If you’re a resident of Japan who is interested in getting a long-term pocket wifi rental, you’ll want to look through this comparison of providers offering cheapo-friendly deals.
Just visiting Japan? Compare short-term pocket wifi rentals instead.
Renting a mobile or pocket wifi device is one of the first things smart travelers do when they plan a trip to Japan. But many long-term residents are also interested in getting a pocket wifi device—either to replace costly or clunky fixed-line home internet, or simply to have wifi on the go, e.g. when working remotely.
Long-term pocket wifi in Japan: The basics
If you have a Japanese cellphone contract, you might be able to add a pocket wifi router onto your current plan, so checking with your current provider is a good first step. You may even get discounts for combining the two.
Alternatively, there are a number of companies that offer long-term mobile wifi rentals, with contracts between one month and three years. Usually, you will pay a fixed monthly fee, plus a once-off fee for the device (which may be waived during campaign periods—so look out for those) and potential extra fees like premium customer service, insurance and so on.
What to look for in pocket wifi contracts
Pocket wifis in Japan run on either LTE (Long-Term Evolution) or WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), depending on the provider you choose. They run on different frequencies, but are very similar in what they provide for the end-user. Technically, LTE is slightly faster than WiMax, but it is also more affected by the number of users, so they balance out about evenly. All of this means you probably don’t need to fuss too much about which network your portable wifi uses.
The important variables to consider when picking a provider, besides the monthly costs, are: download speeds, area coverage, contract length, data—and perhaps the battery life of the mobile wifi device (though you can always use a power bank to keep it going).
What are pocket wifi “cradles”?
Some providers offer the option to get a “cradle” with your portable wifi. This triple functions as a wireless charging station (just pop the pocket wifi device on top), a wired router to connect a computer via cable to the pocket wifi’s network, and a wireless LAN router. Pretty handy!
Long-term pocket wifi contracts in Japan: The best deals
Here is a comparison of some long-term pocket wifi providers in Japan that we think offer good deals for price-savvy foreign residents. At the end, you’ll find a simple summary table.
If you’re not sure you want to commit to the 12-36 month contract that a lot of internet providers automatically lock you in for, Wi-FiRental.com is probably your best bet.
At 187.5 Mbps, your download speeds may not be the fastest, and your data is capped at 7GB/day, but unless you’re a designer, gamer or stream shows for hours on end, this should actually be more than adequate for your daily usage needs (and more than what many other providers give you).
Besides not having to buy your device upfront, the biggest pros are full English-language support, and a contract that is simple and short, running on a month-to-month basis. This provider is perfect for initial internet setup in Japan, especially if you don’t know how long you’ll be in town. It also works well if you’re getting ready to leave Japan and need in-between internet. All in all, it makes for good home wifi and wifi on the move.
Cheapo bonus: We negotiated a special discount for Tokyo Cheapo readers—you’ll get ¥500 off the ¥5,000 monthly fee if you sign up using our link.
Note that there is an extra fee of ¥1,100 in the first month, for device delivery.
TokuTokuBB by GMO
First off, if a promo campaign isn’t running when you sign up, you can expect to fork out ¥27,500—¥30,000 for your portable wifi device through this provider. So check for those campaigns!
The speeds on TokuTokuBB range between 440 and 758 Mbps, but keep in mind that these are the top speeds under perfect conditions, so will rarely be the case in reality.
There are two monthly plans available to choose from: The “unlimited” data plan is ¥4,263, and the 7GB plan will cost you ¥3,609. Note that the unlimited plan, despite its name, throttles the speed if you download more than 10GB worth of data within three days.
Your pocket wifi plan comes with a ¥362/month public wifi option that lets you log into wifi networks around Tokyo—rather annoyingly, this cannot be deselected. So the total will be somewhere between ¥4,000 and ¥5,000 a month, depending on the other options you choose. For example, you can add on an insurance plan for water and other damage for your device, ranging between ¥300 and ¥500 per month.
The contract length is three years, which is quite a commitment. If you want to get out early, it will cost you ¥20,000. But all you need to sign up is a Japanese address, phone number and a credit card, which can be international.
Yahoo Japan’s pocket wifi plans come a bit cheaper, with a range of data caps. They run from as low as 1GB for ¥2,138/month to 5GB for ¥2,678/month and 7G for ¥3,991/month. The maximum download speed is 988 Mbps.
The nice thing about Y! mobile is that you can deselect all the extra options like device insurance if you do not want them. And, as is the case with many other providers, there are often campaigns that get you the pocket wifi device for free.
If you set up additional contracts with Y! mobile, for e.g. a smartphone or another device, you could receive an approximately ¥540 discount each month for each contract, from the second contract onwards.
Like TokuTokuBB, pocket wifi contracts are fixed for three years. If you want to cancel the contract early, there will be a ¥10,260 fee. To sign up, you need a credit card and either a certificate of residence (juminhyo) from your local city office, or a copy of your residence card (zairyu card) and passport.
UQ’s pocket wifi is another option for Japan residents looking for an “unlimited” data plan (that however, again, is capped if you download more than 10GB in three days).
The “Gigahodai” (literally “all-you-can giga”) plan usually costs ¥4,880/month, but with campaigns the price can come down. The download speed is 440 Mbps, which is a good standard.
In addition, UQ charges for the two wifi devices you can choose from, which are ¥800/month. You can add on extras like security software and insurance for a few hundred yen more per month.
The contract length is stipulated at two or three years. There is a ¥3,000 registration fee for the two-year option. If you want out early, it will cost you ¥19,000 up to the 13th month of your contract, ¥14,000 between the 14th and 25th month, and ¥9,500 after the 25th month.
If you combine your UQ mobile wifi with an AU mobile contract, you could save ¥1,000 a month.
Kashimo by KDDI
Kashimo offers some of the cheapest long-term mobile wifi plans. You can choose between “unlimited data” (once again, if you exceed 10GB in three days, you can expect speeds to be throttled) and a 7GB plan. All extra options like a wifi cradle and insurance plans can be deselected, so that the very cheapest contract is ¥3,380/month. With promo campaigns, this cost may be lowered.
The pocket wifi device offers a 440 Mbps WiMax connection (but remember, this is the top performance under perfect conditions). During campaigns, the device may be free.
Two- and three-year plans are available. There is a ¥3,000 sign-up fee. If you want out early, it will cost you ¥19,000 up to the 13th month of your contract, ¥14,000 between the 14th and 25th month, and ¥9,500 after the 25th month.
All you need to sign up is a Japanese address, phone number and valid (international or Japanese) credit card.
Summary of long-term pocket wifi for Japan residents
|Provider||Monthly cost||Data volume||Max. speed||Network used||Min. contract||Link|
|Wi-FiRental.com||¥5,000||7GB/day||187.5Mbps||LTE or WiMax||1 month||Pricing info|
|TokuToku BB||Roughly ¥4,000–¥5,000, depending on options chosen||Unlimited or 7GB||440-758 Mbps||LTE or WiMax||3 years (cancellation fee ¥20,000)||Pricing info|
|Y! Mobile||From ¥2,138||1GB-7GB||988 Mbps||LTE||3 years (cancellation fee ¥10,260)||Pricing info|
|UQ WiMax||From ¥4,880, plus ¥800 device fee||Unlimited||440 Mbps||WiMax||2-3 years (cancellation fee ¥9,500–¥19,000)||Pricing info|
|Kashimo by KDDI||From ¥3,380||Unlimited or 7GB||440 Mbps||WiMax||2-3 years (cancellation fee ¥9,500–¥19,000)||Pricing info|
Pro tip: Also look at data SIM cards for long-term use.
While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. This article is intended only as a rough guide for Japan residents looking for pocket wifi. Always check prices and T&Cs carefully before signing any contracts.