Mobile Phones

Most tourists want to call home at least one time while they are traveling in Japan but this is not always easy or cheap. Below are 5 options but we recommend either option numbers 4 or 5 as they are the least expensive.

Most Important Points

Option 1 – Use your cell phone in Japan

Most of non-Japanese phones do not work in Japan and the ones that do can be very expensive to use. If you have a smart phone like an iPhone or Android you may have better luck but due to data charges this can also be a very expensive option. In fact, we recommend you to keep your smart phone on “airplane mode” and only use it to connect to internet by WIFI. Japan is famous for new technologies but free WIFI spots are not as common as it can be in other countries.

Note: Even your cell phone provider says your phone will work in Japan please read all the fine print and understand what the actual costs are.

Option 2 – Use your hotel phone

Nowadays the in-room phones are mostly used for room service, wake up calls and emergencies. For an international phone call this option would work but this will be very expensive and we do not recommend it.

Option 3 – Renting a cell phone in Japan

This is a convenient alternative as you just pick up the rental phone at the airport when you arrive in Japan and drop it off on the way back home. Be aware that the rental fee does not include usage which can be as high as 100 yen per minute for outgoing domestic calls though incoming calls are often free.

Option 4 – Use Skype, Facetime or similar service to call…

If you are at a WIFI spot you can use your computer, smart phone (iPhone, Windows, Android…), or tablet to make free calls to others while on Skype. You can also use Skype to make cheap calls to land lines around the world. At Japanese Guest Houses and Rediscover Tours we use Skype to contact each other between the US and Japan. It works great and if the person you are calling has Skype then it is all free.

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