Staying connected to the rest of the world while traveling can be a difficult task. This is especially true when traveling in Japan. Public WiFi networks are not that easily accessible unless you want to spend 600 yen on a coffee at Starbucks to use their WiFi. Compared to other developed countries Japan is quite far behind in terms of providing public networks. Unlike other countries you cannot buy a pre-paid SIM card for your phone either. You have to be a resident to get a phone contract. There is the option of buying a phone card and making calls from public phones; however, this can be a bit of an inconvenience. This does not leave one with many options and this experience can be a little frustrating.
Luckily there is a viable solution to this conundrum. The Pocket WiFi from eMobile Japan is a great little device that provides its own network, allowing you to connect to the World Wide Web from just about anywhere. It is about the size of an iPhone and light to carry. The beauty of this device is that it can connect to any WiFi enabled device. This means you can use your overseas WiFi enabled smartphone or iPad to stay connected. Telephone calls can easily be made via Skype if you have an account. What’s more is that multiple devices can connect to Pocket WiFi at the same time. I like to connect both my cell phone and my laptop to the WiFi. This allows me to use direct messaging on my phone to my friends back home and the internet on my laptop. The battery life of Pocket WiFi is pretty decent too; it can easily last up to six hours without recharging. However, I wouldn’t leave it on the whole day unless I had the charger with me.
Surfing the web with Pocket WiFi has been an enjoyable experience, I have yet to experience slow internet speed. The only time I had issues connecting to the web was from the basement floor of a shopping centre which is understandable. Pocket WiFi uses both LTE and 3G networks. Using this device does not require any installation process. It is as simple as switching on the device and connecting to the internet.
Pocket WiFi can be rented from Wifi-Hire.com for decent rates. You can either pick up the device from the WiFi-Hire offices in Higashi-Shinjuku or you can have it delivered to your address for free. Perhaps the most convenient aspect of renting from Wifi-Hire.com is that you can apply from outside of Japan. The device will then be delivered to your Japanese address at your convenience. The rental periods are great, allowing you to rent the device from between five and forty-five days. Rental prices start from as little as 4980 yen for the five-day contract, and go up to 12,800 yen for the forty-five day contract. You can also extend your contract should you wish to and long-term contracts are available. The device will be fully charged and ready to use as soon as you receive it. This is by far the best solution I have found while traveling in Japan.
This article was written in June 2013, therefore the prices and services, while accurate at the time of publication, may differ slightly to that currently offered by WiFi-Hire.com. For the latest information, please refer to their website.