Phones

International Calls

There are various ways to make international phone calls from Japan; however, the best rates are internet-based services such as Skype. Calling cards are available for purchase online and can be used at public payphones. To make an international call from a landline, dial the international access code (010 or 001), followed by the country code and the number you wish to call (if the number starts with a 0, drop the 0). You may also call internationally via your mobile phone but you should request this feature specifically as not all phone sets and contracts allow for international calling.

Public Pay Phones

Public telephones are available in Tokyo, but the number has decreased in recent years due to the popularity of mobile phones. Most public phones will take both ¥10 and ¥100 coins (no change is given for ¥100 coins). All calls (including local ones) are charged based on the length of the call - approximately ¥10 per minute for calling a landline. Local calls are possible from any public phone, but international calls can only be made from a few types (usually the gray pay phones).

Cell Phones

The major Japanese mobile service providers are docomo, au, and SoftBank. With most companies, incoming calls are free. Most mobile phones can also receive and make calls internationally. Cell phones can be purchased at cell phone shops and major electronic stores.

Contract Phones

Japanese phones are not sold alone. Buying a phone usually means making a contract for a 26-month period and paying for the phone on a monthly basis. Contract terms and conditions and what is included in your monthly bill varies widely among companies so please check thoroughly before making a contract.

What you need

  1. Residence/Alien Registration Card
  2. Passport
  3. Credit card

If you are choosing a bank payment option, the following documents are also required:

  • Japanese bank account (bank card/passbook)
  • National Health Insurance Card
  • Student ID

For minors (age 19 or younger), the following are also required:

  • Original copy of Parent/Legal Guardian Authorization Form
  • Photocopy of your parent/guardian's identification

Prepaid Phones

If you are staying in Japan for less than a year and do not need all the bells and whistles a contract phone usually has, then a simpler prepaid phone is the best option. Prepaid phones are currently offered by SoftBank and au, starting at around ¥5,000 to purchase the phone. Credit, which is used for outgoing calls and e-mail, can be bought at cell phone stores, convenience stores, and online.

What you need

  1. Residence/Alien Registration Card
  2. Passport
  3. Credit card