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:
For the “mobile” and “heavy usage data” user plan
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.
Hello, I have a question. Did you test Sakura’s Pay as you Go plans? The website states that if you pay for XX amount of data then you can use that data at any rate without any throttling. For example, if I purchase 10gb of data I should we be able to use that all in one day with no issue. Do you know if that is true?
Yes i did test the “pay-as-you-go” plan with Sakura as well.
Let me be honest in my answer even if i like Sakura’s company very much.
Data … Every company use data as a promotional tool. What i mean by that is don’t trust too much what every company claim to give. For an unknown reason, i found that pay as you go or unlimited plan are fast but as soon as they notice you are using too much data in short time, your speed suddenly become slower even if they say there wont be any speed limit. It will be fast but they have to maintain the bandwidth to not affect all the other users. In my case, as they claim it was really fast at first (225 MBPS) but i was using the connection non stop and it became down to 50 MBPS before i used the entire GB). Also, it depends how far you will be from their system.
But to answer to your question, yes you will be able to use the 10GB in 24 hours without being cut off but ! There is a big but, i don’t know how you will use it but there is always a limit data per day even if they say you can use your 10GB in 1 day. There is a strange trend among wifi companies in Japan that within 24 hours, after you used 3GB, it will become slow until the next day (reset system).
So the answer is yes, you will be able to use 10GB in one day but can not guarantee a stable speed at 225 MBPS within the same day.
I hope my answer could help you 🙂
Welcome to Japan by the way !!
I see that Pupuru has a 10 GB data usage maximum wi fi and then a no data limit Wi-Fi as well. Is the no data limit one much larger than the 10 GB one? Can they both fit inside a pocket or is the no data limit one much heavier and uncomfortable while traveling?
Every wifi company in Japan offer a very small size wifi device, enough small to carry in your jeans pocket.
About plan, I strongly recommend to “always: use unlimited.
Why ? Because limited or not, every company in Japan gives full speed until you reach 3GB in your 24 hours to then downgrade the speed to around 1 to 2 Mbps.
So the answer is the plan wont change the device size normally. Router device size are always very small so do not worry, it’s even very light 🙂
Thanks for your article
I’m finishing up a 10 day trip to Japan and wanted to highlight my poor experience using the mobile wifi routers. Won’t name the company here :-p
I have an iPhone, unfortunately, iPhones can’t tell the difference between unmetered wifi and metered wifi
As other people have found, outside of disabling mail fetching, disabling background refresh and activating low power mode it is l very difficult to prevent a particular App from using WiFi. Unless I am mistaken, it’s an “all-or-nothing proposition”; for iPhones i.e I can only turn off WiFi for the whole phone, not on an app-by-app basis.
My low tech solution during my travel was to to switch off my mobile wifi router as much as possible, mainly to save battery however I also thought that “unlimited” part of the data plan meant unlimited , however I quickly burned through my “allocation” 5 days into my 10 day trip.
I soon found that low speed mode was not enough for me to do anything to anything useful, for example I could not use Google maps to find out where I was, and ironically I could not even access the rental company website to check data usage or even top up!
When I did manage to get to an wifi hotspot, i found that buying additional data was a really expensive option, to the point it made zero financial sense.
It turned out to be cheaper for me to send the router back by by post a few days early and just rely on public hotspots and sheer luck to get around.
My question for you is, can you recommend the best unmetered “always on ” option for mobile wifi in Japan for iPhone users?
Does a thing always exist?
Alternatively would it be cheaper and easier to use a local sim, are these types of sim available to tourists on a short term basis?
Welcome your thoughts
I am happy you came here to Japan to visit !
But, it is unfortunate that you had trouble with your wifi.
More i read your details more i wonder which company did you use !
Normally, you can find many unlimited plan.
Let say with Sakura Company, it does not matter if you have IPhone or Android, you don;t even need to worry about disable the background refresh because it’s unlimited
It’s true however, there is a daily limit for the high speed usage which is 3 to 4 GB per day but even though, after you use that amount, you still have access.
If you use it only to travel such as checking the train map or google the restaurant, you are so fine.
For the battery, please bring a extra portable charger, now it become very small size to carry in pocket so you wont have to worry about battery anymore.
Yes, i still recommend that one: https://www.sakuramobile.jp/mobile-router/
Most of my foreigner friend use it and as you see the link is not a affiliated link so i earn nothing by telling you this but it;s working just well.
The only down side is if you use it for your work. Let say this way:
Per 24 hours, you used 3GB in total at 20 Mbps then as soon as you used your 3GB in the day, it will become 1 Mbps until the next day. Yes it become slow but you still can use Google map for sure. Well, it was working with my friend so it should with your mobile too.
I really wonder which company did you use and which plan ?
Normally, starbuck wifi is free but terribly slow ! If you found it faster than your wifi than yes, there is a big issue with the company you used.
One important note i must mentioned, many have no idea but when we travel, we like to listen music using streaming app. This is a bandwidth killer ! It needs to be considered because you can use easily 10 GB per day just by playing non stop live music all day.
Loved your blog page!!!The stuff that you have remarked up here is superbly wonderful and I vigorously thank you for the same…
Thank you 🙂
wow this is one of the most amazing and helpful articles i have ever read. Thank you so much. This article had all the information i was looking for! I really appreciate your time on this one 🙂
Just need your advise . Is 600mb enough per day
Well it depend on your use.
If you will use it for traveling such as using map, yes it will be enough in my opinion
But if you will use it to watch video online + using map, the answer is that you “may” be short in bandwidth
Additionally, if it’s for your work, you will be safer with a bigger plan
But, one think i like about this is even if you use the 600MB daily plan and you use more, they wont stop your connection, they will only downgrade the speed which is acceptable if it’s for walking outside and visiting Japan.
Watching video online such as youtube is the bandwidth killer, just keep this in mind 😉