Note: This is part 3 of a series dedicated to my advice on travelling to Japan. For the entire series, see:
• Part 1 - When to Go & Where to Stay
• Part 2 - Getting Around
• Part 3 - Staying Connected & Saving Money
Some people like to go on vacation and disconnect. That is fine for some vacations, but without connection in Japan, it’s quite impossible to navigate the transit systems. Surprisingly, free wifi is spotty in Japan, although it seems to be getting a bit better in Tokyo. Also, I like to post photos and check in to stops on Foursquare while I’m in Japan. I also need to communicate with my Japanese friends via LINE. As a result, I rely on pocket wifi to stay connected in Japan.
Pocket wifi allows you to disable your mobile devices’ data plans and connect to a small wifi device that you carry with you. They’re quite inexpensive in Japan, but wifi speeds vary. Most Japanese Airbnb’s have pocket wifi that you can use while you’re renting the unit, but I now always get one at the start of my trip that we can take from city to city with us. I recommend Sakura Mobile because they have amazing customer service (no, this is not a sponsored post! I just really love these guys). Alternatively, you can rent a sim card in Japan for Android or iPhone, but I have never bothered with that because with a mobile wifi, you can share it if you're travelling with others. If you do use a pocket wifi, make sure it’s password protected! One of the Airbnb wifi’s was unlocked, and I remember noticing on a train ride that 15-20 people had connected to it, which severely slowed it down.