Japan offers residents and travellers access to some of the most advanced telecommunications service in the world. It was the first country to unveil a large-scale 3G (third generation) mobile phone network, and though its mobile technology is both popular and advanced, it still sports an impressive array of highly capable public phones.
To make a phone call in Japan, simply dial the area code and the number that you are calling. If you are calling a number long-distance from inside Japan, make sure you include any 0s at the beginning of the number. Otherwise, your line could try to treat the call as local and it might not go through.
The area codes for Japan´s major cities are listed below:
- 082 Hiroshima
- 078 Kobe
- 075 Kyoto
- 06 Osaka
- 03 Tokyo
- 045 Yokohama
Mobile phone numbers start with a prefix of either 070, 080 or 090. These prefixes are not organized according to specific mobile service providers.
Useful telephone service numbers
119 Fire, Ambulance
118 Emergencies at sea
(0120) 461 997 Japan Helpline (24-hour service in English)
The tariff-free numbers provided by NTT start with the prefix 0120, while Japan Telecom´s begin with 0088. Tariff-free numbers cannot be called from outside Japan.
Public phones in Japan
All Japanese public phones (koshu denwa) are colour-coded. The colour of the phone indicates its capabilities. Green and grey coloured phones allow international calls, and accept payment by coin or calling card. Gray phones also offer an outlet for connecting a laptop to the internet. Blue coloured phones allow international calls to be charged to credit cards. Pink phones have the least functionality, and they only accept coins.
To dial internationally from Japan, first dial the international access code (010). Then dial the code for the country you are dialling. If the country´s code begins with one or more 0s, skip them and dial the remaining numbers. The country code for Germany, for example, would be dialled as 49, not 049. After dialling the country code you can dial the area code and phone number you are calling.
International calling cards are popular among Japanese people and foreigners alike. Their prices vary, but they are very common and are usually sold in convenience stores and vending machines near public phones. Because phone cards are so widely used, their design has become a minor art form, and many Japanese people collect them. NTT caters to this trend by offering personalized phone cards for businesspeople.