Many cities in Japan (including Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto) and even some regions (like Shikoku) have free wi-fi networks for travellers, though the system is still clunky in areas. To avoid frustration, heavy users might consider hiring a pocket internet device.
Most accommodation now has wi-fi. Hostels and business chain hotels are the most reliable for this; other places might only have a solid connection in the lobby.
Getting Online in Japan
Wi-fi Hot Spots These include train and subway platforms, tourist sites and convenience stores – though signals are often weak. Look for the sticker that says 'Japan Wi-Fi'. Download the Japan Connected (www.ntt-bp.net/jcfw/en.html) app to avoid having to log in to individual networks; if you are unable to connect, try clearing your cache.
Pocket Wi-fi If you want the confidence that comes with a steady signal, portable wi-fi hubs that can connect to multiple devices are a good choice (especially for group travellers). Japan Wireless (http://japan-wireless.com) and Rentafone Japan (www.rentafonejapan.com) rent them out for around ¥5000/12,000 per week/month and can deliver to your hotel.
Boingo Subscribers to Boingo's global plan (www.boingo.com) can use BB Mobilepoint wi-fi at McDonald's restaurants, some convenience stores and some restaurants; coverage in urban Japan is good.
Internet Cafes Ubiquitous manga kissa (cafes for reading comic books) double as internet cafes; prices range from ¥200 to ¥700 per hour.
Starbucks All (1000-plus!) Starbucks stores in Japan offer free wi-fi to customers. You must register online to use the service (go to http://starbucks.wi2.co.jp).