UNLIMITED JAPAN POCKET WiFi RENTAL
I tested 20 wifi rental companies in Japan so you wont have to lose your money.
If you are reading this article, it’s because you are about to travel to Japan and you probably wonder what is the best way to have the internet at a reasonable price, is that right?
Well, let’s start with some few points.
First, there is two type of visitor in Japan. Tourist purpose or business matter. if you are here as a tourist looking for a web connection on the go, you are lucky but if you are here for business and you need a web connection for your work, means using a large amount of data such as download and upload, sorry to disappoint you but it won’t be as easy as you think, at least, it won’t be like home but still, not that bad.
Before I give you the recommended supplier, let me just explain a few points:
Hotel vs share house
Normally, we all have an internet provider at home and the web connection goes to a router and then to your computer, laptop or mobile. But when you go to another country, either you stay in a business hotel, a share house, capsule hotel or even at a friend’s house. Business hotel are expensive but offer a high-speed connection (charged per hours unfortunately) and share house or capsule hotel normally offer a medium web speed connection.
Avoid mobile roaming charges
When you travel, as soon as you cross the border, your mobile will start to charge you a roaming fee and the charges can add up very quickly even if you stay only few days because it is charged per data transfer, imagine watching a video on YouTube (insane) …
Conclusion, the only solution is renting a wifi router.
For the purpose of this article, i have decided to test every major internet companies in Japan offering wi-fi router with english customer service so please take my words, i know exactly which is the worst and which is the best and i will explain the reason why.
Why do you need wifi ?
Obvious reason, money
Again, if you have a mobile, you probably don’t want to pay the roaming charge so using a “local” wi-fi device prevent this charges. You will be able to have a web connection at the local’s fee, not at your mobile provider’s fee. That makes a huge difference, we are talking a minimum $200 USD saving if not more!
Another case is if you are a heavy data user, let’s say for YouTube or SuperAv videos by example or obviously for your work, this will save you from losing money, and when we travel, the first thing matter is the budget, right? Seriously, forget about using your own web connection, just rent it and you will sleep well at night.
Top 5 recommended
Tested one by one for an accurate result from 20 different major companies.
Here my top 5 recommended wifi provider in Japan based on important factors such as size, speed … including the “English” support which is very important if you have questions or issues to report in a quick time.
- Sakura Mobile Pocket Wifi
- Softbank 303 ZT
- Wifi walker from AU KDDI or Japan rail pass
- Pupuru wifi rental
- E connect wifi
How I ranked these companies
- Download speed
- Upload speed
- English support
- Device size (enough small to carry into my jeans pocket)
- English support speed reply
- Data Speed Reliability (Is it stable)
Which prefectures i tested the signal
I took the twenty devices for a period of 3 months trough Hiroshima, Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto up to Hokkaido. I even went on the top of Fuji-mountain and to Okinawa with these devices.
For the mobile users
Sakura Mobile is the winner for mobile users
Here the interesting part. Surprisingly, most of the devices have been very reliable for making me wonder if all of these companies were supplied by the same major supplier.
In my opinion, if you are looking for something that will keep the signal where ever you go and enough small to keep in your pants without making it too heavy, i would go with “Sakura Mobile“.
Pros: Perfect for the mobile user on the go worrying for signal and reliability and believe it or not, it’s even unlimited usage!
Cons: The device becomes very hot after few hours so if you keep it in your pants … If you are a heavy data user, a big no! Really, here an example:
From day 1, i uploaded a 5 GB file to a server. strangely, it went very well on the first day, i could upload it with a stable speed of 300 MB/s which is not bad but from day 2, trying to upload a 1 GB file, the speed went down to 63 KB/s and i got this upload speed for the next 2 weeks! The device has never reset the daily usage.
I know people who already used Sakura will say “you uploaded too much in 24 hours” and i am totally agreed but the terms say” 3 Gb per day of usage until the next day.
So again, the mobile user is perfect but for the business user in the need of a lot of data, that company is the wrong choice.
The plan I took for testing was: The Double Plan which is the biggest they can offer. You can use it with your mobile, laptop and tablet.
Here the Sakura Mobile Link: Sakura Mobile Pocket Wifi
For the business users
Pupuru is the winner for business users
This has not been as easy as i thought. When i say business i mean that your job is related to the web. If you are working in finance, mobile solution is perfect but for the web business user, if you are looking for uploading lot of data per day, unfortunately, even if you find a company claiming it’s fine, it simply won’t work for you. Every unlimited plan comes with a tiny term at bottom of the page saying “unlimited but 3GB allowance per day). So yes it’s working but not for the big web guy out there unless you take the same plan twice so you can switch between two devices using wireless.
So let say you are fine with 1 to 3 GB of upload per day, i would go with pupuruwifi, here the link:
Pros: Very good and fast customer service in English. Stable connection speed with a good signal
Cons: The daily usage limit is not suitable for a business user looking for a lot of data usage.
WiFi mobile and router Plans
Normally, these plans come unlimited.
For the mobile “pay as you go” 4 LTE plan
For the “heavy usage data” plan provided by Docomo. (You can connect laptop and mobile)
They offer 1000 yen discount on special holidays (Golden week, Hanami and cherry blossom festival, Christmas, New year …)
UPDATE: There is new plans, please visit the new Pupuru Plans for English Users:
Sakura Mobile Usage Data Stats
If you have a plan with Sakura and you need to see what is your download/upload usage, you can access this page:
Enter your booking ID and your given key number. You will find this information on the sheet when you received your wi-fi bag.
This is important to note that even if a plan comes unlimited, it never really true. There is always a limit. It is counted on an average of 1.3 GB daily limit regardless of the transfer type. As long as you don’t exceed this daily usage then you will be fine. They do this to make sure the connection is stable for the other members.
Where to pick up the device?
What i like with Japanese companies is the amazing support they provide. There are many way to get your kit.
First, you need to order online and i recommend to order at least one week before your trip to make sure your kit is available.
You can pick it up at the airport at the provider’s booth or they can even deliver to your hotel’s room. Just enter your info when you place your order and it’s done, very simple.
Here how it looks like when you receive your device
If you requested a shipping like i did, you will receive a big envelope. I was exhausted from the flight and a little bit nervous at Narita airport confused with so many booth so delivering the package is much easier.
And inside, you will find a bag like this. It comes with a charger, a wire and the device already charged. It doesn’t much time to fully recharge it.
How to Ship back the device
When you reach the last day of your trip, it’s time to put back everything in the envelope, seal it and find a mailbox on the street. No need to apply a stamp or go to post office and you wont even have to speak in japanese to someone if you worry, it’s every simple.
The mail box look like this
I hope my experiment will be useful to you. Visiting Japan should be a beautiful experience and having a mobile while traveling is a must. Wifi is the key if you don’t want to get lost in this crowded country among non english speakers. You can post a comment if you have any question.