Form of Payment
The majority of pay phones in Japan take coins and "Telephone
Cards" Telephone cards can be purchased in almost all convenience stores, train
station shops and many times the cards are also sold in a vending machine inside or near
the telephone. The cards are sold 500 yen and 1000 yen units. A 500 yen card
has 50 units. One unit is worth 10 yen of talk time. The 1000 yen card has 105
units. You get 5 bonus points with the 1000 yen card. To use the card, insert
it into the card slot and simply place your call. The amount of current remaining
units on the card is displayed on the phone. If your phone card has become empty
during a phone call the phone will beep to let you know and then you have the option of
inserting another phone card or coins. At the end of your phone call the phone card
will always be returned, even if it is empty. The phone will also stamp a hole along
a unit chart on top of the phone card to let you know approximately how many units are
left. The hole will be stamped close to the number that best represents the
Telephone cards in units of 50
or 105 can be bought in many stores.
Many people collect telephone cards,
much like postal stamps are collected.
The typical Japanese public phone is green or gray or violet in color.
Warning! Don't buy that card.
Never buy a telephone card from someone off of the
street! No matter what they say! If you are caught using on of these cards you
could be arrested. The phone cards purchased off of the street are old phone cards
with a new magnetic strip. They are sold at a super low price and may seem
irresistible, but they are illegal to use, so don't even think of buying them!
Where is the coin slot?
Some phones, such as phones on the bullet train, only take
telephone cards. If this is the case there is almost always a card vending machine
Only designated Pay Phones will allow calls to other
countries. This will be indicated by a mark on the phone and normally calling
instructions. Normally to place a call you can use coins or a telephone card,
however due to the phony phone cards many coins will only let you call outside of the
country with coins. Credit cards are accepted in many of the newer
phones in the metropolitan areas. Normally train stations and Airports are your best
The three major international calling companies are
and KDD . To place a call, pick up the receiver and insert payment. You will
NOT here a dial tone until a coin or phone card has been inserted. Then dial the
access number for ITJ 0041 IDJ 0061 or KDD 001 and then dial the
country code. The country code for America is 1. Then dial the area code and
local number. KDD is probably the most expensive. Recently, due to
the increase in illegal phone cards, many of the international phones will not let you use
a telephone card to pay for the call. If this is the case, you must use coins.
If you have an MCI, ATT, SPRINT card etc. you will need to
contact the company that issued the card for instructions on usage while in Japan.