Calls within Japan
There are a surprisingly large number of situations when you will need to make phone calls while traveling. These include reservations at accommodations and restaurants, emergency calls, and in the event you lose your credit card. In Japan, as a general rule, foreign travelers cannot sign up with major cell phone companies to use phone services (identification such as a residence card is required). For now, phone services available to foreign travelers are limited to the following methods (as of June 2022).
- International Roaming
- Voice SIM
- Rental Mobile Phone
- Communication Applications
- Pay Phones
This allows you to use the phone line of a Japanese telecommunications carrier that has a tie-up with the telecommunications carrier in your home country to which you are currently subscribed. You can use your current mobile device and phone number. However, calling charges are often significantly high, and an additional subscription may be required. Please check with the telecommunications carrier with which you are currently contracted.
You can make voice calls and use the Internet connection by replacing the SIM card in your mobile phone. Although not many carriers offer SIMs with phone service for foreign visitors to Japan, they are available at stores in major airports and some electronics retailers. However, this service is not available for non-SIM-free mobile phones or phones that do not support Japanese communication standards.
You can rent a mobile phone for a certain period from a rental company that has a store at an airport or other location. The rental fee is quite expensive, and there are restrictions on the devices and the period you can use the phone. However, if your mobile phone is incompatible with Japanese telecommunication standards, this is a quick and easy solution.
Download the calling application to your mobile phone and make calls online. Calls require an Internet connection, so you will need a data SIM, rental Wi-Fi courser, or free Wi-Fi spot. Emergency calls (110 and 119) are not available.
- Skype can be used to make international and domestic calls to landlines and mobile phones. If you obtain a Skype number, you can also receive calls (both for a fee).
- In Japan, many people use LINE, and you can make calls between LINE users for free. However, you cannot call landlines.
Although the number of pay phones is gradually decreasing, you can find them in public facilities such as stations and city halls. 10 yen and 100 yen coins or prepaid cards can be used. Emergency calls (110 and 119) can be made free of charge.
- NTT West Public Telephone Locator (Japanese only) http://www.ntt-west.co.jp/ptd/map/
An Internet environment is essential when traveling. For example, you may need to use online maps, check disaster information and timetables, and use translation applications. Depending on the length of your stay, budget, and objectives, you should ensure that you have the environment you need.
- SIM for Data Communication
- Rental Wi-Fi Courser
- Free Wi-Fi Spots
You can connect to the Internet by replacing the SIM card in your mobile phone. Unlike SIMs with phone services, many companies offer data communication SIMs for foreign visitors to Japan. They are sold at major airports, electronics retail stores, convenience stores, and other places. If you want to use a SIM card as soon as you arrive in Japan, the quickest way is to get one at the airport. However, if your mobile phone is not SIM-free or does not support Japanese communication standards, you cannot use this service.
- JNTO JAPAN Mobile Tips (search for SIM card and rental Wi-Fi courser stores) JAPAN Mobile Tips｜Home (jnto.go.jp)
f your mobile phone device is incompatible with Japanese communication standards, you can rent a mobile Wi-Fi courser. One courser can be used for multiple devices, such as mobile phones, computers, and tablets, so you can also share it with your friends. There are rental stores at major airports and electronics stores, which can be found on the website below. If you need a specific model or service, it is best to reserve it online before entering Japan and pick it up upon arrival.
- JNTO JAPAN Mobile Tips (search for rental Wi-Fi courser and SIM card stores) JAPAN Mobile Tips｜Home (jnto.go.jp)
Free Wi-Fi spots are rapidly expanding throughout Japan. The following services can be used to find free Wi-Fi spots throughout Japan. However, please note that free Wi-Fi may lack sufficient security. Please use it with caution. Also, free Wi-Fi spots may not be available in mountainous areas.
- Japan Wi-Fi auto-connect
After downloading the application and registering as a user, you will be automatically connected to 138,000 free Wi-Fi spots throughout Japan. This is a highly reliable free Wi-Fi service provided by companies and municipalities throughout Japan. It is officially certified by each company and local government for connection and certification and is provided by NTT BP.
- Free Wi-Fi Passport
If you use SoftBank (one of Japan’s telecommunications carriers) with an international roaming contract, you can search for and use 400,000 free Wi-Fi spots throughout Japan.