Best Pocket Wifi in Japan: Pupuru Wifi Review
So here goes my review of Pupuru Pocket Wifi since a number of people have been asking me on how to stay connected in Japan when on the road. If you are looking for the best pocket wifi rental in Japan, you should seriously consider getting Pupuru Pocket Wifi. I’ve used Pupuru myself in my past 5 trips to Japan and I strongly recommend them for their consistent reliable service and blazing fast “only in Japan” wifi internet speeds. 🙂
What is a Pocket Wifi and Why Rent One in Japan?
For those who are so used to mobile data connection, a pocket wifi is a small portable wifi router which can provide wifi connection up to 10 devices while you are on the go. Prepaid sim cards are heavily regulated in Japan and it is not easy to get one straight from the stores. If you don’t want to be charged exorbitant global roaming data fees, you may want to consider renting a pocket wifi for the duration of your Japan trip. I suggest that you book your Japan pocket wifi rental online at least 1 to 2 weeks in advance to ensure availability. If you will be visiting Japan during spring or autumn peak season, it maybe wise to book months ahead to secure your pocket wifi rental.
Before I share my Pupuru Pocket Wifi experience, let me tell you 5 reasons why a mobile internet connection in Japan is a “necessity” rather than a “want” for tourists. Of course, a pocket wifi connection will enable you to do a live tweet that you have just been awe-struck by Mount Fuji! But the benefits of having a pocket wifi in Japan goes way beyond that.
5 Reasons Why You Need a Pocket Wifi in Japan
1. Free wifi is not everywhere. Being a country known for ultra fast internet connections, everyone has high expectations of Japan thinking that free wifi can be accessed everywhere. But the reality is that free public wifi is not widely available unless you intentionally go to a major train station or drop by a 7-11. While it is undeniable that public wifi hotspots have increased in the past 5 years, these free public wifi hotspots in Japan can hardly be relied on when you need it the most.
When I went back to Kyoto recently, I tried to access the free Kyoto Public Wifi Hotspot right in the middle of downtown at the intersection of Kawaramachi and Shijo avenues (Kyoto’s equivalent of Ginza’s shopping strip). To my disappointment, I was unable to access Kyoto’s public wifi hotspot even after trying hard to register many times. After 30 minutes, I gave up and went back to my tried and tested Pupuru Pocket Wifi.
This accessibility issue on free wifi hotspot seems to be a problem not only in Kyoto. When I tried connecting to free public wifi hotspot while in Asakusa, a major tourist area in Tokyo, I was able to access it but the public wifi was very slow making it unusable.
2. Lack of street names and signs. The address system in Japan is different from other countries and most often, only main avenues have street names. Addresses in Japan are in a combination of district numbers, block numbers and building numbers which any foreigner will find to be very confusing. I can still vividly remember a time a when I made a wrong turn in a Kyoto back alley and ended up getting lost for an hour. I got lost in a quiet residential neighborhood in a freezing cold evening, with dark alleys, no foot traffic, no street signs, no wifi and no google maps access. My ordeal could have been different had I had an access to wifi. I learned the “need” for a pocket wifi during my first trip to Japan the hard way.
3. No offline download of google maps in Japan. A few days prior to my Tokyo trip, I was preparing the travel apps on my phone when I realized that Google doesn’t allow offline maps in Japan. This appears to be a local restriction in Japan as I haven’t encountered any problems downloading offline google maps for other countries where I’ve travelled to before.
4. Prohibitively expensive taxi fares. A 30 minute cab ride in Japan can easily cost you between USD 50 to USD 60. I would rather use this money to fund a week of pocket wifi rental, use my google maps and find my way to the nearest train station to commute from point A to B.
5. Highly complex train stations and rail systems. Taking a train in major stations like Tokyo and Shinjuku will require advance planning. Imagine, each of these major stations have more than 30 rail and metro platforms! Sometimes your itinerary will not go as planned so you have to be prepared to re-adjust your train commuting plans while on the go. Having an online access to hyperdia on your mobile will help you pinpoint the fastest train route just when you need it.
Pupuru Pocket Wifi Japan
There are a number of pocket wifi rental companies in Japan and my google search led me to 3 different providers with reasonable prices – Pupuru, Global Advanced Communications (GAC) and wifi-hire. All of these providers rent out high-speed unlimited pocket wifis within similar price range of about USD 70 for 1 week of rental or just about USD 10 per day. If you will be in Japan for less than a week, the pocket wifi rental fee will definitely cost less.
Here are the reasons why I chose to rent a pocket wifi from Pupuru:
1. Extensive Coverage. I availed the Au broad-coverage 75 mbps unlimited pocket wifi rental from Pupuru and was very happy with its extensive coverage. During my trip to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Lake Kawaguchi, Hakone and suburb areas surrounding Mount Fuji, I was able to get wifi connection 99% of the time from my Pupuru pocket wifi. The only time that the wifi connection went down was during the 30-minute Lake Ashi pirate ship cruise in Hakone. However, this is highly understandable since the lake is surrounded by mountain ranges and the downtime only lasted for 30 minutes.
2. Extra Long Battery Life. Based on my personal experience on 5 separate occasions, my Pupuru pocket wifi really lasted for 9 to 12 hours as advertised! You have to be aware that not all pocket devices are created equal. Other pocket wifi rental providers in Japan offer 21 mbps pocket wifi for a cheaper price. The 21 mbps internet connection speed is actually sufficient but the battery life of these pocket wifi variants only last for half day and it can only be connected up to 5 devices.
3. High Availability of Pocket Wifi Units. My initial choices were a toss between GAC and Pupuru since both provide similar services with almost same prices. It is no doubt that GAC is more popular. However, when I tried to book for a pocket wifi unit from GAC’s website, I was informed a day after I submitted my booking that their pocket wifi is out of stock for my travel dates. So I went to book with Pupuru’s website and it went without a hitch. Since then, I always book with Pupuru and they always have stock even if I head to Japan during super peak seasons most of the time.
4. Highly Consistent Reliable Service. I’ve been a loyal user of Pupuru and have used their service in my past 5 trips to Japan. Their service in the past 5 years has been very consistent. I never had any problems with internet connection and I’ve always received my pocket wifi on time. I’m extremely happy with Pupuru’s Au unlimited pocket wifi and I can say that it’s better than hotel wifi – more reliable and generally with faster internet speeds. Trust me and you can try it for yourself! 🙂
5. Unlimited Wifi. Pupuru used to offer a cheaper pocket wifi variant called e-mobile but with a 10gb monthly usage cap. However, after trying their Au pocket wifi variant, I can say that their Au unlimited pocket wifi is way better in value! For just USD 3 per day more compared to e-mobile, I was able to do the following things:
- Upload and organize thousands of my travel photos online while in Japan in a matter of minutes. I always struggle to upload my travel photos and videos back home and it takes me up to a week to upload 2,000 to 4,000 photos. With 25mbps upload speed of Pupuru, it’s amazing to see that I’m able to literally upload tons of photos and videos in a span of minutes!
- Make video calls on Skype whenever and wherever I want.
- Access wifi even in rural areas like Lake Kawaguchiko near Mount Fuji and Uji in Kyoto suburb. Au offers one of the best wifi coverage in Japan. So even if you don’t have rural areas in your itinerary, I still suggest that you book Au unlimited pocket wifi just in case you make that spontaneous day trip to explore the beauty of Japan’s suburbs! Who knows? 🙂
6. Easy Delivery and Return. What’s good about Pupuru is they include a prepaid envelope so you don’t need to worry about the return process.
I have used Pupuru’s service 5x and had my pocket wifi sent to different hotels and different airport counters on separate occasions. So far, my rented pocket wifi from Pupuru had always arrived ahead of me ready for my pick up. For hotel deliveries, I just pick it up from the front desk upon check-in. You have to email the hotel in advance that you are expecting a package. The hotels will be happy to receive your pocket wifi package for you as long as the recipient name matches with the guest name in your hotel booking and the rental has been pre-paid online.
The return process of Pupuru is likewise very easy since a prepaid courier envelope is sent together with the pocket wifi package. I just zipped up the pocket wifi and its accessories back in the black pouch after use, sealed it in the provided orange prepaid courier envelope and left it to the hotel concierge for mail back to Pupuru. See, the return process is as easy as 1-2-3 but make sure you return the the rented pocket wifi while you are in Japan.
Will I use Pupuru Pocket Wifi again when I return to Japan?
Definitely, yes! I have used Pupuru 5x and would not hesitate to avail their services again in the future. Pupuru has proven to be a a very reliable pocket wifi rental provider with customer service willing to go the extra mile based on my first hand account experience. My USD 70 Pupuru unlimited pocket wifi rental for a week delivered more than what its worth – a great peace of mind knowing that I have a functioning google maps to save me in case I get lost!
Pupuru is highly recommended by Asiatravelbug as a pocket wifi rental provider in Japan. Make sure to book one before you go!
What Others Say About Pupuru Pocket Wifi Rental Japan
Some Asiatravelbug readers have returned from their vacation in Japan and had a great time. Here’s what they have to say about Pupuru based on their actual experience. Thank you readers for trusting Asiatravelbug’s Japan travel tips! 🙂
So how do I book a Pupuru Pocket Wifi rental?
The booking process is easy. Reservation and payment can be done online. It is recommended that you book at least 1 to 2 weeks in advance to ensure availability of pocket wifi units. If you will be going to Japan during spring or autumn peak season, it maybe wise to book months in advance to secure your pocket wifi rental.
You can book your Pupuru Au broad-coverage pocket wifi rental here.
Other Japan Travel Tips:
- Heading to Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka and unsure where to stay? Don’t worry! Check out Asiatravelbug’s Where to Stay in Tokyo, Where to Stay in Kyoto and Where to Stay in Osaka guides.
- No Tokyo itinerary yet? No problem, we’ve done all the grunt research work for you! Check out Asiatravelbug’s Tokyo Itinerary travel blog.
- Want to see Mount Fuji? Mount Fuji only shows up 80 days a year! Increase your chances of seeing Mount Fuji by checking out our How to See Mount Fuji blog. Other readers have reported to see Mount Fuji following Asiatravelbug’s guide. 🙂
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