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On internet access, SIM cards, data plans, mobile routers and WiFi in Tokyo

First of all, you will need to decide which of the following groups you belong to:

  1. I am a recovering mobile device addict and I want to be able to use the internet only for emergencies
  2. I am not good with directions and will need the internet particularly when navigating the subway or on the streets
  3. Internet is everything. If I could do a virtual tour of Japan I would have done so.

Now read the appropriate sections.

I am a recovering mobile device addict and I want to be able to use the internet only for emergencies

You could use any of the solutions in the next section, or you could head to the nearest internet / manga cafe to reply to an important business email. Keywords to look out for on the signboards are ネットカフェ (Net Cafe), インターネット (Internet), 漫画喫茶 (Manga-kissa or manga cafe). Most hotels and AirBnB accommodations also provide free internet services so do check if yours provide those.

A typical manga cafe with internet service.

I am not good with directions and will need the internet particularly when navigating the subway or on the streets

You have a few solutions.

  • During emergencies you could look for the nearest Starbucks and use this guide to get free WiFi access.
  • Tokyo Metro stations also have free WiFi access (Toei Subway too) and there is bound to be a subway station within walking distance from where you are.
  • JAL passenger can also get 14 days free Wi-Fi using these instructions.
  • Convenience stores such as Lawson, FamilyMart and 7-eleven also have free Wi-Fi services (Lawson is the only one with English instructions).
  • There is also a free service by NTT called Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi app which you can read about here. This solution integrates the various free Wi-Fi such as the JR-EAST and subway free WiFis.

Do note that most of these (apart from the Tokyo Metro solution) require some activation process in advance, so do read through the instructions before coming over.

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