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. Read on for the best and most affordable mobile wifi — both unlimited and capped.
Just visiting Japan? Compare short-term pocket wifi rentals instead.
Renting a mobile or pocket wifi device is one of the first things savvy 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 the recommended first step. You might even get discounts for combining the two. Examples include Mobal, Y! Mobile, au, SoftBank and GMO.
Alternatively, there are a number of companies that offer long-term mobile wifi rentals, with rolling contracts between one month and three years. Usually, you will pay a fixed monthly fee, plus a once-off fee for the router device (which may be waived during campaign periods — so look out for those) and potential extra fees like premium customer service, insurance, wifi cradles and so on.
What to look for in pocket wifi contracts
Pocket wifi in Japan runs on 5G, 4G/LTE or WiMax, depending on the provider you choose. They operate on different frequencies, but are 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 — just make sure you have strong coverage if you live outside a major urban area.
Important variables to consider:
- Total monthly costs
- Data allowance
- Download speeds
- Area coverage
- Contract length
You might also consider 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 quick comparison of nine long-term pocket wifi providers in Japan that we think offer good deals for price-savvy residents. At the end of our reviews, you’ll find a simple summary table.
Note: We’ve included a mix of wifi rental providers here. Some of them are focused on serving foreign residents, offering English support and simple contracts. Others target the domestic market, offering lower prices, but way more red tape!
If you’re not sure you want to commit to the lengthy contract that a lot of mobile internet providers try to lock you in for, a month-to-month agreement with Wi-FiRental.com is probably your best bet. This also applies if your Japanese isn’t the strongest, since you can do everything in English.
Their most popular package is the SoftBank Unlimited T06, which is priced at ¥6,600/month. At around 187.5 Mbps your download speeds may not be the fastest, and your data is capped at 5GB/day (150GB/month), but as long as you don’t stream shows for hours on end, this should be adequate for your daily usage needs.
Special discount: Use the coupon code cheapo for free delivery both ways.
Besides not having to buy your router upfront, the biggest pros of Wi-FiRental.com 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 wifi on the move.
A popular name in the Japan SIM game, Mobal also has a long-term wifi offering, running on all three major networks (that’s SoftBank, Docomo and au). Priced at ¥4,980/month, with instant set-up and multiple payment options, this is another easy option for people moving to Japan.
The data allowance is 100GB per month, with maximum download speeds of 150Mbps. The minimum contract period is 3 months. It is also possible to cancel early; doing so will cost you a termination fee of ¥4,980.
If you opt to take out a contract with Mobal Wifi, you’ll need to pay for the device up front (¥6,980), but it’s yours to keep once the 3-month contract is done. You can then theoretically use it with another provider.
Notes on billing: For the first month of service, your monthly plan fees will be pro-rated — e.g. if you receive your device on the 15th of October, you’ll be billed ¥2,490 (half your regular bill) for the period from the 15th to the 31st. On the 1st of November, you’ll then be billed ¥4,980 (your regular monthly bill) for the full month of November. Going forward, you’ll be billed ¥4,980 on the 1st of every calendar month, until you cancel your service. Your device will be activated within two business days from shipping, and Mobal will send you an email as soon as it’s active and ready to use.
Mobal’s biggest selling points are probably their excellent English customer service, and the fact that the majority of their profits go to charity. And if you are a Mobal voice customer, you’ll get a 10% discount each month.
Sakura Mobile Wifi
It may not be the cheapest option, but Sakura Mobile’s wifi is worth a look, even just for the sake of comparison. They have two wifi offerings, both running on the SoftBank 4G/LTE network, with data caps of 10GB or 30GB/month.
The 10GB plan is ¥3,828/month, while the 30GB plan is ¥5,478/month. If you exceed your data limit, it can be reset for a “small fee”. Coverage is described as “good”.
The minimum contract period is three months, and there is a ¥5,500 activation fee for both plans. Multiple payment options are available. Find out more.
Rakuten Mobile Wifi
Japanese mega-brand Rakuten have their own mobile network, and offer an unlimited data deal. What you pay is determined by the amount of data you use each month:
- Up to 3GB = ¥1,078
- 3GB – 20GB = ¥2,178
- More than 20GB = ¥3,278
There is no activation fee or minimum contract period, and the router is ¥1 on promotion, or otherwise ¥7,980. It sounds almost too good to be true, but a drawback is that your speeds may differ significantly depending on your area. Fair usage also applies to the “unlimited” thing.
You will almost certainly need to complete your application in Japanese. Have your proof of address and Japan-issued identification ready. Existing Rakuten Mobile customers don’t get any special discounts, but you can put your Rakuten points towards the fees.
Y! Mobile wifi
Yahoo Japan’s pocket wifi plans come in two forms: 7GB of data for ¥4,065/month, or unlimited for ¥4,818/month. If you use more than 10GB over three days, speeds might be reduced.
You will have to cough up a sign-up fee of ¥3,300, although if you use their online store, this is waived. You will also need to purchase a device: this is between ¥4,365 and ¥28,800 from Y! Mobile, but you can use your own router, as long as it is compatible.
To sign up, you’ll 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 WiMax Mobile Wifi
UQ’s pocket wifi is another option for Japan residents looking for an “unlimited” data plan (however, you might be throttled if you use more than 15GB in three days). The maximum download speed is listed as 2.7Gbps, but this is realistic only in ideal conditions.
The “Gigahodai” (literally “all-you-can giga”) plan costs ¥4,950/month on a rolling monthly contract (with no minimum contract period), or a discounted ¥4,268/month if you commit to a 13-month contract.
You’ll also have to pay a ¥3,300 sign-up fee, and will need to pay around ¥10,000 for the router itself if you buy it from UQ WiMax — otherwise you can use your own, provided it is compatible.
To sign up, you will need a Japanese address, phone number and valid (international or Japanese) credit card.
Kashimo Mobile Wifi by KDDI
Kashimo offers an unlimited data plan (though if you exceed 15GB in three days, you can expect speeds to be throttled), with no fixed contract. The price is ¥4,378/month. There is also the standard ¥3,300 sign-up fee to kick things off. Their recommended router costs ¥21,780, which can be paid off in monthly installments.
To sign up, you will need a Japanese address, phone number and valid (international or Japanese) credit card.
eConnect Mobile Wifi Monthly Plan
If you’re a more conservative data user, the eConnect Mobile Wifi Monthly Plan is another “foreigner-friendly” option, giving you a 50GB/month data allowance. The minimum contract length is four months.
There’s no sign-up fee or device fee, and the plan is charged at ¥240 a day. This works out to approximately ¥6,000/month. There is also a shipping fee of ¥720, which is tacked onto the total price. Full English support is available. As with many of the other providers, the eConnect pocket wifi device has maximum download speeds of 187.5Mbps.
CD Japan Long-term Monthly Plans
CD Japan has two long-term wifi rental options. You can choose between their SoftBank 100GB/month plan, or their unlimited Wimax plan with 5G enabled.
On the SoftBank wifi plan, you can start with a one-month contract for ¥7,000, or if you know you’ll be staying at least three months, ¥6,600/month (committing to a three-month minimum contract). The router for this plan has maximum 187.5Mbps download speeds.
The Wimax plan takes the form of a rolling contract. Prices start at ¥7,900/month, going down to ¥6,900/month for six-month contracts, and ¥6,400 for 12 months or more. The maximum speed is 2.7Gbps, but again — this is only under perfect, 5G conditions.
There is a sign-up fee of ¥3,300, which may be waived during promotional periods. You’ll also need to pay ¥690 in shipping. Everything can be sorted out in English.
Summary of long-term pocket wifi for Japan residents
|Provider||Monthly cost||Data volume||Max. speed||Network used||Min. contract||Link|
|Wi-FiRental.com||¥6,600||150GB/month||187.5Mbps||4G LTE||1 month||Pricing info|
|Mobal Wifi||¥4,980||100GB/month||150Mbps||4G LTE||3 months||Pricing info|
|Sakura Mobile Wifi||¥3,828–¥5,478||10GB or 30GB/month||Approx. 40Mbps||4G LTE||3 months||Pricing info|
|Rakuten Mobile Wifi||¥1,078–¥3,278, depending on data usage||Unlimited||“High”||4G LTE/5G||1 month||Pricing info|
|Y! Mobile||¥4,065–¥4,818||7GB or unlimited||2.4Gbps||4G LTE/5G||None||Pricing info|
|UQ WiMax||¥4,268–¥4,950||Unlimited||2.7Gbps||WiMax/4G LTE/5G||None or 13 months (cancellation fee ¥1,100)||Pricing info|
|Kashimo by KDDI||¥4,378||Unlimited||2.7Gbps||WiMax/4G LTE/5G||None||Pricing info|
|eConnect Mobile Wifi Monthly Plan||Approx. ¥6,000/month (¥264/day)||50GB/month||187.5Mbps||4G LTE||4 months||Pricing info|
|CD Japan Wifi||¥6,400–¥7,900||100GB or unlimited||187.5Mbps||4G LTE/5G||1 month||Pricing info|
Other Japan pocket wifi providers
The market is chock-full of long-term mobile wifi offerings — the ones we’ve mentioned here are just a small selection of what we reckon are some of the best pocket wifi deals. You could also check out au or SoftBank (directly), NTT, Mio, The Wifi, Mugen Wifi, Biglobe Wifi and Broad WiMax, or do a search for ポケットウィフィ in Japanese. Reddit can also be a useful source of reviews and info on the best pocket wifi in Japan.
Long-term pocket wifi in Japan: FAQs
You ask, we answer.
Is long-term unlimited pocket wifi in Japan actually unlimited?
Erm, sort of. Unlimited pocket wifi in Japan usually means that you can use a certain number of gigabytes at high speeds, but once you reach your monthly cap, speeds will slow to a crawl. You will also often be throttled if you use more than a certain number of gigabytes (e.g. 10-15GB) in a short period of time (e.g. 3 days). You can still use the internet with your slow speeds; you just might not be able to get much done, especially when it comes to streaming!
What is the fastest long-term pocket wifi in Japan?
The speeds you will see advertised are generally the maximum possible speeds the provider can offer on a particular router; these are not necessarily the actual speeds you will have in practice. Speeds can also vary depending on the area and even time of day, so unfortunately we can’t give you a clear answer on this one.
Which long-term pocket wifi is best in Japan?
Again, this is tough to answer, as it depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. If you are just getting set up, we recommend the SoftBank Unlimited T06 Plan from Wi-FiRental.com.
If you are fluent in Japanese, one of the myriad providers that have popped up in recent years, like Rakuten, might be your best bet for cheap long-term wifi. However, do expect more cumbersome applications!
Do I have to buy the rental company’s wifi router?
This comes down to the Japanese wifi provider you’re with. Some, like Mobal Wifi and Rakuten, don’t give you a choice — the router payment is baked into the total cost, but you do get to keep the device. Other providers, like Y! Mobile and UQ Wimax, give you a choice between buying one of their routers, or providing your own. This is useful if you already have one — but you’ll need to make sure it’s compatible with their network.
What if I lose or damage my rental wifi router?
What happens next depends on whether you’re renting or have purchased your device, but you’ll want to start by getting in touch with the rental company. They’ll charge you a set fee and help arrange a replacement.
If you’re worried about this happening, most companies offer insurance for your wifi device for a nominal fee. Opting in means you’ll be charged less (or nothing) in case you damage or lose your router.
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, sign-up requirements and T&Cs carefully before applying for any contracts. Post regularly updated. Last update in October, 2023, by Shyam Bhardwa.