Last time we visited Japan, we barely had any internet access. We generally managed fine but that was not an option for me this trip. With all my travelling around to new places, being on my own and wanting to do some work and keep Asking For Trouble and Super Cute Kawaii running in my absence, I needed reliable internet.
Japan has been notoriously bad at offering free wifi but it has improved recently. A lot of hotels now have free wifi as do some shops, malls and transportation, but it’s still not very reliable. If you want to be able to share photos, use maps and check information on the go then there are a few options available – renting a phone / sim card or the Pocket Wifi. The first two are great if you need to make a lot of phone calls. Otherwise, the Pocket Wifi is definitely the best plan.
The Pocket Wifi is an extremely handy little device that you can rent for your stay which will give you a high speed internet connection in most areas of Japan. You can bring it everywhere with you and can also connect multiple devices so it’s great for sharing between a few people or if you’re bringing an iPhone, Kindle, laptop etc. Everyone and everything can be online at the same time!
Lots of places offer the Pocket Wifi and you can even just pick one up at the airport but it’s probably safer to book in advance for as many days as you need. I ordered mine from Japan Experience with my Rail Pass and arranged for it to be sent to my hotel on the date I arrived. It was duly handed over when I checked in and I set it up straight away.
Inside the envelope was the Pocket Wifi along with a padded pouch, power cable and instructions. It’s only a few steps to set it up and I had no problems at all. The Pocket Wifi is a little smaller than an iPhone so easy to carry around. It does get quite warm so I always kept it in the pouch and turned it off when I was in the hotel (all but one of the hotels I stayed in had good wifi). The charge usually lasted all day but when I was travelling around it would have run out if I hadn’t turned it off for a few hours here and there.
I always got a great connection through it even on the subway and up mountains so unless you’re going to very rural or remote areas it should be fine. The data usage supposedly has a limit per month but the stats screen on the device always said I hadn’t used any data at all so I don’t know if it’s not actually recorded or if that’s just a legal thing so they can cancel it if you’re streaming video all day.
On the last day, I packed everything back into the return envelope and dropped it in the postbox at the airport. I kept mine until the last minute so I could use it on the train but you will be fined if you accidentally take it through security and have to return it from home so post it earlier if you’re forgetful!
Overall, the Pocket Wifi is brilliant, easy to use and completely changed how I spent my trip. I was able to navigate with Google Maps and look for cafes and interesting things nearby, check the next shinkansen while I was on the subway to the station, instagram photos throughout the day and catch up on blogs and social media on the train. I would definitely rent one for future trips and wish they were available for other countries too.