Essential Tech Travel Tips for Japan: A Guide for non-Japanese Speakers!

Essential Tech Travel Tips for Japan: A Guide for non-Japanese Speakers!

Hi, this month's blog is from me, Naomi, I’m the Customer Service Manager & Digital Social Media Creator at The Japanese Shop! Jez, our MD is visiting Japan right now for business, and I assisted him in preparing for his travels. I've realised that some English speakers may not be familiar with essential aspects of visiting Japan, although nowadays, you can easily search online for information. Here are three essential things to consider before you go:


  1. Preparation for Wifi or eSIMs


Nowadays, our mobile phones are our lifesavers, containing all our contacts and useful apps. When we are abroad, being able to use your phone anytime is crucial, especially you're on a business trip! Whilst you can find WiFi spots in many places in Japan, what if you're on the move? Pocket WiFis are readily available for you to rent, or you can search for eSIMs to use in Japan, so which is best?


Pocket WiFi


A pocket WiFi is a very small lightweight plastic box, about 10cm long by 4cm wide by 1cm deep, easily fitting into your pocket! It is very easy to use, simply switch it on, it usually comes already charged, then connect it to your device using the password provided. It costs about £20 per week.

As a Japanese speaker, I assisted Jez in renting a pocket WiFi through a Japanese website which he will collect from and return to Narita (Tokyo) airport. A pocket WiFi is essential for him because it enables him to stay connected through his phone as well as his laptop for the whole of his trip.

I've also rented a pocket WiFi for our family, as we are a family of four, we connect all of our phones and other devices to the one pocket WiFi, which keeps the kids happy too!

You can easily pre-book a pocket WiFi to collect on landing at most major airports, or you can have it delivered to your hotel. One thing we noticed is that searching in English for these services can be a bit more expensive than using Japanese websites. So if you know a Japanese person, consider asking them to help you book your pocket WiFi. There are companies that specialise in offering WiFi units for rent to Japanese speakers living abroad or visiting Japan temporarily. 

 A pocket Wifi and a smart phone

(A pocket WiFi and a smartphone)



eSIM technology simplifies the process of changing or activating a mobile plan because users can remotely download and activate it

without needing a physical SIM card. In Japan, eSIM technology is supported by some mobile operators.

To use an eSIM in Japan, you can follow these general steps

  • Check device compatibility
  • Activate eSIM service
  • Download and Install eSIM profile
  • Activate and use


(eSIM image)




So, which do we think is best? If you are traveling alone and not bringing any additional devices, using an eSIM can be more convenient and is less for you to carry. However, if you are traveling with family and friends and also using additional devices such as a laptop and / or a tablet, a rental Pocket WiFi is our recommended option!


  1. Essential Apps in Japan


Here are a few apps that can be useful before and during your stay in Japan:


For Traveling

  • For Trains: JapanTravel (Navitime) and Tokyo Metro Subway Map. These apps help you plan your journeys and find information on train schedules and routes.
  • For Maps: Google Maps or Maps (for iOS). Maps are indispensable, so make sure to use them in Japan as well.


 For Translating

Google Translate can help you translate voice or written Japanese to English, which is useful for menus, purchases and inquiries. Additionally, ‘Line’ is a popular communication tool among Japanese people, so consider downloading the ‘Line’ App for making friends or business communications. Did you know that sometimes, when you take photos of written text, your camera can translate it directly through the camera? (This feature is available for iOS; I'm not sure about other phones, but I assume Android devices have a similar capability!)

 People socialising with their smartphones

(People socialising with their smartphones)


  1. Managing your Cash


In Japan, actual cash is still preferred at many small independent shops, bars and restaurants. Whilst most places do accept contactless payments, using your credit or debit cards from your home country may incur non-sterling transaction fees. However, you can use online debit cards through apps like Revolut and Wise which can offer very competitive exchange rates. You can also apply for physical cards (with fees) and use Google or Apple Pay. Our Japanese staff has found this system very convenient, reducing the need for carrying much Japanese yen in cash!

Japanese Yen, notes and coins 

(Japanese Yen, notes and coins)

I hope that these three things will help you to stay connected in Japan, travel around more easily and help you to manage your money more efficiently, thus making your trip to Japan more safe and more enjoyable!


 A few more tips from me:

Carrying small gadgets such as a pocket Wifi, Portable charger, earphones, ect. can be easy if you use one of our pouch bags! although it doesn't have to be gadgets, you could put train tickets, bank cards, cash... The pouch bag keep them nice and neat!  

Are you planning on doing some sightseeing in Japan? How about bringing along our Goshuincho? You can collect stamps and calligraphy writing from tourist spots, temples, and shrines. It's a wonderful way to preserve memories of your Japan trip both during your stay and after you return home! Below is our instagram post that Jez explaining about Goshuincho!



 PS: I'm currently living in England. I've been doing a lot of research before my upcoming trip to Japan in May. I plan to visit my family and take my mother to Mie, a place I've never been to before. I'm researching where to stay, places to visit, and what to eat there! After my visit, I'll be sure to share more about my experience in Mie with you!

Harlow Carr Pop up Shop

Just a reminder that our pop-up shop at RHS Garden Harlow Carr will be open for the whole March and April this year! We are so delighted that our pop-up shop at Harlow Carr has become an annual event for us where we can showcase to you all of our stunning and unique Japanese gifts! This year we are particularly excited about introducing our new products, not only tableware but also other lines such as stationery and accessories! Our super friendly all Japanese team, Hiromi, Naoko and Ayako will be there to welcome and assist you if you would like to know anything about our products or anything about visiting Japan! Why don’t you take advantage of enjoying the beauty of the RHS Harlow Carr Gardens as well as viewing our lovely collection? Keep your eyes peeled for details and updates on our websiteFacebook and Instagram. We hope to see you there!

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