If you’re anything like me, you find it hard to get things done at home where distractions are aplenty. The problem is, despite what the world believes about Tokyo, it can be very difficult to find reliable WiFi in public places. And when you do find a spot, a lot of times it’s a gamble as to whether you will actually be able to connect. In fact, after over three years living in Tokyo, I still only have a few go-to options when I want to do some work outside of home or the office. So, in hopes of making your life a bit simpler, I’ve listed some of my go-to places for WiFi in Tokyo (Where you can actually sit and get things done). I should mention before continuing, that not all locations listed below will have power outlets available. It varies from location to location, so be sure to have a full charge or call ahead just in case!
Let’s start with the obvious. Coffee shops are always a great place to start. However, don’t just stroll into any coffee shop and expect to be connected. In my experience, this is extremely hit-or-miss. Especially in terms of small local shops. So if you have a few coffee shops near you, take some time to figure out which ones, if any, have free WiFi available.
Many of the chain coffee shops in Tokyo do have some form of free connection available, but there are often stipulations. For example, some shops require you to be a member of a service called Freespot in order to utilize their WiFi. That being said there are plenty which don’t. However, you will have to go through some type of ‘sign-up’ process. This usually involves connecting to a network, being directed to a sign in page, and following the directions. Many times these options are in Japanese, but many do have an English menu.
Below are three coffee shop chains I frequently use and their respective ‘sign-up’ processes.
Starbucks is one of the more popular chains in Tokyo (as it is in many other places in the world). In order to use WiFi here, you will have to sign up for a free Starbucks WiFi account. Once complete, you can use that login info at any Starbucks location in Japan to connect to WiFi. Considering there are so many Starbucks in Japan, this is usually my best option. I should note that the busier locations, such as Shibuya or Omotesando often have very, very slow connections. So make sure you don’t need to do any data-heavy work in them.
You can find directions on how to connect to Starbucks Wifi below:
Dotour is another very popular coffee shop in Tokyo, probably second only to Starbucks. The sign in process is a bit different here though. Instead of creating an account, you must ask the staff for directions at the counter. They will give you a card with an email address. Basically, you email this address for a guest password. Once you have this password, connect to the network, get redirected to a login page, and use it to get connected.
Wired Cafe is much less popular than the both Starbucks and Dotour, however, the process to get set up is much simpler. You just ask the staff for the wifi info. Easy as that. Look for the network and use the given password to get connected.
Below is a list of Wired Cafe locations in Tokyo:
If coffee is not your thing, or you prefer a full meal while you work, another option is to find a restaurant chain which offers WiFi. Like coffee shops, it’s not super common for these to offer it, however, they definitely do exist. Below are two chains which I sometimes use.
This one is probably no surprise. McDonald’s, which can be found pretty much everywhere, offers free WiFi. And what’s better is there is no real sign up process. You simply connect, get redirected to a permission form, accept the conditions, and you are online.
Denny’s is another very popular restaurant for going to get work done. Many high-schoolers or college kids come here to do just that. The best thing is they offer a drink bar for unlimited drinks while you stay. So you don’t have to worry about spending too much if you get too thirsty throughout your time there. The process for getting connected is the same as it is for McDonald’s: connect, get redirected and accept conditions.
Finally, if you prefer not to dine while you work, or if you have none of the above options near you, you can always look for a convenience store. Not all stores have places for you to sit and do work, however both 7/11 and Lawson have special stores with areas specifically just for that.
Many Natural Lawsons in Tokyo serve a bit more food than the standard Lawson. Furthermore, they have a small ‘bakery’ and ‘coffee shop’ area. As a result, these locations also have a seat and table area. The benefit of these places is you do not have to buy food or drink to utilize them. Or, if you aren’t comfortable with sitting without buying, you can always get a small sports drink or snack. Again the sign up process is a simple accept conditions type thing and as far as I can tell, there is no limit to how long you can stay. (I have never been asked to leave.) One important note is that connections last for about one hour. After which point, you will need to re-sign in using the same process.
These special 7/11’s are just like the Natural Lawsons. They usually offer a bit more than their standard counterparts and have seat and table areas where visitors can eat, relax or get work done. The sign up process is the same as Natural Lawson, and just like Natural Lawson, you will have to reconnect every 60 minutes or so.
Below is the 7/11 Japan website:
Hopefully all of this is enough to get you set to do some work in Tokyo. Any of these options are pretty easy to find, and if you do find one, it’s a safe bet to assume you will get connected. However, if none of them are nearby, you are not out of luck. Although it’s not terribly common for places to offer free WiFi, it is definitely still a thing. So explore your local area and see if any of your local shops can get you set up!