Free Wi-Fi in Tokyo and Fukuoka, Japan: an update

Two years ago, when I visited Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Shirakawa-go, and Koyasan) I tried to find free, open Wi-Fi networks but although there were many Wi-Fi networks, most of them were open only to people in Japan who already had accounts with the Wi-Fi provider or with the cellular operator which owned the network.

Now, it appears that there is free, open (to foreigners) Wi-Fi in Tokyo and Fukuoka. I was in Fukuoka in 2008, speaking at a conference, and in that city too, I found it almost impossible to access Wi-Fi services.

Now, in Fukuoka’s biggest shopping street, the Chikagai shopping area, there is free, open Wi-Fi for everyone, including foreigners. Here are more details about free Wi-Fi in Fukuoka.

Details about the Fukuoka Wi-Fi network

Kyushu University and PicoCELA Inc. installed wireless internet access points throughout Tenjin Chikagai, one of Japan’s largest underground shopping arcades, in Fukuoka. Tenjin Chikagai is a 0.75 mile/1.2 km long dual concourse underground arcade with over 150 business tenants. In celebration of the Fukuoka City arcade’s 35th anniversary on September 1, 2011, its 400,000 daily visitors can now enjoy free high-speed access at one of the country’s largest underground WiFi hotspots.

Prior to the advent of the university’s wireless backhaul technology, constructing a multiple access point network at an expansive indoor space involved a tremendous amount of planning, labor, and expense for installing all the cabling. However, the new technology requires only a fraction of the cabling, which reduced the total installation costs for this deployment by over 86%.

Access point devices featuring the university’s wireless backhaul technology greatly reduce the cost of installing large-scale WiFi networks, removing a major obstacle to the creation and expansion of hotspots for 3G data offloading. Furthermore, the unique access point devices support the direct conveyance of dynamic location-based mobile contents, a future-oriented service for visitors; potentially an on-going revenue stream for the arcade’s tenants and contents creators.

PicoCELA was established to bring the fruits of the MIMO-MESH Project to market led by Dr. Hiroshi Furukawa, Professor, Faculty of Information Science and Electrical Engineering, Kyushu University, the project is part of the “Silicon Sea Belt Fukuoka Project” promoted by the Fukuoka Prefectural Government to build an East Asian belt of advanced semiconductor R&D sites. Funding is provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Knowledge Cluster Creation Project Phase 2 Program) and Fukuoka Industry, Science and Technology Foundation (Fukuoka IST).

Tokyo free Wi-Fi

There is apparently also free Wi-Fi in Tokyo, specifically in the fabulous Shibuya shopping district. According to Timeout Japan, “a free wifi service launched in Shibuya last year called ConnectFree. The service is available from Shibuya Crossing and extends back as far as Shidax, taking in landmark shops such as Parco, Marui, Tower Records and Lumine. Unusually for so-called free wifi services in Tokyo, it is genuinely free to connect to, without the hassles of signing up for anything.”

Recommended reading:

KDDI launches largest 3G to Wifi data offload network in Japan


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