Translated by Lester Somera
What You Should Know About Japanese Pay Phones In An Emergency
This article explains how to use Japanese pay phones, which are useful in the event of a disaster or emergency, or if your cell phone stops working.
Written by Mayu
How To Use Pay Phones When You’re In Trouble
Due to the spread of landlines and cell phones, the number of pay phones is dwindling, but since they can be used when cell phone reception fails during natural disasters, or when blackouts render landlines useless, they are still utilized. In the event that you get into trouble and need to use a pay phone, you should know how to use one in Japan.
Pay Phone Locations
Japanese pay phones have conspicuous color schemes like yellow-green and pink, and are generally found in places such as airports, train stations, government buildings, the lobbies of large company offices and convenience stores. They’re not hard to find.
How To Use A Pay Phone
You’ll need a 10 yen coin or a calling card to use a pay phone. For ten yen, you get a minute of talk time.
First, pick up the receiver and listen for the tone. Drop in your coin or insert the calling card, then dial the number, starting with the area code, and wait for a moment while the line connects.
10 Yen Coins
If you don’t have 10 yen, some pay phones accept 100 yen coins too, but they don’t give change, even if you use less than your allotted time for 100 yen, so be careful.
Calling cards are prepaid cards for use with pay phones. They are sold at convenience stores with 500 or 1000 yen loads.
How To Make International Phone Calls
You can also make international calls from pay phones. While most pay phones can do international calling, some of them can’t. If a phone can make international calls, the display will read 国際通話利用可 ("usable for international calls") in Japanese.
While you can usually use coins or calling cards to place calls, you can’t use calling cards at some terminals, so be careful.
When dialing 0033-011-country code-area code (remove the first 0)-phone number, first hit 0033 then 011. Input the country code, area code (remove the first 0 of the code), then the number of the person you’re trying to call.
On normal weekdays during daytime hours (8:00-19:00), 1000 yen gets you this much talk time.
America: 7 minutes, 25 seconds
China: 5 minutes, 20 seconds
Make good use of pay phones when you want to call abroad.
Pay Phones are Free for Emergency Calls
It’s surprisingly little-known, but you can use pay phones for free in an emergency. If you encounter trouble or have an accident in Japan, use this method to get help.
Using Pay Phones for Emergencies
If you discover someone who needs urgent care, or a fire or other disaster occurs, or you need to call the police or an ambulance, you don’t need 10 yen or a calling card.
Do not put in a coin or a calling card. Simply lift the receiver and dial 110 or 119.
For emergencies, dial one of these three numbers:
・Medical emergencies・・・・・・119 (firefighters, EMTs)
・Fires or other disasters・・・・・・110 (police)
・Incidents at sea・・・・・・118 (coast guard)
Also, pay phones may reach Japanese landlines and cell phones in the case of an earthquake or other emergency, for free (**). When you find yourself in an unforeseen situation, make use of the pay phones.
**The Japanese telecommunications companies, NTT East and NTT West, will decide to activate this in the event of a calamity significant enough to activate the Disaster Relief Act, and when large-scale power failures make it necessary to ensure that disaster victims can communicate with each other.