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Phones in japan 2007/12/4 06:43
I have a few questions concerning phones in japan.

I'm going to spend a few weeks in Tokyo soon and I have a friend who stays there as well (just a different part of the town) who wants to have the safety of being able to contact me in case she needs help.
I have a cellphone that I know will work, but I'm not sure how she can contact me.

So as far as I know it is impossible to buy a japanese cellphone if you are "just" a tourist. (or am I wrong on this?)
Also renting a phone is out of the question (I have a phone that works for me), and renting one is too expensive for her -_-;
so basically we need a way for her to call me (on my german cellphone) in case of emergency.

so onto my real questions:
- is it possible to call a foreign (german) Cellphone from a puplic phone.
- is it really impossible to just buy a prepaid phone ?
- are there any "callshops" that let you call foreign numbers ?

thank you
m(_ _)m
by Maike  

options 2007/12/4 10:13
You need an alien registration card to get even a prepaid phone these days as far as I know, so if you are both here on tourist permits then this isn't an option.

There are no "call-shops" that I know of- I have only seen these in less developed countries like India and never come across one in Japan.

The grey international public phones should be fine, as long as the number is dialled directly including the international code I presume, I don't remember this offhand.

Another option is for her to set up a Skype account and then call you from an internet cafe I suppose.
by Sira rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/4 13:17
There are no "call-shops" that I know of- I have only seen these in less developed countries like India and never come across one in Japan.

Hey, Germany has those, I wouldn't call Germany less developed. ;)
But I also haven't seen such shops yet in Tokyo.

Usually an alien registration card is needed for foreigners to buy a cell phone.
Does anyone know if there could be problems if someone else with such a card buys a phone for someone else?
I don't want to get thrown out of Japan just because of such a thing. ;) No, seriously, I could try to buy a phone for you with my card, if there are no legal problems.

Yes, using a public phone on the street, she will have to call your cell phone number as if you'd be in Germany, so this could eb quite expensive. There are however international phone cards which will make such calls much cheaper. If she stays at a backpacker's place or youth hostel, then they can probably provide her with such a card.

Skype is indeed a good way.

Have you already checked renting prices? They shouldn't be that expensive, if it's not for so long.

I assume you have a UMTS phone? You should check with your phone company that they really include Japan in their roaming countries. I know that e-plus doesn't do this. :(

Gruesse nach Deutschland. :) Hier ists waermer als bei euch. ^^
by Haf rate this post as useful

( ^_^)ロ---------ロ(^_^ ) moshi moshi 2007/12/4 16:56
If it is "life or death" emergency then your friend should call 110 for polis and 119 for EMS/fire.

For other personal emergencies,like other people posted,she can use public payphone along with international dialing card to call your roaming cell phone inexpensively.


you can buy this card at conbini store in Japan.
by hodad rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/4 23:41
thank you for all your answers.

she will be staying with her boyfriend, but they tend to fight quite often ^^; (bad idea to stay with him if you ask me)
so she just wants to be able to contact me in such an "emergency" (plus she doesn't speak any japanese )

Yes I do have an umts-phone and I know that it works in Japan (vodafone; tested before )
so basicly I will try to set her up with another (german) vodafone umts phone, and if this I tell her to use the grey (?) public phones.

thank you
by Maike rate this post as useful

Calls in Japan 2007/12/5 04:48

I do not see what the problems are. You asked:

Is it possible to call a foreign (German) Cell phone from a public phone?

Yes. Providing you use a phone card or credit card, or have enough change. Check out the page here at Japan-guide (http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2223.html) or this page on gojapan.about.com (http://gojapan.about.com/cs/livinginjapan/ht/ht_publicphone....)

Is it really impossible to just buy a prepaid phone?

Yes. Check at the airport. Companies like SoftBank carry the phones. However, you will be purchasing a phone, phone card and normally a one-year service agreement. A valid credit card and you Passport is normally enough.

I suggest you look at the rental options at the airport. There are shops there set up to provide service for visitors. You maybe surprised at how inexpensive they are.

Check out the terminal information at the Narita International Airport site http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/

Are there any "callshops" that let you call foreign numbers?

I believe so, but cannot give you an address. Check with the hotel you are stay at or with friends.

by tenshinyc rate this post as useful

... 2007/12/5 06:06
You cannot get a prepaid phone in Japan without proof of residency.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Note to yllwsmrf 2007/12/6 05:31

I do not believe that is correct. It is possible that the rules have changed.

My Vodaphone is a prepaid phone, which is now sponsored by SoftBank. I originally purchased it in 2005. It was recommended by the sales person because of the length of time I was going to be in country. I bought the phone at Narita Airport, but actually picked it up in Roppongi because the airport was out of the phone.

I have activated the phone every year since, although I only spend a short time every year in Japan. The only thing I was asked for was my passport and a valid credit card.

I purchased the phone, at the time a paid the service fee to set up the account and purchased the prepaid card. They even made the call to activate my time. Now when I go into Japan, I stop by the Softbank shop, they check the account, drop some more time in and I am good to go. Although it is not necessary, I make it a point to stop in the store when I need more time and let them handle it for me.

My last trip was in June and on my next trip I will probably upgrade the phone to a newer Softbank model.

by tenshinyc rate this post as useful

. 2007/12/6 09:09
Well, I got my cell phone second hand, so I haven't experienced the process of buing one myself. :) But a friend bought one a few weeks ago from Softbank and as far as I remember he told me that he had to wait until he got his Alien Registration Card.

So Tenshi, maybe they changed their policy so that a proof of residency is needed, but only for new bought cell phones.
by Haf rate this post as useful

Change 2007/12/6 13:00
They have changed their policy- sometime in the last couple of years I believe.
by Sira rate this post as useful

... 2008/1/15 11:43
Yes, the policy has been changed within the last 2 years. People with current valid phones can continue their service.

As for the original poster's question, the simplest method would be to use a payphone and dial direct. Since your number is a German number it would be the same as an international call to Germany. You can use 100 yen coins at the payphones (domestic calling cards not accepted for international calls) just have a lot because it would be expensive.

Here's more info on phones and instructions for dialing here:

by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

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