For some time Japan has had a reputation for not having free wifi, and to some extent this is true. However, at the same time, this has changed a lot due to big companies. In fact, in big cities, finding free wifi is actually pretty easy, it’s just that most people (even most Japanese people) don’t know about it. As such, I decided to make a list of major free wifi spots in Kyoto (and, with the exception of Kyoto free wifi, can be used throughout the country).
First is Kyoto free wifi. Actually, this is almost completely useless – basically they thought of a program for Japanese people living in Japan, then decided to translate it into English because, well, a lot of foreigners come to Kyoto. So why is it useless? Because you have to send and receive an e-mail each time you login! Anyway, here’s the link for their website.
Next is 7/11’s free wifi. This is actually pretty useful as almost all 7/11 stores have it. The catch is that not all 7/11s have an area to sit down (although I’ve sat outside 7/11 on a bench and used it before). You can use it for one hour, then you get cut off (you can use it for 3 hours in one day). There’s an English (Chinese and Korean) guide to how to use it – you need to register first, so do that before leaving (as you need to confirm your e-mail address). The guide is for smartphones only, but I’m going to make a guide for PCs.
Next is Family Mart’s wifi. The situation is basically the same as 7/11, but you can get cut off after 20 minutes and can only use it for 1 hour total in a day. Similar to 7/11, you have to register first and confirm your e-mail address, so do this before leaving.
Finally is Starbucks. Starbucks in Kyoto is almost useless for wifi, and the reason is that they apparently have “rules” (note:the rules are very selectively enforced in some of the shops. Basically, in order to prevent people from ordering one coffee and sitting for 3 hours, some Starbucks ban people from using PCs or studying during certain times. I know of at least one (Starbucks Karasuma Sanjo) that has signs about this. I got told that studying and using PCs were banned at Starbucks Sanjo Ohashi (while numerous people were reading books and using tablets) so YMMV. Either way, you need to register first. Starbucks has a good English guide which is available here.