Preparing for your trip to Japan: The pocket wifi

The idea of being constantly connected to the Internet becomes very attractive while travelling to Japan. Not having at the time a unlocked phone, I decide to opt for a wifi pocket for ease of use.

What is a wifi pocket ?

A wifi pocket is a small electronic box that will turn into a wifi terminal. When you have it with you, you are entitled to a personal, secure and high-speed wifi channel. So rather very practical because it allows you to be constantly connected to the Internet. You can visit for more about pokcet wifi.

How do I use it?

On a wifi pocket you can connect several devices. For example last November, Chacha and I had our two smartphones connected on the wifi pocket. I also had the tablet that my "roommate" lent me, as well as my laptop that I use for work. I know very well that it is possible to do without it. But when you've experienced the comfort of being constantly connected to the internet, it's really hard to do without it, especially when you're travelling. The first use I make of the pocket wifi is mainly to help me with transportation, thanks to it I have constant access to the Japan official travel app and I can constantly know which is the next train or bus I have to take to get to my next destination. Also when I finish a tour early I can look for things to do around here. For example, when I was in Miyagi Prefecture I returned much earlier to the city of Sendai where I spent the night. On the train I was able to look at the sights on Sendai and I finally visited the temple Zuihōden which I had absolutely not planned. It also allows me to find restaurants around me as well as shops (100 yens shop, konbini, sento...), and to find my way around more easily thanks to wifi and GPS. I have, if necessary, access to google trad, it allows me to translate some of the panels or menus, entirely in Japanese. I also use it a lot to make stories on instagram (a bit too much it seems...) or to stay active on social networks. It's thanks to that that you've had the super exciting adventures of Suutsu-chan, my pink suitcase. As well as to contact my family, for some reason I had to be easily reachable by Skype at any time of the day. Same for friends on the spot via Line for example. I finally became so used to having wifi permanently, that I often put the wifi pocket to charge once I arrived at the hostel and leave directly in the neighborhood forgetting to take it with me. And a little moment of anguish when I realized at the end of two or three streets that I didn't have wifi and that I hadn't paid any attention to the road I had taken.

Order and get a wifi pocket?

It's very easy. All you have to do is book your wifi pocket online. You indicate the start date of the rental and the end date (i.e. you can book at least 5 days in advance). You then choose where you want to pick it up, at your accommodation or at the airport. The simplest is still the airport to have it directly at your arrival. Once at the airport you just have to go to the post office counter and show your passport and indicate that you have a package in your name. You will then be given a large cardboard envelope containing your wifi pocket. It comes with a user manual, a Japanese charger, a cover to store it and a pre-filled envelope that you will use for the return trip. Then it's as silly as cabbage, you turn on your pocket wifi. On the back of it is a label with the name of your network and the password that corresponds to it. Just connect your smartphone or any other device and off you go. For the return nothing could be simpler, simply put the wifi pocket and its accessories back in the famous pre-filled envelope and slip it into a mailbox. You can even do this at the airport before going through the security gates. It's really very simple.

Does it work well?

The wifi pocket is a small box that you will be able to slip into a pocket of your bag and where there will be no need to move it normally. You will have no reason to take it out, except to recharge it if needed. A wifi pocket has an autonomy for a small day (8 hours), so you may need to recharge it on an external battery around 4pm or 5pm. On the other hand the pocket wifi can have its weaknesses, especially regarding network coverage. If in the cities all goes well, you have all your bars and get wifi broadband. As soon as you go deeper into the countryside it becomes more complicated. It happened to us to find ourselves in really really really lost areas and to have no Internet at all, the wifi pocket indicating HS as regards the network. For example when we were in the middle of Kyushu or in some places on Shikoku. And that can become problematic because it's really the kind of place where you'd really need internet, even if only for the signs or bus schedules entirely in Japanese (well, don't panic, when the bus schedules are only in Japanese, you're really in the deep countryside). But since Keikaku informed me that I changed operator and the network is much more efficient.

So in the end?

The positive points of the wifi pocket are a great ease of use, you can use it with any electronic device that needs to connect to the Internet (computer, tablet, portable console, etc...). It is also ideal if you travel in a group or family. Everyone can enjoy a fast Wifi connection. We've made in spite of ourselves the test of a Sim card for 4, well it's not very practical. The connection sharing jumped regularly and we quickly looked like a bunch of junkies: "Pssst you have wifi? Go ahead and spin it..." The negative points are indeed the network coverage which can sometimes be a little weak and in this case we are very annoyed. Like when we ended up at the police station with Chacha because I'd lost my camera, we were in Ozu, a small town in Shikoku, and absolutely no internet to exchange with the police. Luckily one of the policewomen used her own phone to be able to exchange with us more easily. You can also be afraid of losing it or breaking it. But there's really no reason, knowing that it's normally in your bag all the time and comes with a protective pouch. The next time I go to Japan I don't know if I'll take back a wifi pocket. Knowing that I travel alone anyway, I'll turn to the cheaper Sim card instead. Especially since now I don't have a simlocked phone with an operator. It's a little more restrictive but the coverage looks a little better and as a priori I think I'll continue to sink into the small countryside and deep in the mountains it may be more sensible for me.
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