Don’t Get Stuck Without Wi-Fi in Japan’s Old Capital Kyoto

In today’s globalized world, international travel is becoming more common as travel becomes cheaper and easier. With the boost in international travel, there is a growing need for easier access to free Internet access in popular tourist destinations around the world.

Nowadays, you can find that most cities and countries offer free Wi-Fi in public areas with a large amount of tourists, such as train and bus stations and airports. You can even find numerous Wi-Fi hotspots provided by local Internet Service Providers in areas such as cafes, restaurants and shopping centres.

While most of the developed world has jumped on board the public Wi-Fi train, Japan has always lagged behind its counterparts, such as the UK, Singapore and Lithuania. This may come as a shock to some, due to the fact that Japan has an image of being an insanely hi-tech nation filled with novel conveniences. In the past 6 years or so, cities across Japan with large influxes of tourist have begun to steadily roll out some public hotspots for international visitors due to the high demand.


Kyoto however, staying true to its traditional stereotype, had always been two steps behind these metropolitans, such as Tokyo, when it came down to modern services and accommodations, such as Wi-Fi and translations.

Luckily for foreign visitors, in recent years, Kyoto has joined its neighbours and started to offer free Wi-Fi hotspots in some areas with large amounts of tourist gathering.

Check out some of the places where you get access these free internet services in Japan!


Hotels:

Nearly all hotels and inns in Japan have some type of Internet access provided, though not all are free or personal. Most Japanese hotels do offer free Internet in the private guest rooms; however, you may find that there are a few higher end hotel chains that do in fact charge for private Internet access based on 24 hour periods.

In Japan, ryokan and other traditional Japanese accommodations, such as Minshuku, are extremely popular with both locals and foreigners alike. These traditional lodgings are more apt to offer Wi-Fi and computers to use in the lobby or public lounge areas, rather than in the personal rooms.


Kyoto Specific:

Kyoto is a very traditional city, with some of the buildings being centuries old. Some of the older hotels and inns might require you to install some special software to connect to their older Internet servers. This service reminds me much of the times of my childhood with dial up service… Oh the horror!


Free Wi-Fi:

Apps:

There are also a few apps that now grant you access to various hotspots across Japan.

Travel Japan Wi-Fi
This is a smartphone app that provides users with two weeks of free access to over 60,000 hotspots in Japan. Quite a sweet deal, I’d say!

Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi

Users can access over 100,000 free tourist hotspots with a single registration process. This means you don’t have to register every time you go to a different area!


Additional Ways to Connect:

Free Wi-Fi Passport from Softbank

Softbank, one of Japan’s largest telecommunication providers, has now begun to offer foreign tourists two free weeks of access to around 400,000 Softbank hotspots all across Japan, which includes restaurants, cafes, hotels and various stations.

How do you get this awesome service? You can register for it by calling (*8180) completely toll-free from a foreign cellphone, but you have to be connected to the Softbank network for it to work, so make sure to choose Softbank as the service provider in your phone settings. Additionally, another great point about this service is that is can be renewed when the two weeks are over.


Kyoto Specific:

When I first moved to Kyoto four years ago, the amount of public and free Wi-Fi services available were little to none. Now, due to the recent influx of foreign visitors, efforts have been made by major businesses and governments to offer free Wi-Fi services to foreign tourists. If you’re a domestic tourist, you are out of luck and must rely on your own providers.

Some of the most popular and best methods to access the Internet for free are listed below.

Around Kyoto City
Kyoto City has now begun to offer many free Wi-Fi networks all over the city for foreign tourists.

Some of the most popular are:

KYO Navi – You can access this network from the second floor of Kyoto Station downtown. It’s great when you need you need to check your GPS or are just shopping around the station.

KYOTO Wi-Fi – This is most likely the most widespread of all the free services offered in Kyoto. It is offered in all locations with “KYOTO Wi-Fi” stickers, including bus stops, certain convenience stores and various train stations. You can access the service for free for 24 hours and renew it for as long as you need.
*While the sign states 3 hours, it has been updated to 24 hours in recent years, though some areas will have you resign in when you move to a different location.

KYOTO-Porta – This is offered at the Porta shopping center in Kyoto Station.

Hankyu Wi-Fi – Hankyu Railways, one of the biggest railways in Kansai next to JR, now offers a free Wi-Fi service to visitors at their stations. The best part about this service is that you can still have signal even when you are underground in the subway tunnels.

Sanjo Meiten-gai Wi-Fi – Free service offered in the Sanjo shopping arcade. The network is “Sanjo1010” or “Sanjo1020”, and the password for the secured “Sanjo1010” is “sanjotori”.

Another free Wi-Fi network that most foreign visitors do not know about, due to it not being advertised as much as the others, is the Shijo Street Wi-Fi service. Shijo Street is a popular shopping district, with foreigners and locals alike. The service is only provided between Shijo Karasuma and Shijo Kawaramachi though. To access the network, choose the “Shijo-0123456789” network. The password for this service is “0123456789”. It has only recently begun to be more openly advertised. Due to this network not being known to many, the speeds are quite nice compared to some of the other free ones provided.


Now go and enjoy your free Wi-Fi! Happy travels!

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