Free WiFi in Japan? Good luck.

So you want free WiFi in Japan? Good luck sucker.
Yeah, yeah, I use WiFi all the time with my WiFi-only iPad and my netbook. However, free anything is never easy is Japan (just try to find paper towels in a restroom or napkins in a regular restaurant), and finding free WiFi is always iffy in Japan*. Despite the normal uselessness of the Japan Tourism Agency (3Yen / 2011-11-19), they are offering this valuable resource for finding a WiFi connection.

Live Map of WiFi by Japan Tourism Agency
wifi live map tourism agency..
japan big welcome radioactive
Fair use – Parody

*As explained in the Japan Times’ seminal article, Why good WiFi is so hard to find in Japan (2012-04-18): years before the age of the smartphone, on i-mode and its competitors, over 70 million Japanese users — the same amount as PC Web users–were enjoying Internet access through their phones…flatrate data plans [meant] people began to do everything Net-related from their cellphones. For these users, there was no need for a network of free WiFi at shops and cafesmore…
Whatever the lame rationalization, the lack of free WiFI in Japan still sucks.

Published by


I'm a pale, alien, quadruped who has worked for 25+ years at "Maybe-the-Largest Inc." in Tokyo.

13 thoughts on “Free WiFi in Japan? Good luck.”

  1. “…free WiFi in Japan? Good luck sucker…”

    I believe the politically correct term is, “Rots of ruck sucker.”

    The Japan Tourism Agency is offering “this valuable resource for finding a WiFi connection” ONLINE, which just might require WiFi access, right? (~_^)

  2. Except that there is free wifi in Japan, and it’s not as difficult to find as you make it out to be. Just because it’s not openly advertised doesn’t mean people haven’t mapped out where you can use it.

  3. Except that there is free wifi in Japan..

    As I said in the above article, I use free Wifi everyday in Tokyo with my WiFi-only iPad (but it takes plenty of planning to make sure I can get connected). As the linked Japan Times report says, most Western tourists are deeply annoyed by the lack of free WiFi spots.

    I have learned, that major train stations in Tokyo have WiFi, but most often the WiFi requires a password from a local internet provider–My provider, SoftBank, gives 10MB/s WiMax accesses to their broadband subscribers at several hundred access points here in Tokyo. I am keenly aware of this because I ONLY use free WiFI for SkypeIn/Out, FaceTime, Viber, etc. for mobile calling (I don’t pay for frivolous cellphone service).

  4. You’re right, it’s not easy. Plenty of FON connections around but for anyone who doesn’t read Japanese, it’s a problem to get hooked up.

    Fukuoka City surprised me recently when I was sat with iPad on the subway and suddenly found myself automatically connected to high-speed wi-fi.

    However, what you might consider ‘frivolous cellphone service’ need not be like that. I have an iPhone on Softbank and it’s useful for some things. But the cellphones that really work in our family are with Willcom: my wife pays for hers. It’s not expensive either. And because of that we got three free handsets: one for me, one for each of my eldest kids. Calls between them are free. Basically equals one paid handset and three free walkie-talkies.

  5. Alfie Goodrich wrote:
    …Fukuoka City surprised me recently when I was sat with iPad on the subway and suddenly found myself automatically connected to high-speed wi-fi.

    That happens to me from time to time, especially when visiting clients in Tokyo’s financial districts like Otemachi.

    Alfie Goodrich wrote:
    Basically equals one paid handset and three free walkie-talkies

    I have a special deal on AU that works out like that. You still have to hold a gun to my head for me to a call outside my family–I only use SkypeOut and Viber.

    (I occasionally work for SoftBank and they have given me an iPhone. However, I cannot justify wasting 4,600yen/$50 month minimum charge for what I consider should be free. Even the discount pricing of 3600yen/m, “smartphones” are stupid. I only budget 5,000yen/month for ALL communications: fiber broadband, IP phone, cellphone, virtual fax, etc. And, I consider 5,000yen/m wildly extravagant.)

  6. UPDATE:

    JR East plans free Wi-Fi for tourists
    The Japan Times Sep. 6, 2012
    East Japan Railway Co. said it will begin a free public Wi-Fi service Oct. 1 so that foreigners visiting Japan can connect to the Internet.
    JR East said it decided to set up the free wireless LAN service in response to the many calls to provide an environment for Internet connectivity for foreign visitors…more…

  7. I lived near Tokyo for a summer, in a small town called Kamakura. You can get there by train in about half an hour from Tokyo. Kamakura has incredible temples and shrines, in addition to being on the ocean and a key surfers beach! It used to be the seat of the original Japanese government in samarai era times. Very interesting and a good contrast to the bustle of Tokyo.

  8. Janet wrote:
    I lived near Tokyo for a summer, in a small town called Kamakura…

    I used to work a couple stops from Kamakura—A great place but there sure ain’t no free WiFi to be found.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>