Renting a Pocket Wifi Router in Japan

Mark wiens

Timeļ¼š01-15

If youre wondering how best to stay connected while youre traveling around Japan, a pocket wifi router might be the solution. Often more practical thantourist SIM cards, especially useful if you are traveling in a group or have multiple devices (e.g. two phones, a tablet, laptop and so on), and super simple to collect and drop off, these mobile wifi routers are a clever choice. Here, we show you how to rent a portable wifi router in Japan, as well as a few of the best options in terms of value, data usage and length of stay.

Its very easy to rent a pocket wifi router for your trip to Japan. All you need to do is fill out an online application (most providers have English web pages for tourists), and the portable router will be ready for collection at the airport when you arrive, or delivered to youraccommodationshortly after (or even before) you get there. Both options are often free, but if not, youre looking at a small levy of between500and1,100.In most cases, booking two to three days in advance is sufficient.

Once youve got the pocket wifi router, sometimes called a wifi egg, in your cheapo paws, you just switch it on, connect to it from your devices (youll have been given the password) and boomyou have the interwebs at your disposal. Just before you leave Japan, you either return the router in the prepaid envelope provided (just pop it into a postbox), or drop it off at the airportdifferent providers have different requests.

There are more than 30 companies that provide wifi router rental in Japan, with variations in data allowances, connectivity speeds, coverage, customer service and rental periods. Most of Japans pocket wifi routers use 4G or 4G LTE and can be rented for the number of days youll need one for, e.g. 3, 7, 14 or 30+ days. You can often combine the router with another device, e.g. a power bankwhich is handy if youre doing a lot of sightseeing.

Our general advice is toget the fastest speed possible and opt for lots of, or unlimited, data(note that many plans have daily data caps after which speeds are temporarily reduced). After all, youre going to be uploading loads ofpicsand footage of your fabulous adventures in Japanland to make your friends jealousand you dont want to get throttled in these noble endeavors. We may be cheapskates, but we believe in decent internet.

To make the choice easier for you, weve compared the different Japan wifi rental providers (we made a spreadsheet and everything, but well spare you the gory details) and present what we reckon are the top choices below. Its by no means an exhaustive list, but we hope its helpful.

To work out the router plans that have the best value, we looked at pricing for five days, plus speed and data allowances, as well as English-language customer support. We used similar criteria across the categories below.

So, whats the best pocket wifi in Japan? At the top of our rankings is theNinja Wifi Unlimited Plan router, a pocket device that provides download speeds of up to 187.5 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 37.5 Mbpsmore than fast enough for doing most things. The router runs on the SoftBank network, using 4G and 4G LTE technology. Data is a pretty decent 3GB/day; when thats used up, speeds may be slowed temporarily.

The base rental rate for a Ninja Wifi Unlimited Plan, with tax, is990per day, butcheapo readers get a 30% discount,meaning that a five-day rental will cost you just3,465. (Note: The discount isapplied automaticallywhen youorder through our special link.) You can pick up and drop off your device for free at the airportboth Narita, Haneda and other major Japanese airports are covered. Also, you can get medical insurance and translation devices as an add-on, which is neat.

For travelers who dont need much data:There is also a 1GB/day plan, which is a bit cheaper. With the discount applied, it costs616per day, working out to1,848for three days or3,080for five, without any add-ons. Youll find the 1GB/day rental option next to the Unlimited Plan on the Ninja Wifi order form.

Same-day order and pick-up:If you are unsure of your travel plans, you can order your Ninja Wifi router and collect it on the same day. If you use the QR code in the advert above, you will still qualify for the 30% discount, but the cost will be between9001,200, plus tax, per day, and only the Unlimited Plan will be available. This service is offered at Haneda Airport in Tokyo (but not Narita), Kansai International Airport, Chubu Centrair International Airport, Fukuoka Airport, New Chitose Airport, and for Shinjuku pick-ups, too. Note, though, that disruptions caused byCOVID-19may limit your pick-up options.

Another contenderthanks to its speedsis CD Japan, where you can get, among other options, a CloudAir pocket wifi router that gives you download speeds of up to 150Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50Mbps. Data is unlimited, but should you use more than 150GB in a month, speeds will be reduced for a period. Rates start at3,650for five days (the minimum rental period), going up to11,100for 30. Thereafter, rates drop. Note that insurance, as with most other rental wifi routers in Japan, is extra, and there is a delivery fee of540.

In this category, we looked at which companies offer the most gigabytes for your buck.

If youre planning to burn through atonof data, you might consider a rental wifi router from Japan Wireless. Their Business Wifi plan gives you download speeds of up to 95Mbps and theoretically unlimited data on the SoftBank network. Rates start at2,728for two days and climb to14,047for a month-long rental. There is also a Premium Wifi option that has download speeds of up to 187 Mbps, but is a few hundred yen more. Delivery is550and you get an extra mobile battery for free.

Another good option is actually the previously mentionedNinja Wifi. Although their website states that there is a fair-usage policy for high data use, its not necessarily always enforced in practice.

The aforementioned CD Japan, as well as rental wifi from a company called Global Advanced Communications (whose fair usage policy is 5GB/day), are also potential picks for unlimited pocket wifi in Japan for travel purposes.

Here, we have considered the needs of travelers coming to Japan for upwards of 30 days. If youre planning to be here for a month or more, these are some of your best options when it comes to portable wifi.

If youre going to be in Japan for more than a month, the SoftBank 303ZT Unlimited Plan from Wi-FiRental.com is worth considering. Priced at6,050/month (inclusive of tax), the package provides 3GB of data per day (or 90GB/month) at maximum download speeds of 187.5Mbps. The minimum rental period is one month, and there are no complicated contracts to worry about. So if you need a router for just 2-3 months, its easy.

Bonus:Tokyo Cheapo readers get a discount of500per month bysigning up using our special partner link. That means youll pay5,500/month, inclusive of tax.

A hugely popular name in the Japan SIM game,Mobalalso have a long-term wifi offering. For4,980/month, you get 100GB of data, with maximum download speeds of 150Mbps. The minimum contract period is three months, so this is best suited to exchange students, longer business trips and the like.

One thing to note is that you need to pay for the wifi router upfront (6,980), but its yours to keep once the contract is up. A cool thing about Mobal is that the majority of their profits go to charity.

For stays over 90 days,Sakura Mobile pocket wifiis also worth a look. They offer a rolling month-to-month contract with various plans, including a 30GB (5,478)/month deal. There is a once-off5,500activation fee on all of their plans.

The SoftBank Pocket WiFi 501HW from Kyushu Wifi Rental (despite the name, they operate countrywide) is another viable option, giving you 100GB of data on the SoftBank LTE network at download speeds of up to 187.5Mbps and uploads of up to 37.5Mbps. Basic fees are capped at9,570for a month. Round-trip postage costs1,100. If you rent for 4-6 months, rates drop. The website, however, does require some Japanese-language skills.

Read our full guide to long-term mobile wifi in Japan.

For this category, we looked at plans that are good value for stays of just 2-3 days.

If youre making a super short trip, theNinja Wifi routeris a great choiceyoure looking at2,079for three days, thanks to our specially negotiated cheapo discount.

Getting one of the Kyushu Wifi Rental routers might be another economical option. Their SoftBank Pocket WiFi 501HW costs about528per day (but dont forget to add in the postage fees of1,100). There are also slower and capped packages, which could work out a bit cheaper, so check them out.

You simply pop your rental wifi router, in the envelope provided, into the postbox at the airport (or elsewhere) before you leave Japan.Photo by Carey Finn

Quick summary of the best pocket wifi router rentals in Japan

Kyushu Wifi Rental SoftBank Pocket WiFi 501HW

Note:This is a round-up of the Japan wifi rentals mentioned in the article; a number of different wifi packages are available through each provider, with different prices, speeds and conditions. Prices tend to decrease with the length of the trip; longer rentals generally get better rates.

It depends what you are looking for in terms of data, speed and rental period, but theNinja Wifi Unlimited Plan routeris one of the best deals for short-term stays in Japan, in our books.

Most rental wifi routers in Japan run on 4G or 4G LTE, with good coverage across the country (even onMount Fuji).

Yes. You get more data and faster connectivity speeds than you would with aSIM card, generally speaking. You can also connect multiple devices, like your phone, smartwatch, laptop and tablet, to a single rental wifi router.

It depends on your budget and needs (e.g. will you need aJapanese phone numberfor your stay?). We usually recommend both a wifi router and SIM, for maximum connectivity, but if you can only choose one, and you need lots of data for lots of devices, a pocket wifi router might better meet your travel needs.

Insurance is optional when you rent a wifi router in Japan, but be sensible and go for at least a basic planit will set you back maybe5003,000in total, but will save you potentially zillions in stress reduction. The last thing you want is a router return nightmare just before you board your flight!

The short answer? Um, yessort of. While there are an increasing number of free wifi hotspots in Japan, there are still (we think, anyway) nowhere near as many as there should be, and sometimes connecting can be tricky. Its not advisable to rely exclusively on free wifi while traveling around Tokyo and the rest of the countryunless youre cool with an enforced digital detox. Read more aboutconnecting to the internet in Japan.

Worried that someone may hack into your Japan wifi egg and pinch your personal data? Cyber security is a valid concern in this day and age, but pocket wifi is generally secure, as your connection is privatebetween your pocket router and the device you are using it with, e.g. your cell phone or laptop.

Note:Public wifiis neither private nor secure. You canuse a VPNto keep your browsing safe.

If youre hoping to get delivery of a pocket wifi device before you leave for Japan, the answer is no. If you want to take a device with you on your flight to Japan, youll need to find a service that provides this in your home country. Alternatively, you couldorder a Japan travel SIM from Mobal, which provides delivery around the globe.

Each of the providers uses different devices, so the exact battery usage time varies. However, for most devices, the quoted continuous usage time for a fully-charged device is 9 to 11 hours. If youre out and about and just browsing Google Maps, your pocket wifi should easily last all day.

If you happen to be planning a UK trip too, or you just want to weep at how pricey pocket wifi in Japan is compared to the UK, check out our London Cheapo Guide tothe best UK mobile broadband providers.

While we do our best to ensure the information here is correct, it is subject to change. Note that exceeding data limits could, in addition to seeing speeds slow, result in a temporary suspension of service. Check all prices and T&Cs carefully with the provider before ordering your pocket wifi router. Post regularly updated. Last update: June 5, 2022.

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