Image of a SIM card, symbolizing mobile connectivity. This image is relevant to the blog post discussing how to access the internet in Japan using a SIM card.

How to get Internet in Japan without losing your trip budget

· 5 min read


Are you planning a trip to Japan or considering a longer stay in the Land of the Rising Sun? One of the most crucial aspects to sort out will be your internet connection. Japan is renowned for its cutting-edge technology and high-speed internet, offering a variety of options from fixed-line fiber-optic services to portable pocket WiFi devices. This guide dives deep into the comprehensive landscape of internet services in Japan, covering everything from major fixed-line providers and their plans to the convenience and flexibility of pocket WiFi. Whether you're a tourist needing quick internet access or an expat setting up a more permanent connection, understanding your options will ensure you stay connected smoothly and efficiently during your time in Japan.


Overview of Fixed-Line Internet Services in Japan

Major Fixed-Line Internet Providers

Japan's fixed-line internet landscape is dominated by a few key players, primarily NTT East and NTT West, which provide extensive coverage in eastern and western Japan respectively. These companies offer Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) services marketed under the brand name FLET's Hikari. Other significant providers include au KDDI and SoftBank, both of which also offer FTTH services known as au Hikari and SoftBank Hikari respectively. These providers ensure high-speed internet access, crucial for both residential and business customers in Japan's densely populated areas.

Types of Internet Connections Available

The primary type of internet connection available in Japan is Fiber Optics (FTTH), known locally as "Hikari Faiba." This technology provides superior speed and reliability, with typical download speeds up to 1 Gbps, and in some cases, providers like Nuro Hikari offer speeds up to 2 Gbps. Despite the prevalence of fiber optics, other forms such as ADSL and dial-up are still available but are less common due to their lower speeds and efficiency.

Cost of Services

The cost of fiber optic internet services in Japan varies depending on the type of plan and provider. For instance, NTT East's "FLET’S HIKARI NEXT Family Giga Line" plan costs approximately ¥5,400 per month, which does not include ISP charges. In contrast, the "FLET’S HIKARI NEXT Mansion Giga Line" for larger residential buildings is cheaper at about ¥3,050 per month. Total monthly costs, including ISP fees, generally range between ¥7,000 and ¥9,000. Setup fees also apply, averaging around ¥6,000 but can be as high as ¥20,000.

English Language Support

For expatriates and international residents, the level of English support can be a significant concern. Major providers like NTT, au KDDI, and SoftBank offer English-language websites, and customer service varies by the provider and the individual customer service representative. Some ISPs specifically cater to English-speaking customers, offering additional support and services to ease the setup and maintenance of internet services.

Availability and Installation

Fiber optic internet is widely available in major metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama. However, availability might be limited in rural or less populated areas. Installation involves setting up the physical fiber optic lines into residences, which can be a barrier if the building isn't already equipped. The installation process can take from a few days to several weeks, depending on the existing infrastructure and the provider's schedule.

By understanding these key aspects of fixed-line internet services in Japan, residents can make informed decisions about selecting the best internet service provider based on their specific needs, location, and budget.

Top Providers for Fiber-Optic Internet in Japan: Features and Benefits


FLET'S HIKARI, operated by NTT East and NTT West, is one of Japan's most widespread fiber-optic services. It offers various plans tailored to different needs, including single-user and family usage. The service is known for its reliability and extensive coverage, especially in urban areas. Speeds can reach up to 1 Gbps, facilitating high-speed internet access for streaming, gaming, and heavy downloading. FLET'S HIKARI also offers options for bundled services with NTT's mobile and voice plans, potentially reducing the overall cost for consumers. More details can be found on their official website.


au HIKARI is provided by KDDI, one of the largest telecom operators in Japan. It is renowned for its high-speed internet services, with plans offering speeds up to 2 Gbps, among the fastest in the country. au HIKARI is particularly competitive in its pricing, especially for KDDI mobile subscribers, who can avail additional discounts. The provider also stands out with its customer service, available in multiple languages, which is a significant advantage for non-Japanese speakers. For more information, visit au HIKARI's page.


NURO HIKARI by Sony Network Communications is notable for offering one of the fastest residential internet speeds in Japan, reaching up to 10 Gbps in certain areas. This makes it an excellent choice for tech-savvy users and heavy internet users. Despite its limited availability, primarily in the Tokyo metropolitan area, NURO HIKARI is highly sought after for its cutting-edge technology and superior speeds. Subscription details can be explored further on NURO's website.

Comparison of Features

When comparing these services, it's essential to consider individual needs such as speed requirements, budget, and whether bundle deals are desirable. FLET'S HIKARI offers widespread coverage and reliability, au HIKARI provides excellent value for KDDI mobile users, and NURO HIKARI delivers unparalleled speeds for high-demand users. Each service has its unique set of features, making them suitable for different demographics and usage patterns.

Installation and Setup

The installation process can vary significantly between providers. Generally, an initial setup fee is required, and the presence of pre-existing infrastructure can affect installation times. While FLET'S HIKARI and au HIKARI have a broader service area, NURO HIKARI's installation might be limited to specific regions but offers faster setup where available. Potential users should check the availability and expected setup duration at their specific location directly through the providers' websites or customer service centers.

Each provider has tailored their offerings to cater to the diverse needs of internet users in Japan, making the country's fiber-optic internet landscape both competitive and high-quality.

Understanding Contract Terms and Conditions

When choosing a fixed-line internet provider in Japan, it's crucial to understand the terms and conditions of the contract. Most providers require a two-year contract with penalties for early termination. This can be particularly challenging for expats who may not stay in Japan for the full duration of the contract. Always review the contract details carefully to avoid unexpected fees and ensure that the terms align with your stay duration in Japan. For more detailed information, refer to the Sakura Mobile guide.

Evaluating Internet Speed and Reliability

The speed and reliability of your internet connection are vital, especially if you work from home or enjoy streaming services. In Japan, fiber internet is known for its high speed and reliability. Providers like NTT FLET'S Hikari, au Hikari, and NURO Hikari offer various plans with different speeds and pricing. It's advisable to check the average connection speeds provided by each service, as listed on review sites like Minsoku, to choose a provider that meets your needs. For specifics on speed comparisons, visit Minsoku’s data.

Considering Installation and Setup

The installation process for fixed-line internet in Japan can vary from one provider to another. Typically, you should expect a waiting period of 2 to 4 weeks from the date of application until the service is active. This includes scheduling an installation appointment. Some providers might offer quicker setup options or temporary internet solutions until your fixed line is active. For detailed steps on the installation process, check the guidelines provided by Sakura Mobile.

Language and Customer Support

For expats, navigating customer service in a foreign language can be daunting. Selecting a provider that offers support in English can significantly enhance your experience. Companies like Asahi Net provide customer support in English, which is beneficial for resolving issues swiftly and understanding your service better. More information on providers with English support can be found on Sakura Mobile’s review.

Bundling Services for Better Deals

Many internet providers in Japan offer bundled services, including internet, mobile, and television packages, which can lead to significant savings. Providers like SoftBank and docomo offer discounts on your monthly bill if you use their mobile services along with their internet service. Before choosing a provider, consider which services you need and check if bundling can reduce your overall costs. For more details on how bundling can save you money, refer to the information on Sakura Mobile’s website.

Pocket WiFi Services in Japan: Essential Information

Overview of Pocket WiFi Rentals

Pocket WiFi devices are a popular choice for travelers in Japan due to their convenience and reliability. These devices provide a portable internet connection that can be shared among multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The rental process is straightforward, typically involving online booking before arrival and pickup at airports or hotels. Companies like Sakura Mobile and Ninja WiFi are prominent providers, offering various plans including unlimited data options.

Choosing the Right Data Plan

When selecting a Pocket WiFi plan, it's crucial to consider your data needs. Many providers offer unlimited data plans, but these may be subject to a fair usage policy, which can reduce speeds after a certain amount of data is used. For instance, Ninja WiFi offers plans with a daily high-speed data cap, after which the speed is throttled. Assessing your daily internet usage can help in choosing a plan that aligns with your needs, ensuring continuous connectivity without unexpected slowdowns.

Coverage and Connectivity

The effectiveness of a Pocket WiFi device largely depends on network coverage. Major providers in Japan utilize networks like Softbank, Docomo, and AU, which offer extensive coverage across the country, including remote and rural areas. Before traveling to less urban areas, checking the coverage map of your chosen provider, such as the maps provided by Sakura Mobile, ensures that connectivity issues are minimized.

Cost Considerations

Cost is a significant factor when renting Pocket WiFi devices. Prices vary based on the rental duration and the data plan chosen. Short-term rentals are generally more expensive per day compared to long-term rentals. Providers like H.I.S offer competitive rates for longer stays, making them a cost-effective option for extended trips. Additionally, booking in advance can often secure better rates and ensure availability, especially during peak travel seasons.

Managing and Avoiding Additional Charges

To avoid incurring extra charges, it's important to handle the device carefully and adhere to the rental agreement's terms. Most providers require the device to be returned with all its components in good condition. Using the prepaid return envelope provided by companies like Japan Wireless helps ensure that the device is returned on time and securely. Additionally, opting for insurance can cover potential damages or loss, reducing the financial risk involved.

By understanding these key aspects of Pocket WiFi rentals in Japan, travelers can enjoy a seamless and connected experience throughout their stay.

Comparative Analysis of Pocket WiFi Plans in Japan

Overview of Pocket WiFi Services in Tokyo

Tokyo offers a variety of pocket WiFi rental services that cater to both short-term visitors and long-term residents. Services like FoxWifi, NINJA WiFi, and Sakura Mobile are highly recommended due to their reliability, ease of pickup, and customer service. FoxWifi, for instance, is praised for its high-speed connection and ease of use across various locations in Japan, including remote areas and public transport.

Key Features of Top Pocket WiFi Providers

  1. FoxWifi: Offers truly unlimited data, easy airport and hotel pickup, and includes a free mobile battery. It is particularly noted for its stable connection and long battery life, supporting 10-12 hours of usage (FoxWifi).

  2. NINJA WiFi: Known for its cost-effectiveness and easy pickup options in Tokyo. It is a popular choice among tourists for its straightforward service (Matcha-JP).

  3. Sakura Mobile: Stands out for its excellent English customer service, making it a favorable option for international visitors who might need assistance during their stay (Matcha-JP).

Comparison of Data Plans and Pricing

While specific pricing details are often subject to change and promotions, FoxWifi generally offers competitive rates with the promise of the best rates available. NINJA WiFi and Sakura Mobile also provide various plans which can cater to different data needs, from daily to monthly usage, often without worrying about data limits as highlighted by Japan Wireless.

Accessibility and Convenience

All top services offer convenient pickup and return options at major airports like Narita and Haneda, and some also at locations like Shinjuku. This makes it easy for travelers to access the internet shortly after arrival without any hassle. The return processes are also simplified, which is beneficial for tourists managing tight schedules.

Recommendations for Specific User Needs

  • Short-term tourists: FoxWifi and NINJA WiFi are excellent for short stays due to their flexible plans and reliable coverage across tourist hotspots.
  • Long-term visitors: For those staying longer, such as students or expats, Sakura Mobile might be more suitable due to its customer service and plans tailored for longer stays. Additionally, considering installing a home internet connection for stays extending beyond a year might be more economical (Matcha-JP). Each service offers unique advantages depending on the duration of stay and specific needs of the user, making it essential to assess both the duration of your stay and your internet needs before making a decision.

Data SIM Cards: Options and Considerations

Overview of Data SIM Card Providers in Japan

Japan offers a variety of SIM card options for travelers, each tailored to different needs and durations of stay. Notable providers include Mobal, Sakura Mobile, and IIJmio Travel SIM, which are popular for their flexible data plans and accessibility for foreigners. For instance, Mobal offers both data-only and voice and data SIM cards, which can be delivered internationally (Mobal). Sakura Mobile is praised for its customer support and competitive pricing, providing plans like a 30-day package with unlimited data for approximately $23 (Sakura Mobile).

eSIM versus Physical SIM Cards

The choice between eSIMs and physical SIM cards is significant, depending on the device compatibility and personal convenience. eSIMs, such as those offered by Holafly, provide a seamless setup without the need to swap physical cards and are ideal for devices supporting this technology. Holafly's eSIM for Japan includes unlimited data plans, which are a boon for heavy data users (Holafly). On the other hand, physical SIM cards, available at airport vending machines or stores like Bic Camera, might appeal more to those using devices not compatible with eSIM technology.

Data Plans and Pricing

Data plans vary widely among providers, with options ranging from short-term 5-day plans to monthly plans. Pricing is competitive; for example, a 30-day plan with 3GB data from Nippon SIM is priced at 1,980 yen, making it a budget-friendly option for light data users (Nippon SIM). In contrast, providers like Rakuten Mobile offer unlimited data plans for longer stays, though the internet speed may vary (Rakuten Mobile).

Purchasing and Activation Process

Purchasing a SIM card in Japan is straightforward, with many options available at airports, electronics stores, and online platforms. Activation usually involves simple steps such as inserting the SIM card into the device and following the activation instructions provided by the carrier. For eSIMs, activation typically involves scanning a QR code and configuring the device settings accordingly.

Considerations for Network Compatibility and Device Requirements

Before purchasing any SIM card, it is crucial to ensure that your device is unlocked and compatible with Japan's network bands (700/800/1800/2100MHz). This compatibility check can prevent issues with connectivity upon arrival in Japan. Most providers offer detailed guides on checking device compatibility on their websites or at points of sale (Japan SIM Card Guide).

By considering these factors, travelers can choose the most suitable SIM card option, ensuring reliable and cost-effective internet access during their stay in Japan.

Public WiFi Availability in Japan

Overview of Public WiFi Networks

Japan offers a variety of public WiFi options across different locations, including airports, train stations, convenience stores, and tourist attractions. Major international airports like Narita and Haneda provide free WiFi with simple login procedures available in multiple languages (Selectra). Convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, LAWSON, and FamilyMart have also made WiFi access widely available, enhancing connectivity for both residents and tourists.

Access Points in Transportation Hubs

Transportation hubs such as train stations and airports are pivotal access points for public WiFi. All major international airports in Japan offer free WiFi services, which are generally reliable and easy to access. For instance, Narita and Haneda airports provide user-friendly connectivity options geared towards international travelers, supporting multiple languages for ease of access (Japan Travel).

Convenience Stores and Public Spaces

Convenience stores across Japan, ubiquitously located, serve as crucial nodes for free WiFi access. Chains like 7-Eleven and FamilyMart offer WiFi, recently simplified in terms of connectivity and language accessibility. This widespread availability supports not only locals but also tourists navigating through cities and rural areas alike (Selectra).

Tourist Attractions and Shopping Centers

In preparation for international events such as the Tokyo Olympics, major tourist sites across Japan have significantly improved their public WiFi infrastructure. Locations like shopping centers and cultural attractions now frequently offer free WiFi, although the connection quality can vary. Tourists can generally find WiFi access points at large malls and during visits to popular sites, where connectivity is often accompanied by tourist information in multiple languages (Selectra).

Emergency and Disaster-Related WiFi Access

In response to natural disasters, Japan has implemented an emergency WiFi service via the SSID: 00000JAPAN. This service allows users to connect to any Japanese mobile service provider's network during emergencies, regardless of their subscription status. This initiative was notably utilized during events such as the 2018 Hokkaido earthquake and the 2019 typhoons, providing critical connectivity during times of need (Lexology).

These strategic placements and enhancements of public WiFi access points underscore Japan's commitment to improving internet accessibility, catering to both the daily needs of its residents and the influx of international tourists.

Costs of Using Internet Cafes in Japan

Japanese internet cafes offer a variety of pricing models, typically based on the duration of use. Customers can choose from time segments such as half an hour, one hour, or multiple hours with rates varying by time of day and location. Prices are generally higher on weekends and public holidays, especially in popular urban areas like Shinjuku or Shibuya in Tokyo. Discounts may be available through promotions or by booking longer time packages. Additional fees are charged for special services like shower rooms. For more detailed pricing, refer to the descriptions provided by Tsunagu Japan.

Locations of Internet Cafes

Internet cafes are predominantly found in large cities throughout Japan, often situated in commercial buildings near major train stations. This makes them easily accessible for both locals and travelers. Smaller towns may have fewer options available. For specific locations and what to expect in terms of accessibility, Tsunagu Japan offers insights into where these cafes are typically located.

Services Offered by Internet Cafes

Beyond basic internet access, Japanese internet cafes provide a range of services that cater to diverse needs. These include computer and desk rentals, manga libraries, movie streaming, gaming facilities, and even karaoke rooms. Some cafes also offer food and beverages, massage chairs, and overnight stays, making them a versatile option for entertainment and work. For a comprehensive list of services, How to Japan provides detailed accounts of the amenities available.

Special Features for Digital Nomads and Remote Workers

For digital nomads and those needing a quiet workspace, certain internet cafes like Kaikatsu Club offer soundproof rooms and high-speed PCs, ideal for video conferencing and intensive online work. This adaptability makes internet cafes a viable alternative to traditional coworking spaces, especially for short-term needs. More information on facilities tailored for remote work can be found on Nomads Embassy.

Usage Trends and Cultural Relevance

Internet cafes in Japan serve as more than just a place to access the internet; they are integrated into the lifestyle of many, providing a temporary solution for accommodation or leisure activities. Their continued popularity is indicative of broader social and economic trends, such as the high cost of living and the need for flexible, private spaces for work and relaxation. Insights into how these cafes fit into daily life in Japan are discussed by sources like Tsunagu Japan and Medium’s How to Japan.

Assessing Internet Speed and Stability

When selecting an internet provider in Japan, it's crucial to consider the speed and stability of the service. Fiber-optic connections, such as those provided by Hikari services, offer speeds ranging from 1Gbps to 10Gbps, which are suitable for heavy streaming, gaming, and high-speed downloads (Source). For consistent quality, J:COM NET and Biglobe Hikari are noted for their reliable network performance across various times of the day, including peak hours (Source).

Coverage and Availability

Not all internet services cover every region equally. Urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka have a wide range of providers ensuring high-speed internet access. However, rural areas may have limited options. It's important to verify if the provider services your specific area and whether the coverage meets your needs (Source).

Contract Terms and Flexibility

Most internet contracts in Japan are for 1 to 2 years and breaking them can incur high penalty fees. Some providers offer more flexible terms or even short-term contracts, which might be more suitable for those not planning to stay long-term. Always read the fine print to understand the commitment and any potential penalties involved (Source).

Customer Service and Language Support

For non-Japanese speakers, finding a provider that offers customer support in English is crucial. Providers like Sakura Internet cater specifically to English-speaking customers, although their rates might be slightly higher than local providers. This can significantly ease the setup and troubleshooting process (Source).

Cost Considerations

The cost of internet services in Japan typically ranges from 4000 to 6000 yen per month. It's advisable to compare the prices of different providers and check what is included in those costs, such as installation fees or equipment rentals. Some providers might offer bundled services with discounts, which can also influence the overall cost (Source).

Cost Analysis: Comparing Internet Services for Different User Needs

Mobile Internet Options for Tourists

Tourists visiting Japan have several options for mobile internet access, each with varying costs and benefits. Pocket WiFi devices are popular due to their convenience and can be rented at rates starting from approximately $5 per day. Local SIM cards offer a more integrated solution with prices around $3 for 1GB of data (eSIM Japan). For those with compatible devices, eSIMs provide a flexible and often cheaper alternative, with no physical SIM card required, reducing the hassle of switching cards.

Long-Term Internet Solutions for Residents

Residents in Japan looking for long-term internet solutions can choose between several major providers. Monthly costs for fixed broadband services like fiber-optic connections typically range from $30 to $60, depending on the speed and provider. Comparatively, long-term pocket WiFi contracts might offer a more flexible solution, especially for those who do not wish to commit to a lengthy contract (Tokyo Cheapo).

Data-Only vs. Data + Voice Plans

For individuals who rely heavily on internet services but do not require traditional voice calls, data-only plans are available and tend to be cheaper. These plans can cost as little as $10 per month for substantial data allowances. Conversely, data + voice plans are beneficial for those needing comprehensive mobile services, with costs slightly higher, generally starting around $15 per month, depending on the data cap and additional services included (Tokyo Cheapo).

Comparing Costs Across Top Mobile Operators

The major mobile operators in Japan, such as NTT DoCoMo, AU/KDDI, SoftBank, and Rakuten Mobile, offer competitive rates and services. For instance, AU/KDDI is noted for its extensive coverage and support for eSIM technology, which is particularly advantageous for tourists (eSIM Japan). Pricing for basic mobile internet plans starts around $20 per month, with variations based on data limits and additional features.

Public vs. Private WiFi Accessibility

Access to WiFi in Japan varies significantly between public and private offerings. Public WiFi, available at train stations and tourist spots, is often free but may offer limited connectivity and security. In contrast, private WiFi networks, typically provided through cafes or rented pocket WiFi devices, offer more reliable and secure connections. Prices for private WiFi access can vary, with daily rentals for pocket WiFi starting at around $5, and café access generally being free with a purchase (Tokyo Cheapo).

Each internet service option in Japan caters to different user needs, balancing cost against convenience, speed, and coverage. Tourists might prefer the flexibility of pocket WiFi or eSIMs, while residents might benefit from the stability of long-term contracts with major carriers.


Navigating the internet service options in Japan can initially seem daunting due to the variety of choices and technical details involved. However, by considering your specific needs—whether it's high-speed requirements, budget constraints, or the duration of your stay—you can make an informed decision that best suits your circumstances. From the high-speed realms of fiber-optic connections with providers like NTT and au KDDI to the flexible, on-the-go access provided by pocket WiFi rentals, Japan's internet services are designed to cater to the high standards of both residents and visitors. Remember to review contracts carefully, consider bundling services, and check for English-language support if necessary. With the right preparation, you can enjoy seamless internet connectivity, enhancing your experience in one of the world's most technologically advanced countries.

Nigel Arbia

About Nigel Arbia

Hey there, I'm Nigel – a tech enthusiast, Japan lover, and startup nerd with a deep-rooted passion for nature and Asian culture. When I'm not immersed in the latest tech trends or exploring the vibrant streets of Japan, you'll find me sharing my passion, knowledge, and adventures to help others navigate the hidden gems of Japan and discover the wonders of the world around us. Join me on this journey of discovery and innovation as we dive into the intersection of travel, culture, and nature in Japan!

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