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Free Wifi in Japan? It might not be a dream… 東京等が無料wifi化されるのが夢じゃないかも?!


Haven’t we all dreamed of living in a world blanketed in wi-fi? The internet is the 4th leg of the three life essentials: housing, food, clothing…and mobile internet connection. First world problems, I know. But while having the world fully wired may be a pipe dream, I would settle for a near future of just having Japan covered. Or even Tokyo.

Well I have tasted the future, and it is delicious. The large city of Fukuoka, (south of Osaka, on Kyushu) is currently the most widely covered wi-fi city in all of Japan, and I was there to try it out. And I wasn’t just there to surf the internet all day; on top of being wired, Fukuoka is also crowned a “Special Kawaii District” and has it’s own ambassador. I was infinitely curious to find out what a “Kawaii District” is, exactly.

So with the Tokyo Olympics coming up, we’ve been promised that our fair metropolis will be wi-fi ready by 2020. ..and yet there are already hidden free wifi spots here I learned of which are ready for you and I to freeload off of right now. How/where do you get them? See:






I just returned from an extended end-of-year trip to Europe, and since I hate being disconnected when in a foreign country, I rented a personal wi-fi device and brought it along with me. It was going fine (well, except that I apparently plowed through half of my allotted data use in just 3 days….you’re KIDDING right?!) but when I got to Berlin it went missing. As these things do. So not only did I pay through the wazoo for it, I didn’t even have it for half my trip. A waste! And the city didn’t have as much wi-fi as I’d expected. New York City is the only place where wi-fi is so abundant…or where Starbucks’ free wi-fi is so abundant. In any case, NYC is a very easy place to travel to and stay connected. But Japan on the other hand….

Japan is AWFUL for wi-fi. Sometimes, the business hotels won’t have wifi (and I only travel with my Mac Air which has no ethernet port). The Starbucks require you to pre-register, and you can’t do it without already having a connection. There are OODLES of wi fi spots, but they all require a membership fee, and there’s too many of them to make one better than another (and you need to be a resident). Considering that Tokyo is becoming a truly must-see city, the wi-fi situation for visitors and residents alike is deplorable.

年末年始、ヨーロッパへ旅に出ていたミーシャはつい先日日本に帰国したばかり。外国にいる時、ネット遮断されるのが嫌だから、ポータブルWi-Fiをレンタルしていつも持ち歩いてた。だから、まあ不便ではなかった。(でも3日で上限データ通信料超えたことにはびっくり。嘘でしょ?笑) ベルリンに到着したとき、そのWi-Fiルーターがなくなっちゃった。高い料金を払ったのにも関わらず、旅はまだ半分以上残ってるなんて!もったいない!おまけにベルリンは思ったよりWi-Fi環境がよくない。。


日本は最悪。ビジネスホテルでさえWi-Fiないこともある。(ミーシャが持ち歩くMacBook AirにはLAN繋ぐ所がない) スターバックスは事前に登録してなければWi-Fi使えない。たくさんWi-Fiスポットがあるのに、そのほとんどは登録制で会員料金が発生する。観光客や住人にとって、東京のWi-Fi環境は嘆かわしい状態であると言える。


Why Fukuoka?

Fukuoka is situated in Western Japan, where the islands form a kind of bent elbow shape and it’s the hand sitting right on the hip. This means it is extremely close to neighboring Asian capitals such as Seoul and Taipei (I think the flight from Taipei is shorter than from Tokyo?). So Fukuoka actually gets a load of tourists from Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and more. This makes it a perfect testing ground for city-sponsored wifi. Like I said above, there are a lot of wifi spots in Japan that are NOT free, but this is the first time a city itself has helped pay for wifi hotspots that anyone can use as they wish. It’s a boon for visitors…and let me tell you, there were a LOT of tourists I met even on my short stay. Even better, there are wifi spots on the same network scattered all throughout Tokyo as well as other cities… even some cities overseas! The web grows…



福岡は日本の西の方に位置する。肘を曲げたような形をした島国日本の腰に当てる「手」の部分。ということは、台湾やソウルなどの近隣アジア都市に近いということ。(台湾から福岡の方が東京からよりフライト時間が短いのでは??) だから、実は福岡にはソウルや台湾、香港、中国などのアジアからの観光客がとても多い。これは、Wi-Fi都市のテストには持ってこいの環境というわけだ。上記で言ったように、日本にあるWi-Fiスポットの多くは有料。福岡は初めて公共Wi-Fiスポットを設置し誰でも無料で使えるホットスポットを作ったという。これは観光客には飛び跳ねる程嬉しい政策。ミーシャが福岡に滞在した短い間だけでも本当にたくさんの外国人を見かけた。もし、東京やその他の街にも同じWi-Fiスポットが点在したら…海外にまでそれが広がっているらしい…!?嘘でしょ?!素晴らしい事!ウェブ社会ももっと成長するでしょう。



fukuoka-jguidest-1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


ジュディと私 Judy and I 


Show me the internet!

You came here to find out how to get free wifi, right? The wifi is sponsored by NTT and JTB Group and you do need to download an app. I know, it’s a buzzkill—but in return there are no annoying ads for it. The app is called “jGuidest”(download iphone/android here) and it’s really just a place to find out some interesting places to visit/eat/shop at while on your trip as well as pick up coupons for free drinks or food or discounts for massages, etc. The important part is the wifi that comes with it. Click on “connect” in the right-side top corner and if you’re within range, it will connect for you. Or, press the button next to it and search for the hotspot closest to your location. This is where you’ll find the list for Tokyo and other cities in Japan as well.

There’s a one-time registration (I haven’t gotten any spam mail yet) and from now on it will automatically connect to any wifi spots in the system-you don’t even have to open the app.

In Fukuoka, there are strong wifi spots in all the  train/subway stations, shopping malls such as Parco and department stores, the airport and all of the main tourist attractions including some temples(!!).

As for Tokyo? Right now there are wifi spots apparently set up on the Yamanote Line, 711 Convenince stores and Roppongi Hills among others (I haven’t tested it in Tokyo yet so YMMV). There are also tons of places in Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe it seems (far more than Tokyo…being a bit of a “fashionably late” snob, Tokyo).

It’s a shame that these whole cities aren’t completely “blanketed” in wifi as I had hoped, but its a start, and honestly, it did its job. And it came in handy because MY job was to learn about what was so Kawaii about Fukuoka and I had a lot to look up…and not get lost.



みなさんが気になっているのは”どうやってフリーWi-Fiをゲットするのか?”ですよね?お待たせしました。お教えします。このWi-FiはNTTとJTBグループが協力して進めているもので、まずはアプリをダウンロードします。(アプリなんか、めんどーい!と思う方もいるかもしれませんが、目障りな広告とかもないからぜひ!)アプリの名前は”jGuidest”(iphone/ androidのダウンロードはこちら)。ま、本来は外国人におすすめのお出かけ先や、レストラン、カフェ、ショップなどを旅行中に探してくれたり、割引クーポンや無料サービスのチケットなどをピックアップしてくれるという優れもの。日本人でもつかってもOKらしい。

そして、肝心のWi-Fiですが、これらの情報と一緒に飛んでくるのです。右上に表示される”connect”をクリックするだけでWi-Fiエリアにいれば、電波をキャッチ出来るという訳。いちばん近いホットスポットを検索することだってできます。それで、東京やその他の日本の都市の無料WiFiが見れる。最初に登録は必要だけど、(ミーシャもしたけど、スパムメールなどはいまだゼロ)そのあとは勝手にWi-Fiを見つけて繋げてくれました。一回そのスポットにつなげればアプリをいちいち立ち上げなくてもつなげてくれました。  弱点といえば、まだまだ開発途中のアプリなので、不具合も起きること。ただ、改善中なのでダウンロードして損はないと思います。

福岡では、電車や地下鉄の駅、パルコなどショッピングモールやデパート、空港、観光地(お寺にまで!) Wi-Fiが飛んでいました!電波も強くて快適快適!




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J Guidest ダウンロードはこちら. Download J Guidest here


Mizu-taki Nabe (chicken stew) SHIN MIURA [水炊き 新三浦]






What is a Special Kawaii District?

Fukuoka has been deemed a Special Kawaii District, (特別カワイイ区)and even employs a Kawaii Ambassador, who lives there now. How and why does it have this recognition? As Fukuoka Mayor Soichiro Takahashi explained, the city is young. And young equals energy and style. Apparently, while most of Japan suffers from a shrinking population, Fukuoka is growing. Meanwhile, the young people are clothes and style horses: they spend more money shopping for clothes on average than anywhere else in Japan, and he said they have the highest density of hair salons in the world (Harajuku is a close second). Personally, I have often heard of the adage that Fukuoka is a great place to be a fashion brand but I didn’t believe it until now.



福岡は自身を特別カワイイ区と制定して、人気ユーチューバーのカナダ人をカワイイアンバサダーに迎えている。どういう経緯でこうなったのか?福岡市長の高島宗一郎さんが説明してくださった。福岡市は若い世代がエネルギッシュだという。日本の人口が減り続けている一方、福岡では増えているらしく、それと同時に、若い人々は服などの買い物に夢中なため、他の都市の若者の平均よりも多く服にお金をかけているという。しかも、ヘアサロンの密度が世界一なんだそう!(原宿エリアは僅差で二位?!) 個人的に様々なファッション業界人から ”福岡はうれる街”だってよく聞くけど、今の今まで信じた事なかった。


Kimono Shop, KIMONO HEARTS [キモノハーツ福岡] 




But what is Kawaii in Fukuoka? My friend Judy Chou, a fashion icon and TV host in Taiwan, joined me on a tour to discover what it means to be a Kawaii District. In fact, it had a lot to do with tradition being given a cute makeover. We looked at kimono that were styled with Victorian-era decor, we ate Japanese sweets shaped like plums and birds, and we took a trip up to Fukuoka Tower, an observation deck with a floor dedicated to whimsical romance. The next day, we talked about our findings, and what we think “Kawaii” means nowadays at a talkshow held in a stylish Tsutaya/Starbucks hybrid not unlike T-site in Daikanyama. We were joined by Fukuoka’s Kawaii Ambassador to the world, Canada-born Youtuber Micaela Braithwaite.There were both Japanese and foreign visitors in our audience. For the latter question, we were all unanimous in asserting that anything one likes can be considered “Kawaii”, even if it’s not really “cute” as defined by a dictionary. I ate some fried mentaiko gyoza dumplings that were bunched into a shape of a flower. Those were cute. The yatai food cart were were eating at ? Cute. The chef trying to speak in Chinese to a group of Hong Kong customers? Super cute. Friendliness and a penchant for keeping things clean, friendly and fun, is what makes Fukuoka a Kawaii District.

But you know what’s the cutest of ALL?

Definitely the Wi-fi, brah.

で、福岡のカワイイとはいったいなんだろう?友人のJudy Chou(台湾のテレビに出演しているファッションアイコン) も今回は一緒に”特別カワイイ区調査ツアー”を回ったんだけれど、蓋をあけてみると伝統的なものをかわいく作り直すという作業が盛りだくさんでした。ビクトリア調にスタイリングされた着物をみたり、スモモや小鳥の形をした和菓子を食べたり、福岡タワーにのぼって、奇妙な床アートを訪れたり。次の日、私たちが感じ、考えた”福岡カワイイ”を代官山ツタヤのスターバックスで開かれたトークショーで話した。このトークにカナダ出身、福岡在住の人気ユーチューバー兼福岡市かわいいアンバサダーをつとめるミカエラさんを迎えました。





今回の旅(特にトークショー)は今月NHK カワイイインターナショナルで放送されます!こちらからご覧ください。

Note: Bits of the trip (especially the talkshow) will air on the TV show I host, NHK KAWAII INTERNATIONAL this month. How to watch:

In UTC or Universal Time Coordinated, timings are as follows:
January 31, Sat. 15:10/21:10
February 1, Sun. 3:10/9:10

In JST or Japan Standard Time:
February 1, Sun. 0:10/6:10/12:10/18:10

You can watch REAL TIME on NHK World broadcast on your TV or on the internet here. リアルタイムなら、ネットで無料ご覧になれます


Fortune amulets at KEGO SHRINE [警固神社でおみくじ] 




Japanese Sweets atelier, KUMAHISA [菓子匠 熊久]





3rd tallest tower in Japan, Fukuoka Tower [福岡タワー]




Outdoor traveling restaurant cart, YATAI town [屋台]




Traditional Fish Cakes, KAMABOKO specialist NISHIMON [西門蒲鉾本店]




バイバイ! Ciao!


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