By Sam Hardwick
Japan is a peculiar place. Given its technological advancement and being an electronic powerhouse, it's weird that Korea has more free Wi-Fi spots around the country than Japan. Even Singapore has a wider coverage even though it's just a tiny dot in the world map.
But fret not! Free Wi-Fi spots do exist!
The best place where I managed to sap hours of Wi-Fi is at Starbucks. However, for first time users, you need to:
- Register your email
- You will then get an email confirmation
- Verify yourself via your email address
- Ready to use the internet
Editor's Note: Starbucks Wi-Fi registration is vastly simplified since this article was written, so pre-registration is no longer essential.
However, there's a catch. Once the email confirmation is sent to your email address, you need to verify your email address before you are eligible to use the internet. But then, you can't get access to your email without internet access (because you need to verify first)! So what you can do is:
- Head back home, respond to the email verification and then get back to Starbucks to use the internet
- Ask a kind soul who is sitting next to you and ask if you can borrow their phone for awhile to confirm your email address.
Nonetheless, once you got this sorted out, you can practically get Wi-Fi anywhere. This is because the best thing about Starbucks is that its branches are located all around Tokyo. Almost every district or train station has one, providing convenience and accessibility to those who wander around the city constantly. It is also a place where you can take a break from all that touring, sit down and drink a cup of coffee (and update your friends and family about your travels in Japan via email, Facebook, Twitter etc)
The other good thing about Starbucks is that you can stay in Starbucks for ages. You can stay for an hour, two hours there isn`t any time limit (until it closes of course). In addition, the connection is good so you don`t need to worry about having your connection problems.
But if inactivity is not your thing, you can also get Wi-Fi on the go in major JR stations along the Yamanote Line. The stations where I did managed to get Wi-Fi were in Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Akihabara and Ueno. So while you`re waiting for a friend, do take your iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Nokia or whatever phone you got and tap on the free WiFi. Nonetheless, there are some stations without Wi-Fi such as Takadanobaba.
In addition, there are free Wi-Fi for use in Tokyo Metro stations as well. You can only have 5 slots a day, with a 15 minute time to which you can use. So in total, you get 1 hour and 15 min worth of Wi-Fi per day. Not so bad while you wait for your next train!
Still, the great thing about this is you can Line or Whatsapp your friends whom you`re meeting that you are already at the station. So they won't be worried if you are lost or something.
Lastly, there are some malls in Tokyo that do provide free Wi-Fi. However, you can only use it for a certain amount of time. After which, you will be out of the network. One of the malls that has free Wi-Fi is Roppongi Hills. They provide 30 minutes of usage but without the hassle of verifying your email.
So that`s it! If you know of any other places with Free WiFi, do let me know so we can share it with everyone. After all, information is to be shared right?
UPDATE: Family Mart does offer Free Wi-Fi too but the application process is entirely in Japanese. For more information, see here.
You can also get a 14 day free Wi-Fi card provided by NTT East by presenting your passport at selected NTT East Offices in Narita Airport, Akihabara and other major cities. Utilize the details presented in the card to access the internet in selected NTT East Wi-Fi spots around Tokyo.
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Experiences, Experiences Experiences! or if you like, Experencia, Experencia, Experencia! The only thing I seek for while traveling is to gain experiences. Why? Well, travelling provides us with the platform to learn, and the more people you meet, the more you understand the underbelly of the country. The more local food that you eat, the more you understand their culinary delights. The more time you spend in a country, the more you become a local. In the end, you learn and that`s what I`m seeking for. To learn and to grow, and to share it with you:)