Don't be in the dark without Wi-Fi in Japan (Photo: Bonson Lam / JT)
Don't be in the dark without Wi-Fi in Japan (Photo: Bonson Lam / JT)
- 4 min read

Free Wi-Fi at Kyoto

The guide for Starbucks and Tully's Coffee hotspots

Struggling with no cell service and data in Japan? Traveling in Kyoto, and finding it more challenging to scour around for free Wi-Fi than it is in Tokyo or Osaka, the bigger cities? Fear not, this article is a guide to living on free Wi-Fi in Kyoto. As someone who is spending over two months in Kyoto without cell phone service and cell phone data, I understand the struggle.

For free Wi-Fi, I would recommend visiting a Starbucks. However, Starbucks cafés are not as frequently located in neighbourhoods in Kyoto as they may be in other cities. Therefore, it is a good idea to map out a few of the locations situated in popular tourist destinations. You can save them on Google Maps, so that even when you do not have Wi-Fi, you will be able to see where they are located.

Kyoto Station

There are two conveniently placed Starbucks stores near Kyoto Station, the bumbling and bustling tourist central. One of the stores is located in Porta, the underground shopping center filled with restaurants and clothing stores. The other is directly across and opposite Kyoto Station and is right below the Kyoto Tower Hotel and Kyoto Tower Building. If you are planning to travel around Kyoto through Kyoto Station (JR Line, Kintetsu Line, Subway lines, etc.), these two spots are perfect for any last-minute planning and travel inquiries you may need to search up before embarking.

Downtown Kyoto, Gion and Sanjo

When in Kyoto, a visit and stroll around Gion and Sanjo, the Geisha District, and downtown Kyoto area respectively, is a must. There are two Starbucks chains near the stations Gion-Shijo and Sanjo Station, and both stations serve the Keihan Railway. Gion and Sanjo may also be reached using the Hankyu line, Karasuma line, and by the Kyoto city bus. The Starbucks in Gion is about an eight-minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station and is right by the shrine in the heart of Gion, Yasaka-Jinja. The Starbucks in Sanjo is located on Sanjo-Dori, or Sanjo Street across the river and bridge and less than a five-minute walk away from the Keihan Sanjo Station. These two locations serve as ideal spots for a cool-down and rest from the hot summer's day in the busy downtown district that is always filled with businessmen, shoppers, and as always, tourists.

Starbuck Services

Be sure to try one of the seasonal drinks offered! Past drinks have included melon-flavored, mango-flavored, and crushed-orange-flavored Frappuccinos.

All of the Starbucks locations offer free Wi-Fi using the same service, so you will have no trouble signing in to them. You simply need to connect via a social network like Facebook or LINE, and you're set. Most locations will also offer tables with charging ports attached. You may even want to pick up one of the Kyoto Tumblers sold, as a souvenir or gift for someone, or even just for your own enjoyment! Special drinks and snacks limited to the Starbucks chains in Japan are also offered. Some Japanese specialties include a Matcha-espresso cake (that comes with two shortcake cookies and a small cup of iced coffee for roughly ¥400), and a 12-veggie wrap with a creamy, lemon sauce.

To summarize, if you are worried about data-roaming fees, and you are only spending a few days in Kyoto, making the rental of a Pocket-Wifi not so cost-efficient, do not worry - it is possible to find free Wi-Fi in Kyoto! Kyoto also offers city-wide free Wi-Fi, but the connection sometimes falters, whereas the Wi-Fi at coffee shops is significantly more reliable and stable.

If Starbucks is not your cup of tea or coffee, you can also look up "Tully's Coffee" locations - the chain café locations also offer free Wi-Fi, though I personally have found that the Starbucks locations are more conveniently located than Tully's Coffee.

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