Destination Guide | Tokyo Japan


Japan has an extensive range of telephone services. English language assistance is available when applying for installation of a personal phone. Arranging a telephone line is costly and you may need help to get the line installed. International calls can be made from private phones with international access and certain public phones.

NTT Phone Services Numbers
113 Repair services
116 Moving and Relocating
104 Directory Assistance
177 Weather
117 Time signal

Mobile Phones

Japan is a world leader in wireless technology. Mobile phones are called “keitai”. There are 3 major mobile phone companies in Japan: NTT Docomo, Au by KDDI and Softbank. Retail shops are everywhere. Phone prices are very competitive and you could buy one for 1yen.

Obviously for watching TV, using it as an MP3 player, taking a good-quality digital photo ups the cost.

NTT Docomo



Tips: In Japan do not use your mobile phone on any public transportation. Receiving a call while on subway, train or bus, quickly answer and call back later. Clients understand this and accept you hanging up.

Do not use your phone while driving as this is against the law.

Using Japanese mobile phones abroad In a nutshell, service contents across different carriers are virtually the same; if you are subscribed to your network’s roaming service, you can make/receive calls, send/receive texts and go on the internet. However, different handsets have different capabilities and as such, it is vital to purchase the one compatible with the network standard abroad. This should not pose you with any difficulty as many handsets nowadays are compatible with GSM. Fees for services mentioned differ by countries and also by network carriers within a given country. So having in mind which country one will use a Japanese mobile the most is essential in deciding which Japanese network to subscribe to in the first place (information regarding fees per country is available on their corporate websites). About different network standards NTT docomo 3G, GSM SoftBank 3G, GSM AU by KDDI CDMA, GSM

If your handset is compatible with any of abovementioned network standards, you can use your phone abroad given that you are subscribed to a roaming service. However, we do not recommend purchasing handsets that are compatible only with CDMA standard; CDMA can only be used in some pan-pacific nations such as USA, Mexico, China, and Indonesia. There is no coverage of it in entire Europe.

Using handsets purchased abroad in Japan

Yes, you can. However, policies across major network carriers differ, and you also run a risk of purchasing a SIM-card only contract in Japan and the SIM not functioning on your handset.

NTT docomoThey offer SIM-card only contracts. However, your phone has to be SIM-lock free and compatible with network standards in Japan. As such, they cannot guarantee a handset’s proper functioning in Japan and nor do they hold specific information regarding each handset’s functionability in Japan.
SoftBankMuch the same as Docomo. SIM-card only contracts are available, but proper functioning of your handset is not guaranteed for the reason given above.
AU by KDDIThey do not have SIM-card only contracts available.

As for the cost of phone line contracts, prices typically range from 5,000 to 12,000 JPY/month depending on your needs. If you choose to purchase a handset in Japan, there will be an added cost of 20,000 to 40,000 JPY depending on the desired handset. There are of course cheaper handsets available (some for free), but this depends largely on each company’s promotional offers at a given time.

Public Pay Phone

Public pay phones are decreasing because of increased mobile phone use. Public phones in Japan are: green, a regular phone and gray a digital one.

Public pay phones are operated through NTT. The charges are listed below:

Public Telephone Charges

(intra-prefecture calls)
Distance Between Service Areas Call duration for 10 yen (Includes taxes)
Daytime Evening Late Night/Early Morning
8:00 to 19:00 19:00 to 23:00
(Also includes weekend and holiday daytime calls)
23:00 to 8:00
Local area 60 seconds 80 seconds
Adjacent areas and up to 20 km away 42.5 seconds 55 seconds
20 km to 30 km 28.5 seconds 38 seconds
30 km to 40 km 23 seconds 28 seconds
40 km to 60 km 17 seconds 21 seconds
60 km to 80 km 12.5 seconds 16.5 seconds 18 seconds
80 km to 100 km 11 seconds 16.5 seconds 18 seconds
100 km to 160 km 9 seconds 15 seconds 16.5 seconds
Over 160 km 8.5 seconds 15.5 seconds 14 seconds

* Please inquire with each mobile telephone carrier for call charges from public telephones to mobile phones, etc.
To make an international call from public pay phone, dial carrier code + 010 + country code + phone number.