Shinjuku is one of the 23 “wards” of Tokyo. It is not a city, but a knd of province with limited autonomy. This city-within-Tokyo provides free wi-fi in limited areas which see frequent visitors.
You have to choose the Shinjuku free wifi in the network list and then you get redirected to the service website, where you have to press a button that shows you accept the terms and conditions. The big green button. This is for the government to have a way to tie you back to the access, in case something criminal is going on.
Once you have pressed that second button (the orange one) you get access to the free wifi network. This is exactly the same way that the free wifi in Starbucks works, and like the Starbucks free wifi in Tokyo it is time-limited. You get an hour free, then you have to log in again.
it is when you have pressed that second button that you get pleasantly surprised. Because that is when you get redirected to the Shinjuku Convention & Visitors Bureau.
I live next door to Shinjuku, and I was surprised that there is a Convention & Visitors Bureau there. Well, maybe not visitors, I see lots of them as I change trains every day. But conventions?
It is also worth noting that the city of Tokyo has lots of tourism marketing activities. Shinjuku is a part of Tokyo, which is why it is surprising (it is a ”ward”, much like arrondissements in Paris).
The Seasonal Shinjuku
The traditional Japanese year has several holidays, most of which are not in the current calendar. They are still celebrated, but unofficially since they are religious holidays, although you have to work hard to avoid it.
The one most obviously celebrated holiday is the Tanabata holiday, which is based in a legend about two star-crossed lovers separated by the Milky Way, but reunited for one night. Which they spend fulfilling the wishes people write on slips of paper tied to bamboo branches.
Since this a star-related festival, there are plenty of souvenirs related to stars. And often the seasonal souvenirs are worth bringing home, like these star-shaped sweets.
Walking Tour Pamphlets
The seasonal tips are only part of the website. Worth picking up or printing out are the walking tour pamplets which provide scenic walks (with explanations) in the most interesting Shinjuku areas.
The translation in the pamphlets are better than the website translation, and the maps are really useful.
The Beer Garden Which Steak Can Enjoy
If you think the language on the website looks a bit funny, it is because it is machine translated. Not that English translations in Japan often look less funny, mind you. Japanese is a very tricky language to render into English, since the grammar is completely different. And large parts of a statement can be understatements. So be careful anout using Google Translate in Japan. You may come out as funny as your Japanese interlocutor.
sometimes the result is not just laughable but funny in a LOL way. Lke the beer garden that a steak can enjoy. It should be a beer garden where you can enjoy a steak, but a word for word translation of the sentence from Japanese gives you the one in the page.
Beer gardens are a great feature for thirsty travelers, by the way. The ability to sit on the terrace and enjoy a beer with your steak is one of the great things about Japanese summer. Just make sure to choose a different beer than your steak is enjoying.
Should You Use The Free Information?
Nowadays, most of us are somewhat suspicious about ”free”. We are aware that someone always pays, and that if you are not buying, you are being sold.
In this case, however, you should not worry. There will not be any ads popping up in your feed trying to sell you things you have no interest in. Japan has extremely strict privacy laws, and if the person has not given her consent, then you can not use information for some other purpose.
So no need to worry. Instead, you should take this opportunity to spend some of the Japanese taxpayers money.
However, free WiFi does not only come without a price sticker, there is also a cost for using the service. Since the city has to pay the provider, they have not spent an unlimited amount of money on bandwidth. Rather the opposite. Very frequently, the free wifi service gets congested. So congrsted that it hardly is usable any more because so many people try to use it at the same time.
you may be better off using a different free WiFi-connection, especially if it is a day with some kind of event, or a publc holiday. I already mentioned Starbucks, but that assumes you are in the cafe itself. There are several other alternatives, and most restaurant chains have free wi-fi now. But the ones you are most likely to bump into as you are walking around Shinjuku and the rest of Tokyo are the free wifi networks of Lawson, 7-11, and FamilyMart, the three giant convenience store chains of Japan. They all offer connectivity in their stores, which usually spills over a bit to the outside. And they have much better bandwidth than the free wifi offered by the city.
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I am Wisterian Watertree, recently moved from Bangkok to Tokyo, with a brief visit to Honolulu on the way. I write about travel, especially with our three beautiful kids (two girls and one boy, soon turning four and a half - yes. they are triplets). Travel is education and fun rolled into one, and if you are like me, that is something you want to give to your kids. If you want more tips and want to find out when I will publish something, get it from my email list. If you want to be personal, drop me a note on firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you want general tips, follow me on Twitter @wisterianw.