fairly simple to rent a pocket wifi router for your trip to Japan. All you need to do is fill out an online application (most providers have English web pages), and the portable router will be ready for collection at the airport when you arrive, or delivered to your accommodation shortly after (or even before) you get there. Both options are often free, but if not, you’re looking at a small levy of between ¥500 and ¥1,100. In most cases, booking two to three days in advance is sufficient.
Once you’ve got the pocket wifi router in your cheapo paws, you just switch it on, connect to it from your devices (you’ll have been given the password) and boom—you have the interwebs at your disposal. Just before you leave Japan, you either return the router in the prepaid envelope provided (just pop it into a postbox), or drop it off at the airport—different providers have different requests.
Pocket wifi in Japan: Meet the top contenders
There are more than 30 companies that provide wifi router rental in Japan, with variations in data allowances, connectivity speeds, coverage, customer service and rental periods. Most of Japan’s pocket wifi routers use 4G LTE and can be rented for the number of days you’ll need one for, e.g. 3, 7, 14 or 30+ days. You can often combine the router with another device, e.g. a power bank—which is handy if you’re doing a lot of sightseeing.
Our general advice is to get the fastest speed possible and opt for unlimited data (note, though, that many plans have daily data caps after which speeds are temporarily reduced). After all, you’re going to be uploading loads of pics and footage of your fabulous adventures in Japanland to make your friends jealous—and you don’t want to get throttled in these noble endeavors. We may be cheapskates, but we believe in decent internet.
To make the choice easier for you, we’ve compared the different providers (we made a spreadsheet and everything, but we’ll spare you the gory details) and present what we reckon are the top choices below. SoftBank and DoCoMo are two of the big names that come up in searches, and the ones that stand out as you roll through the airports. But they don’t always have the best deals directly.
1. Best-value pocket wifi router in Japan
To work out the router plans that have the best value, we looked at pricing, speed and data allowances, as well as English-language customer support.
Hovering near the top of the rankings is the Ninja Wifi router, a pocket device that provides download speeds of up to 187.5 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 37.5 Mbps—more than fast enough for doing most things. The router runs on the SoftBank network, using 4G and 4G LTE technology. Data is unlimited (but using over 3GB in one day could see speeds temporarily slow).
Summer 2019 promotion: If you order a Ninja Wifi router during the month of August or September (great for those coming to Japan for the rugby), they’ll throw in a power bank for free. Simply click on “Stand-alone Insurance options” and add a power bank.
The base rental rate, with tax, is ¥972 per day, but cheapo readers get a 30% discount, meaning that a five-day router rental will cost you just ¥3,402. (Note: The discount is applied automatically when you order through our special link.) You can pick up and drop off your device for free at the airport—both Narita, Haneda and other major Japanese airports are covered. Also, you can get medical insurance and translation devices as an add-on, which is neat.
For travelers who don’t need much data: There is also a 1GB/day plan, which is a bit cheaper. It costs ¥604 per day, working out to ¥1,814 for three days or ¥3,024 for five, without any add-ons. You’ll find the 1GB/day rental option next to the Unlimited Plan on the Ninja Wifi order form.
Fon Rental Wifi
Well-known global brand Fon also offer a decent package when it comes to portable wifi hotspots. Their key differentiator is the speeds they advertise: download speeds of up to 758 Mbps on their Speed Wi-Fi NEXT W05 device, with what we are told is unlimited data. We cannot confirm these speeds, but even if they’re a quarter of the maximum, you’re more than sorted. Price wise, you’re looking at ¥5,000 for five days, with a shipping fee of ¥1,500, which can be waived if you collect at a designated pick-up counter in Tokyo, Fukuoka or Sapporo. There is a slightly slower, slightly cheaper router available too. What’s cool about the Fon folks is that you get a power bank with your order, and you can rent a second router for half the price.
Another contender—thanks to its speeds—is CD Japan, where you can get a wifi router that runs on WiMAX (good coverage in cities, less so in the ‘burbs) and gives you download speeds of up to 220Mbps and upload speeds of up to 40Mbps. Data is unlimited, but should you use more than 10GB over three consecutive days, speeds will be reduced the following day. Rates start at ¥3,650 for five days, going up to ¥11,100 for 30. Thereafter, rates drop. Note that insurance, as with most other rental wifi routers in Japan, is extra, and there is a delivery fee of ¥540.
The Standard Wifi plan provided by the company Rentalwifi is also a good pick for stays of a couple of weeks or under. Relying on SoftBank (via Y!mobile) and supporting download speeds of up to 75Mbps and uploads of up to 25Mbps, the router serves up unlimited data. Fees start at ¥3,160 for four days (the minimum rental period) and go up to ¥12,430 for 30. Delivery is free.
2. Best mobile wifi router for heavy data usage
If you’re planning to burn through a ton of data, you might consider a router from Japan Wireless. Their Business Wifi plan gives you download speeds of up to 95Mbps and unlimited data on the SoftBank network. Rates start at ¥2,480 for two days and climb to ¥12,770 for a month-long rental. There is also a Premium Wifi option that has download speeds of up to 187 Mbps, but is a few hundred yen more. Delivery is ¥500 and you get an extra mobile battery for free.
Another good option for heavy data users is actually the previously mentioned Ninja Wifi. Although their website states that there is a “fair usage” policy for high data use, in practice this is not really enforced (sssshhh).
3. Best pocket wifi router for long-term stays
Japan Mobile and Wifi Router Rentals
If you’re going to be in Japan for more than a month, the High Speed Wifi router from Japan Mobile and Wifi Router Rentals is probably one of the most affordable options. Running on WiMAX 2 and various networks, these routers come with unlimited data and download speeds of up to 110Mbps. However, if you use 10GB+ in a month, you get throttled to 200kbps, so consider your data needs before committing. Rental for 30 days is about ¥9,700, with a delivery fee of just over ¥1,000.
Kyushu Wifi Rental
The SoftBank Pocket WiFi 501HW from Kyushu Wifi Rental (despite the name, they operate countrywide) is another viable option, giving you unlimited data on the SoftBank LTE network at download speeds of up to 187.5Mbps and uploads of up to 37.5Mbps. Basic fees are capped at ¥7,776 for a month. Round-trip postage costs just over ¥1,000. If you rent for 4-6 months, rates drop. The website, however, does require some Japanese-language skills.
4. Best mobile wifi router for very short trips to Japan
If you’re making a super short trip, the Ninja Wifi router is a great choice—you’re looking at ¥2,041 for three days, thanks to our specially negotiated cheapo discount.
Kyushu Wifi Rental
Getting one of the Kyushu Wifi Rental routers might be another economical option. Their SoftBank Pocket WiFi 501HW costs about ¥520 per day (but don’t forget to add in the postage fees of ¥1,080). There are also slower and capped packages, which could work out a bit cheaper.
Do I need wifi router insurance in Japan?
Insurance is optional when you rent a wifi router in Japan, but be sensible and go for at least a basic plan—it will set you back maybe ¥500–¥3,000 in total, but will save you potentially zillions in stress reduction. The last thing you want is a router return nightmare just before you board your flight!
Is free wifi available in Japan?
The short answer? Um, yes—sort of. While there are an increasing number of free wifi hotspots in Japan, there are still (we think, anyway) nowhere near as many as there should be, and sometimes connecting can be tricky. It’s not advisable to rely exclusively on free wifi while traveling around Tokyo and the rest of the country—unless you’re cool with an enforced digital detox. Read more about connecting to the internet in Japan.
While we do our best to ensure the information here is correct, it is subject to change. Post regularly updated. Last update: July 30, 2019.
Our guide to prepay SIM cards, wifi routers, cafe wifi and other places to quickly find wifi whilst visiting Japan.