Every now and then, Japan takes a shine to something that’s new to it but much more common overseas. Chairs, for example, were pretty much nonexistent in the country until the late 1800s, but now you’ll find them in just about every home except the most bare-bones of bachelor pads. Beer (one of the greatest beverages to enjoy while sitting on said chairs) is another foreign concept that’s gained mainstream popularity.

Likewise, although it’s taken some time to catch on, the number of places offering free Wi-Fi in Japan has been steadily increasing over the last few years, and is now available on the Tohoku Shinkansen and all of the stations on Tokyo’s most convenient train line.

Like those wondrous chairs and brews, this new push for easier access to the Internet is a result of contact with the rest of the world. At the same time as Japan is receiving more visitors from overseas, tourists are increasingly relying on online guides and networking to navigate the country and coordinate with their travel companions.

To help them do so, on May 1 Japan Railways began offering free Wi-Fi onboard E5 Type 1 trains on the Tohoku Shinkansen line, which connects Tokyo with northern Aomori Prefecture. By the end of June, the service will be expanded to include E5 Type 3 trains as well.

Even if your travel plans don’t include a jaunt off to the Tohoku region, JR is also offering free Wi-Fi in a number of new places in Tokyo, too. Complimentary Wi-Fi is now offered in all stations along the Yamanote Line that circles downtown Tokyo, as well as 11 other JR East stations and five JR East Travel Service Centers.

▼ Facilities where the service is offered are marked with this sticker.

JR 3

To make use of the service, simply register your email address and select the JR-EAST FREE Wi-Fi SSID. Each sign-in gets you three hour of free access, with no limit on how many times you can sign in per day.

Oh, and while the impetus for starting the service was to provide a more pleasant experience for foreign tourists, residents of Japan can make use of it as well. So whether you live in the country or you’re just visiting, JR is ready to help you stay connected to all of the vital sources of online information you need.

Source: JR East press release
Insert image: JR East press release
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