The JapanWifiBuddy Blog




Narita Airport Pocket Wifi Router and Sim Card Options Compared

 Narita Tokyo Tower

Bringing in a massive 50% of Japan's international travel, Narita Airport has established itself as one of the prime gateways to Japan. Being located about 60 kilometers east of Tokyo, it offers international travelers access to the heart of Japan. In fact, the majority of our clients coming into Japan end up coming through one of Narita's 3 Terminals! Though the airport is located outside the city, in Chiba prefecture’s countryside, the majority of travelers end up going to Tokyo, with many continuing on to Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Sendai or any of the various other majestic areas of Japan. 

Since everyone has different budgets, goals, needs and expectations for their trips to Japan, we will lay out the various options available for those coming into Japan through Narita to stay online during their time in Japan. There are various Pocket Wifi and Sim Card options available, as well as rental phones, but we've done the research for you to make it simple! 

What you'll find in this guide:

 

  • Do I even need to arrange wifi in Japan? 
  • What features do I need when looking at the options?
  • Strengths and Weaknesses of Pocket Wifi Rentals
  • Strengths and Weaknesses of Sim Cards Rentals
  • A Note about “Unlimited” Data Plans
  • A Note about Rental Phones / “How can I call my family?”
  • Comparison of your wireless options at Narita Airport
  • Where can I pick up my wireless devices at Narita? 

 

Do I need to Arrange Wifi in Japan?

Contrary to the expectation of Japan being super high-tech, there’s surprisingly little easily-accessible, secure and easy-to-use wifi in Japan! The number of cafes and stations that are now offering it is increasing, but you generally have to download an app, agree to some Terms of Service in Japanese, buy something to gain access to the network, or the range is very limited or data slow. The convenience and safety of having your own private network that you carry around with you wherever you go more than pays for itself! 

 Wimax2+ is one of the growing networks in Japan.

 

What Features do I need When Looking at Wifi Options?

 All of the research and searching can be stressful. But the main features to look for when comparing plans or options are:

 

  • Data Limits - Do you mind a slow connection, or do you want to be on the fast track the whole time you’re here? There are a wide variety of options available. In most pocket wifi plans, once you’ve exceeded the stated data allowance, you’ll be “throttled”, which means that your data speed will drop from LTE-speed to 3G-speed, which is drastically slower. For most sim card plans, once you’ve exceeded the data allowance, the plan is completed and you’re “stuck”. 
  • Pickup and Delivery - Can the unit be delivered to your arrival hotel/AirBNB or airport, or is there only one place it can be picked up?
  • Coverage - Will the network attached to the pocket wifi or sim card provide coverage in the areas you want to travel to? Since Tokyo and Osaka are the major metropolitan areas of the country, every wireless carrier starts by building up their infrastructure in these areas, then branches out. 
  • Pricing - Be aware of hidden fees, “contract establishment fees”, shipping fees, Data overage fees. Pay-as-you-go-plans may be more expensive per megabyte of data. 

 

Pocket Wifi Router Rentals in Japan - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Pros

-More flexible rental lengths than sim cards. Generally with sim cards you can only rent for 7,15,30-day periods, so you may end up paying “more” than you need to. 

-Easily connect any device that is equipped with wifi capabilities. It’s just like connecting at home or the office; Just find the network name and type in the password, and you’re good to go. 

-Supports multiple devices. Many wifi routers can handle up to 10 simultaneous connections. 

-More generous data allowances and higher download speeds. 

-Most pocket wifi devices in Japan can broadcast their wireless networks in a sphere of 3-10 meters. You can share a connection with friends even if you aren’t staying in the same hotel room. 

-Bring your own devices and keep them all online simultaneously. 

-Data allowances range from per-day, per-month to unlimited. 

 

Cons

-Larger than renting a sim card, and will need it’s own charger and cables. 

-For lighter individual users, usually sim cards end up being cheaper. 

-In many cases they require prior booking. 

 

Pocket wifi is just that- pop it in your pocket and stay online all day!

 

Sim Card Rentals in Japan - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

 

Pros

-No pre-planning required. You can even find them in vending machines nowadays. 

-Lightweight and small, so there’s nothing “extra” to carry around. 

-For light individual users, basic plans are more affordable than any pocket wifi options. 

-In most cases it becomes useless after it’s expiration date and then you can just throw it away. 

 

Cons 

-Limited options for rental lengths, such as 7,15,30-day rentals. 

-Compatibility errors abound between certain networks and devices. You’ll really need to do your homework to make sure everything will work correctly. 

-Set up isn’t very simple, and requires changing carrier profiles and settings. 

-Tethering multiple devices to one phone is an option in most cases, but this causes extra strain on the host device’s battery, and data speeds are slowed down further. Sometimes if the tethering mode “sleeps”, both the host and the client devices will need to reset their network settings. 

-So many options available that it may be hard to choose. 

 

A Note About “Unlimited” Data Plans

Many carriers claims to offer “unlimited” data plans. This can mean one of two things. 

  1. You will never run out of data, so you’ll never be stranded. This is true of every pocket wifi plan, but most of them have LTE-speed data allowances. When the states data limit is exceeded, the user is slowed down to 3G speeds, which are significantly slower. 
  2. There is truly unlimited LTE-speed data allowance. This is not very common yet in Japan, and only a couple of providers offer it. 

 

Option Number 2 is still not very common, and it’s very important that you confirm with your rental provider if there are any LTE-speed data limit cutoffs, also called "throttling"!

 

A Note About Rental Phones

Rental phones used to be a much more viable option for travelers coming to Japan. But in recent years, there are a few reasons they aren’t so useful anymore. 

Nowadays most travelers prefer to have their own customized mobile phones and tablets, with their own music, movies, settings and features accessible at any time. Rental phones don’t provide this luxury, and are often confusing to learn how to handle. 

Moreover, after a massive streak of scams run by groups who rented mobile phones, the Japanese police have really made the whole rental process much more stringent. Now, renters need to provide a lot more personal details, as well as identification so the government can trace them if they’re running scams! This hassle and the associated administration costs have made rental phones much more costly than the options mentioned above. 

 

“How can I call my family?”

There are various smartphone/tablet apps now available for making phone calls which require no “minutes”, long-distance charges or annoying calls into customer service. Apps such as Skype, LINE, Facetime, Google Hangouts and Facebook all offer videochat or phone calling options. In fact in Japan, most young people use LINE as their phone service now to avoid all the complex charges of calling other carriers or calling after-hours! 

I’ve lived in Japan for a long time now, and I primarily communicate with my family overseas using these apps and rarely have issues. And the best part is that they’re all free. 

 

Comparison of Your Wireless Options at Narita Airport

 

We’ve arranged two different charts based on the most common types of clients we serve. One chart is for high-data consumption, and one is for more moderate data consumption. This way we can combine both sim cards and pocket wifi devices into one chart. 

 

Heavy Data Users Picking up at Narita

 

7-Day rental example:

Company Plan Name Max Download Speed  Data Allowance before "Throttling"

Number of Device Connections

Battery Life Narita Office Hours Price Deposit Required? 
Air's Pocket Wifi 220 Mbps 10GB / 3-day-period 8 12 hrs 7:00 - 21:00

10,600 yen 

or

$94.61 USD

Yes
SoftBank / JAL ABC Pocket Wifi 7.2 Mbps No LTE 7 8 hrs 6:30 - 21:00

9,030 yen

or

$80.59 USD

No
Telecom Square Pocket Wifi 187.5 Mbps 10GB / 3-day-period 10 12 hrs 9:00-20:00

10,584 yen

or

$94.47 USD

No
Sakura Double Plan .2 Mbps 1.2GB / day 4 8 hrs 8:30 - 20:00

9.707 yen

or

$86.69 USD

No
Sakura 30GB Sim Card (Depends on Phone) 4.2GB / day (Depends on Phone) (Depends on Phone) 8:30 - 20:00

17,350 yen

or

$154.98 USD

No
Pupuru Pocket Wifi 220 Mbps 10GB / 3-day-period 8 12 hrs 8:30 - 20:00

8,228 yen

or

$73.52 USD 

No
eConnect Pocket Wifi 75 Mbps 1GB / day 10 8 hrs 8:30 - 20:00

6,717 yen

or

$59.99

No

 

JapanWifiBuddy Diamond Pocket Wifi 187.5 Mbps Truly Unlimited 8 14 hrs w/ free backup battery

Free: 8:30 - 20:00

Extended: 7:00-21:00

6,380 yen 

or

$56.99 USD

No

  

Moderate Data Users Picking up at Narita 

Wifi-to-Go LTE

 Company

Plan Name / Type

Max Download Speed

Data Allowance before "Throttling"  Number of Device Connections  Battery Life  Narita Office Hours  Price  Deposit Required? 
 eConnect Wifi-To-Go LTE  56 Mbps  1GB/day  5  8 hrs  9:00 - 20:00

 5779 yen

or

$51.61 USD

 No
 Air's  Pocket Wifi  220 Mbps  10GB / 3-day-period  8  12 hrs  7:00 - 21:00

 10,600 yen

or

$94.61 USD

Yes 
 SoftBank/ JAlABC  Wifi Type  7.2 Mbps  No LTE  8  8 hrs  6:30-21:00

 9030 yen

or

$80.59 USD

 No 
Telcom Square City Type- Pocket Wifi  187.5 Mbps  10GB/ 3-day period  10  12 hrs  9:00-20:00

 10,584yen

or

$94.47 USD

 No
 Sakura  SIM  (Depends on your phone)  1.4GB/Day  1  (Same as your phone)  8:00-20:00

 8517yen

or

$73.52 USD

 No
 Pupuru Pocket Wifi  220 Mbps  10GB/ 3-day period 12 hrs   8:30-20:00

 8228 yen

or

$73.52 USD

 No
 JapanWifiBuddy  Platinum- Pocket Wifi  220 Mbps  10GB/ 3-day period  8  14 hrs w/ free backup battery

 Free: 8:30-20:00

Extended Hours: 7:00-21:00

4918 yen

or

$43.99 

 No
                 

 

As you can see from the comparison tables above, we’ve done our best at JapanWifiBuddy to provide the most powerful models for prices that the competition just can’t match. We’ve served thousands of travelers to Japan so far, and we’re looking forward to serving you soon!

Where Can I Pick Up My WifiBuddy at Narita?   

We offer pickup locations at each of the Narita Terminals. For the standard free shipping, there are Post Offices that we partner with in Narita Terminal 1 and 2, but we also work with some other shipping offices to provide even longer service hours if you will be arriving earlier or later in the day as well. Once your order is completed, we will send you the correct map indicating where you should go for your pickup after arrival. 

Narita 1's Post Office

Narita Terminal 1 Post Office Access Map

Narita 2's Post Office

Narita Terminal 2 Post Office Access Map

Narita 1's Extended Hours Shipping Partner Offices

Narita Terminal 1 Shipping Partner Access Map

Narita 2's Extended Hours Shipping Partner Offices

Narita Terminal 2 Shipping Partner Access Map

 


Other bonuses that we offer:

-Free backup battery with every order.

-Free 5-day-shipping to your hotel, AirBNB, or arrival airport. 

-Unbeatable long-term pricing.

-Unbeatable group discount pricing.

-On-site chat available with English speaking customer service reps.

-Free return shipping envelope included in every package, so you can drop your WifiBuddy off for return at the mailbox right before getting back on your plane home! 

 

Looking forward to serving you soon!

The JapanWifiBuddy Team