The One about Renting Mobile Wi-Fi in Japan

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For anyone planning to travel to Japan, there is one major necessity if you have a cell phone, tablet or laptop accompanying you.  And that is a rental mobile WiFi or a prepaid SIM.

For any foreigner, traveling to Japan with a mobile Wi-Fi device allows you to use the GPS on Google Maps to find your destination, to use Hyperdia or Google Maps to ride the trains or subway in Japan in English and know how much the fare will be.  But also, if you want to blog, photos or text, access your documents via Google Docs or files on the cloud, you can do it with a WiFi router which is very cheap to rent in Japan.

But while you can rent them easily at the airport, if you are going to Japan near a holiday time or near a busy event, they may be rented out.  So, the best thing to do is to pre-pay and rent them early in advance.

And when you arrive to Japan, you pick it up at the airport in the post office.  When you leave, you put it in the package and drop it off at the post office at the airport.

Please note that the prices are from March 2015 and if you are looking at this page months/years later, prices and hardware may have changed.

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In Japan, especially if you are going to Tokyo, you have a variety of choices. Please note, I am focusing on the WiFi mobile device, not SIM.

It’s important to note that the four I will be discussing, myself and friends have not had any problems with any of the companies.  But there are price differences.

JAPAN WIRELESS (GREAT FOR THOSE ON A BUDGET)

Japan Wireless is possibly the cheapest company to get your WiFi device.  They offer a 21Mbps (3G) with a 21Mbps (Download) and 5.8Mbps (Upload) which is unlimited use.  The rates are fantastic as they are Y2,800 for two days, Y4,300 for one week and Y6,400 for two weeks.

While they do offer faster speeds, the problem is that the LTE models that supply 75Mbps are throttled to 128kbps after 10GB usage.  So, if you rent the device at the mid-month, 8GB or more may have been used up by other users by the time you get it.   So, if you have 2GB left, that really will put you in a bad position.  So, the best thing to do is go for the 21Mbps which is slower but 21Mbps (download) is still good, its unlimited and its cheap!

UPDATE: I used Japan Wireless on my last trip and it worked perfectly.  Received my device at the airport, was able to use it immediately.  The device was more than enough speed to do my traveling when I need to access Google Maps.  The only thing is that I was gone for most of the day and found myself running out of power.  The good news is they also include a battery backup.  I personally brought extra battery backups in order to make sure that I had Internet for at least 16 hours of when I was gone.

But  a good rule of thumb is when you are not using it, turn the device off and consume battery power.


Global Advanced Communications (GREAT FOR THOSE WHO WANT THE FASTEST SPEED)

Do you want faster speed up to 165Mbps?  Then Global Advanced Communications is the way to go!  Unlimited Internet access, 10-12 hours use on their mobile device and for two weeks, it’s almost $150.

But this is no doubt the way to go if you want the fastest speed.

UPDATE: A friend use this device and I felt that his device had better coverage in mountainous areas (we were near Mt. Fuji than the device I was using).


JCR (GREAT FOR THOSE WHO WANT A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT MIFI MOBILE RENTAL CHOICES)

For those who want more variety of choices, no data caps or throttling, then JCR is the way to go.  They are a bit more expensive compared to the other companies though.


Softbank (GREAT FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO RENT FROM A MAJOR CELL PHONE COMPANY)

Softbank is a major cell phone company in Japan and they offer WiFi mobile devices and SIM.  They charge a flat rate at Y1,590 per day + Y315 for administration fee and there is an optional Y220 a day insurance.

For me, I ended up choosing Japan Wireless for my trip to Japan in 2015.  Primarily for its price at $59 (USD with insurance) for two weeks, sure it’s 3G and only 21Mbps, but I’m fine with that.  I need it primarily for using Google Maps, Hyperdia and social media and blogging.

Sure, there are those who can bum off their friends Internet or go to Starbucks and even use the free public WiFi at a train station (beware of hackers).  But I need to be mobile during my trip, not sitting in a train station, restaurant or cafe.

But I recommend pre-paying for a rental Wi-Fi mobile device, as it and your traveling apps will be important for your trip to Tokyo!  Especially if you are not familiar with the area or do not speak or read Japanese.

Dennis A. Amith