So when I cam to Japan I thought that they would be on the top of the internet and electronics world. This was a completely made up assumption based on stereotypes Americans make – I had no facts that would back it up. Unfortunately when I got here it was only partially true. There are an ABUNDANCE of electronics, so it is easily accessible, but as far as internet… not so much.
I didn’t have internet for the first 3 months I was in Japan. On the plus side, I did get an Iphone almost immediately with unlimited data so I did have access to the rest of the world. Outside of my Iphone, I couldn’t use my Ipad or my computer at all. I kept pulling my Ipad out at train stations and trying to search for wifi. My Ipad would say it was connecting but then an error message would pop up on the internet page and I couldn’t go any further on the web. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to see signs that said Wifi but not being able to have access to it! What I learned was that the ‘free Wifi’ that companies are advertising require you to have an email address linked to a wireless provider in order to connect. For example, my phone would connect to the internet – but it was hooked up to Soft Bank, which is like a Japanese version of Sprint or AT&T. Soft Bank somehow linked to these ‘Free Wifi’ spots and gave my phone the “ok” to use the wifi. I didn’t have that access with my computer or Ipad.
A couple of weeks prior to getting internet a friend told me that the Seattle’s Best Coffee in the shopping center at Okubo Station had free Wifi. I didn’t believe her. I thought it was like every other ‘Free Wifi’ sign I’d seen in Japan, but I decided to check it out. Low and behold, in the basement grocery store of Vivre, right next to Aeon, there is a Seattle’s Best Coffee with FREE WIFI! – But there is one catch – you have to create an account and you must have access to a cell phone email address. Luckily, I had that, so I was able to use the internet freely on both my Ipad and my computer!
This discovery kept me strong for the next 2-3 weeks prior to getting my own wifi. I was happy to recently pass this info on to someone else and hopefully someone out there in Japan will see this post and run out to find a Seattle’s Best too!