For many people living in Japan, a mobile phone provides easy and cheap access to the internet. Sure your phone internet can help you keep in touch with friends back home, or keep up with English news and trends, as well as many of the other wonderful things the internet can do. However, with live services like Netflix and Disney+ getting bigger each year, having a home internet connection can be worthwhile too. Whilst you could watch Star Wars: The Mandalorian on your phone, data caps on mobile networks in Japan are still pricy. Not to mention, do you really want to watch a movie on a 6 inch screen?
Today we are going to look at how to get home internet in Japan, what your options are, and how much it is all going to cost you. Various services exist, and campaigns come and go which can discount initial fees. Read on to find out all you need to know about getting home internet set up in Japan.
Some ISP’s in Japan offer a full English service, but some do not. Therefore it is worthwhile to quickly go over some of the words you are likely to encounter before we move on.
光 (hikari): Fiber optic internet. Most of the internet provided in Japan is through high speed fiber optic connections. Coverage is very high, including in many rural villages. Other connection types such as ADSL exist, but they are slower and not subsidized, making them a moot consideration.
モバイル (mobile): Mobile internet. Wireless internet can be a valid alternative if you want to avoid long connection wait times, connection fees and long contracts. The most common is 4G, but 5G services are rapidly spreading.
無線 (musen): Wireless. This refers to Wi-Fi in the home, as opposed to mobile (4G, LTE etc.).
フレッツ (Flets): Fiber connection over NTT hardware. The most common connection type, so sometimes congestion can occur.
Nuro: Fiber connection through Sony Hardware. The fastest internet available in Japan.
一戸建て (Ikkodate): A standalone house.
マンション (mansion): An apartment or housing complex.
A line provider owns and maintains the physical cabling and hardware systems that make up the internet. In Japan, there are three competing line providers. These are NTT, KDDI and Sony. When using KDDI or Sony hardware, you will also receive your service through them. However, with NTT you will contract with another party for your service. Let’s look at these three line providers that provide home internet access in Japan, and what differentiates them.
The NTT line provider is run by DoCoMo, a company you may be familiar with through your phone. NTT is the largest internet provider in Japan. The NTT service is referred to as Flets, and is an unbundled service. What this means is that the line and the service are not bundled together, and you must therefore contract with two companies. The second company offers you service to the internet, trough the NTT hardware. In the end this does not really effect you, but it can cause slight confusing during the initial stage and when canceling a service. Even though you contract with two companies instead of one, as you will see the price does not really end up being more expensive.
KDDI is the second largest provider of home internet in Japan. They are the AU brand that you may know from smartphones. KDDI/AU is ranked the fastest in Japan according to Netflix statistics. This may be due to less congestion, as they are not as popular as the NTT service. Unlike NTT, KDDI/AU is a bundled service, so you only need to contact a single company.
You can confirm if the service is available by contacting the English help line from their website. Alternatively, you can visit the Japanese site and find out instantly, but you will need to navigate the Japanese site.
In Japan, Sony do more than just make cameras, TV’s and PlayStation. They also offer internet, insurance and have their own bank! The Sony internet service, known as Sony Nuro, has the fastest potential max speed of all Japanese ISP’s. The service however is far more limited than the other two players. To check if your home address is able to make use of the service, you can follow the instructions below.
- Visit https://www.nuro.jp/lp/area/
- Enter your address postcode in the input box
- If you receive a popup message, your postcode is not in a serviceable area
- If you see a list of address, click your address, then
- 集合住宅（アパート・マンション）for those who live in an apartment
- 戸建住宅 for those who live in a house
- You will be presented with the options Sony Nuro has for your address. If you are lucky you can get a 10Gbps connection!
A comparison of Japanese ISP
Let us have a look at some of the most popular internet service providers in Japan. From here you can find a provider that fits your needs and expectations.
|Type||Speed||Monthly Fee||Connection Fee||Website|
|Flets Fiber||1Gbps||House: 6780/713022 Mansion: 4300/445522||19800||*ENG|
|Wireless||4G LTE||~24th mnth:3850 25th mnth~:4719 37th mnth~:4785||3300||*ENG|
|Flets Fiber||1Gbps||House: 5610 Mansion: 3690||7600~18000||*JPN|
|Fiber||1Gbps||Mansion: 5720 House: 4180||264003||*JPN|
- Valid as of 05/18/2021
- NTT west (bordering at Gifu/Shizuoka/Toyama) /NTT East
- Only charged if previous work has not been done. Otherwise 2200 yen ~
- Usually discounted to 0 yen
Discounts on home internet connections in Japan
Generally all options for home internet in Japan have some sort of campaign or discount ongoing. These discounts are usually limited, but a new one seems to pop up pretty soon after.
Discounts range from free service charges (usually something around 800 yen discount per month for 12 months), to heavily discounted or free installation charges.
Here are the currently offered discounts as of 05/18/2021 for the above options
|Asahi-net Flets||12 month service charge free (860/730)2||Website|
|Asahi-net Wireless||Initial months are cheaper (see monthly charges)||Website|
|OCN Flets||Monthly price reduced on 2yr contract||Website|
|Softbank Fiber||5 year special contact price||Website|
|Softbank Wireless||Rental discounted||Website|
|Sony Nuro Fiber||Connection free with 3 year contract||Website|
|AU Fiber||-1100 yen with a 2 year contract||Website|
How long does the process take?
Unfortunately setting up your home internet can take a long time in Japan. This is especially true if you do it around the hiring season in Japan (April), because many people are moving house and applying for an internet connection too. Around April you can expect to wait up to 2 months for your internet connection! If possible try to get on it before this season, but if that’s not possible, you just have to be patient.
Once a technician comes to your house, you will quickly receive what you need, and be online in no time. You generally have to do this setup yourself, but the included instructions are simple. If you are not tech savvy, going with Asahi-net as your ISP will allow you to ask questions in English, so that could be useful.
I hope this article will help you get connected, and enjoy Japans super-fast internet in your home.