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Telephone service

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Telephone service

By Anna on Tuesday, April 3, 2001 - 8:59 am:

It looks like signing up for "My Line" is optional, but it is causing a price war (great for consumers). However, NTT already has this thing for an extra 200 yen a month where you get 5 minutes instead of 3 minutes for Y10 in your area code. So I don' think I'll be taking advantage of these lower prices:

"Monday, April 2, 2001 TOKYO EKDDI Corp, Japan's number two telecoms firm, said on Monday it would slash its rate for a local three-minute call to match that of rival carrier Japan Telecom Co Ltd. The move underscores increasing price competition ahead of the May launch of a system called "Myline" which will allow callers to pre-register their preferred local and long-distance carriers." (etc.)

Here are the current pricing schemes to start in May as far as I can tell:
#1 NTT Y10 for three minutes
#2 KDDI Y8.5 for three minutes
Japan Telecom (DDI?) Y8.5 for three minutes
#5 Tokyo Telecommunications Network Co (TTNet) Y8.4 per three minutes

I haven't heard of anyone charging by the minute yet! Always the magical 3 minute increments. Wonder why?

By Anna on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 12:33 pm:

To find out more about the new "my line" thing that you need to choose by May 1, it appears, you can read about it at:

I think it's like in the USA where you choose your primary long distance carrier and your phone automatically uses that carrier. (This took a while -- NTT officially broke up in July 1999!)

By Mona on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 8:21 am:

--- what was that My-Line thing about at the beginning of this year?...

"My Line" is used to refer to the new semi-deprivatized telephone system under which individuals can actually choose their local telephone carrier, rather than being stuck with NTT. My Line started in May (I think), which is why there were lots of commercials for a while--the new companies were trying to get people away from NTT. People who haven't signed up with a new company automatically use NTT, the default carrier. No matter what company you're with, you've probably noticed that your phone bill has gone down over the past year or so--this is because NTT finally has competition for local call services.

NTT, by the way, was still the most expensive when I checked a few months ago, (albeit only by a few yen or so) and you can still sign up with other companies (TTNet, KDDI, etc.).

By Cornelia on Saturday, November 24, 2001 - 7:49 am:

---- I am seeking information on cheap international calls, I just received my telephone bill and still recovering from the shock ! I usually reside in Hong Kong and use One .Tel which is really cheap but it's not available in Japan. ----

I'm living in Tokyo.
I've been dialing 0088 for all my long distance domestic (just put 0088 in front of the full phone number with the area code "0" and everything). That made a difference even as close as Chiba and Yokohama.

Also several years ago I got the 200 yen per month service from NTT that allows my local area code calls and extra 2 minutes for the same 10 yen (so daytime went from 3 to 5 minute segments and night time went from 5 to 7 minute segments).

As for overseas I used call back for a few years, but for the last 3 years I have switched to and been really, really happy with AT&T Jens Corporation. To use this you call a toll free 0120 number and then it gives you a menu to go through to dial overseas and also long distance within Japan. This can be used from pay phones for the same low rates!

Both call-back and Jens require a credit card to sign up. Jens also provides internet connectivity so you can get a bit of extra service if you also get your internet service with them.

It's now called Jens ip Phone. (Formerly AT&T World Net Service)

Customer service number is (03) 3500-2400
Fax: (03) 3500-2401

Procedure: Once you have signed up with a credit card, you get a card with a toll-free number on it and a personal pin four digits long.
Example: Calls to the USA cost 14 yen? per minute any time of the day or week.
I just looked at the web site myself. Apparently they also sell pre-paid "phone cards" which you probably can buy without a credit card. I've never used one of those.

They'll answer questions about rates over the phone or by "fax back".

----Jens prepaid cards are sold in Lawson stores. It's slightly more expensive than when you register with them. --- X & N Jehanne

By SK on Saturday, November 24, 2001 - 11:15 am:

Brastel Smartphone card ( is the cheapest one I have found in Tokyo. For USA, the charge is 7 yen per min + local phone charge which will be 10 yen per 3 min. More info can be found in the website


By Karen on Thursday, February 7, 2002 - 12:56 pm:

I'd have to second SK's vouch for Brastel. It's absolutely the cheapest long distance that I can find and there's service in English.

They'll send you a package and free card if you call:

By Lynn Chen on Friday, July 26, 2002 - 4:38 pm:

Does anyone know what Yahoo BB phone is? We are applying for YahooBB ADSL service and apparently the BBphone service comes with it. What exactly is it?

By Cornelia on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 12:13 pm:

If you need to call a toll-free number in the USA you can do it using AT&T Direct.

From within Japan dial
005-39-111 or
then dial the 800 number.

I think maybe there is a charge of 20 yen for this. I was unable to match the bill with the date of my phone call exactly (becuase I had forgotten what day I called), so I'm not 100% certain.

By Anne on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 3:55 pm:

Help with junk faxes!

We have been in Japan for less than 3 months and we start now to receive unsollicited faxes in Japanese. It is very annoying as it wakes up our baby during the day and sometimes the fax rings in the middle of the night.

How can I prevent this to happend ?

Thanks for your help

By Pato on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 4:57 pm:

Dear Anne, I would try reporting this problem to the NTT toll free English helpline and see if they have any ideas: 0120-364-463

By Bethan Hutton on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 9:32 pm:

We had this problem for a while - I think our fax number was either similar to or previously used by a travel agency, so we got lots of faxes asking about European tours etc. What we did was print up our own fax message in English and Japanese saying that we were not a travel agency and please could they check the number. We faxed one back every time we got a travel fax through, and eventually they stopped.

If the faxes you are getting are just unsolicited advertising, you could try faxing back a message (in Japanese if you can get someone to do it for you) that the recipients are foreigners who don't read Japanese so please stop. It might work...

By Yuko Kubota on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 11:33 pm:

As for the ringing, your phone machine is likely to have a system where you can turn down the volume of the ringing sound or even have it not ring at all (shou-on). If there are calls you don't want to miss, phone machines usually can show numbers that called you (chakushin-rireki). For the latter system, you have to call NTT first and register to a certain system which requires a few hundred yen per month. Ask NTT for details please.

By Anne on Monday, January 26, 2004 - 9:56 am:

Subject: Call-back services
Does anyone has a list of call-back companies for international telephone calls?
I just received a 60,000 yen bill from KDDI (calls to France) and I would like to cut it at least by 1/3.

Thank you, Anne
P.S. Thanks everyone for the tips on spam faxes, I did send back a note in English and never received unsollicited faxes again since.

By Cornelia on Monday, January 26, 2004 - 10:36 am:

I stopped using "call-back" (I was signed up with Telematrix) when I realize that there were other even cheaper solutions. I've been using ATT Jens since then especially after they were able to process faxes. I've heard good things about Brastel, just haven't gotten around to making the move. Actually KDDI has special plans where you can definitely get a better price, but nothing that beats something like ATT Jens or Brastel.


Jens also has ADSL internet connection service called "Spinnet". But you use it in conjunction with NTT Flets.

I supposedly have a powerful enough computer that I can use internet telephony, but I haven't gotten around to trying to set that up yet, though I did buy a microphone...

By Christopher Green on Monday, January 26, 2004 - 12:12 pm:

I have actually operated a callback service a few years ago and have been in and out of so many overseas dialing services it's not funny. I have found the best one so far to be T1 Communications and I am in no way affiliated with them at all.

No menu's, no dialing a 25 digit code, no dialing a number first waiting for a tone (like Primus) and no putting in any PINs and it's even easier than using KDDI. They say it's not IP phone too. The only thing is you have to register the numbers you call from (which takes two days) but they can be fixed, mobile or PHS phones. Then all you do is put 0063 in front of the number you are calling without the 010 like KDDI and IWDC.
Domestic calls anywhere in Japan are 7 yen a minute and it's 15 yen to the U.S.
Definately the best thing about this is you can register your mobile or PHS phone, as I said, and phone just by dialling the prefix and number, but the rates go up if you use mobile. This means you can register your family overseas in your mobile phone by using the address book and just dial straight from the quick dial functions, instantly! If you sign up from an introduction they give you both 30 minutes free too, so you could mention me if you want. Christopher Green.

Registration and Billing details can all be done online. Cheers all.

By Nancy on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 9:17 am:

Anne, we have been using a callback service for quite some time and are very pleased. Here is the link:

We have tried other services but most were not satisfactory.
I highly recommend United World Telecom.

By Lynn Chen on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 9:50 am:

I signed up for Yahoo ADSL internet service and got the BBphone service with it. It is only 2.5yen/min to call the States. If you call within Japan to another BBphone user, the call is free. The catch is that only the phone connected to your modem is the BBphone but if you have one of the phones that has 2 extra cordless handsets, it's not a problem at all. Quality of the line is really good, but sometimes during peak time (before Xmas etc.) you might have problems getting through.

By Mina on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 3:13 pm:

Can anyone suggest convenience stores which provide facilities to accept and send international faxes?

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 3:33 pm:

Instead of convenience store, might try a Kinkos if there's one nearby. They would probably be more used to calling internationally. Can check locations at:

Or, just give it a try at the convenience store. I don't think one would particularly specialize in international calling.
FWIW, Scott

By Tina Peterson on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 8:10 pm:

You can do it from almost any convenience store that has a fax machine. Usually you have go to the checkout counter and tell them you want to use the fax machine, then they "turn it on" or something, then you dial (don't forget 010 (or whatever the number is, sorry, haven't done it in a while) to get out of Japan, then your country code, etc.), then after it goes through you get a printout which you take to the counter to pay.

Wish you luck!

By Mina on Saturday, October 2, 2004 - 8:16 pm:

Thanks Tina,

Do these convenience stores also offer the facility of calling u up, if they receive ur fax and one can go and collect the fax?

By yelena gluzman on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 12:31 am:

First, I want to say that this is the greatest website ever. I've been reading discussion after discussion with avid interest.

Regarding telephone lines: we will be moving to our new apt on March 1st. What exactly should we do to start the process of getting a phone line? I heard there were 2 diff't types of lines (with a "rights" fee and without). Also, we want to get internet access.
Thanks, Y

By Elaine Cheung on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 8:04 pm:

Hi! I just wanted to post a really good way to call the US. I don't know if this works for any other country. We bought a VOIP before we came here and signed up with
Vonage. We have a US number even though we are all the way in Japan. The number travels with you. We can call anywhere in the US and Canada for about $25 flat fee. If you set this up for your family members in other countries, you can call them too. But the only stipulation is that you need broadband or DSL (whatever high speed connection).

By Nancy on Tuesday, April 5, 2005 - 9:58 am:

Our callback provider, United World Telecom, just lowered most of their rates. The service is excellent and they are constantly adding new features. To sign up in Japan it is best to contact the local reseller.

By Nancy on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 2:29 am:

We use Callback for long distance but someone must have inadvertently dialed a long distance call direct from our home. We received an invoice from KDDI for 9 yen! It cost more to post it than the charge is worth! Even the clerk in the convenience store chuckled when I paid it. Probably costs more to process the payment than the actual payment. If we didn't pay it, I wonder how much time and effort would have been spent trying to collect 9 yen??

By Joe Larsen on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 11:01 am:

Hello, Nancy:
In my experience, they'll spend a lot more than the postage for one letter. I got a similar bill once (about 25 yen, as I recall).

I assumed they'd add it to my next bill, but they didn't. Instead they sent me two
or three notices (plus subsequent larger bills that did not include the 25 yen) and eventually they called on the phone.

After pointing out that they were either insane or very stupid, I paid, so I don't
know if they'll eventually come to your door to collect if you don't pay up. :-)

By Chris and Naomi Reynolds on Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 11:20 am:

Yes--We've received several similar to that over the years. Indeed, last year, we received one for 0 yen (I can't remember what company it was from)!! But this is Japan: the form must be followed; never mind the content! At one end of the scale, this philosophy is a neat way of keeping society and relationships running smoothly; at the other, it ends up in farcical business practices. Chuckles, giggles and even guffaws are in order!...
Happy days! ChrisR

By Nancy on Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 8:48 am:

In addition to the providers already mentioned, can anyone suggest a long distance provider that can handle faxes? We just cancelled UWT as the callback service had really deteriorated. We kept Telesys, which was our alternate. But Telesys cannot handle faxes. The explanation they have offered is that IP causes the fax to fail after connection. Any recommendations for a provider that can handle faxes would be most appreciated.

By Lea Watson on Friday, August 5, 2005 - 6:19 am:

I've used G-Call for years. I can't remember exactly but rates to N.A. are around Y10. They handle faxes with no problem.

It's not exactly a "call-back" service. You in-put your secret code then the number you want. In all of the years I've used it I've never once experienced a bad connection or problem.

Here's their link

Lea Watson

By Amanda Jones on Sunday, August 7, 2005 - 8:24 pm:

Does anyone else use Skype? It is an internet telephony service and it is great! You can call from your computer to another computer, anywhere in the world, for free as long as the other person also has the Skype software. If your computer doesn't have a microphone you might need to buy an inexpensive headset.

They also have SkypeOut which allows you to call from your computer to any telephone for about 1 Euro per hour of talk. They don't charge a fee per call, just for the actual minutes you talk.

The website is:

I use this service to talk to my family in the US for about an hour every day! There is no catch, it really is free.

NOTE: I don't work for Skype. I just wanted to share this amazing site with everyone.

By Jellund on Sunday, August 7, 2005 - 8:36 pm:

Amanda - we love Skype too! It's so nice to just be able to phone my family and chat whenever I want and for as long as I want. Apparently there is now a way of connecting to your home phone so you can use that for skype but I dont know all the details, hubby just mentioned it this afternoon.

By Cornelia on Thursday, February 2, 2006 - 6:09 pm:

I have graduated back into the outrageous NTT phone bill class since moving into our new place. It turns out that they did not transfer the TIME PLUS service that I had on my old phone. I found this out when I finally got through to their English help line at 0120-364-463.

This is how TIME PLUS works and it has been available for a few years now:
Time plus: 8.5 yen up to 5 minutes from 8:00 - 23:00 and 8.5 yen up to 8 minutes from 23:00 - 8:00
Time plus cost is Y200 / month.
(The regular charge without "Time Plus" is 8.5 yen up to 3 minutes daytime and up to 5 minutes at night.)

NEW way to save that I only found out about today (they always seem to keep this stuff top secret):
Dialing "0036" before a keitai number will give you a better rate on calling keitai numbers from your home phone line (NTT East). It depends on which keitai service you are calling (DoCoMo, Vodafone, etc) and the time of day, but maybe something around a third savings. The charges show up on your regular NTT phone bill and you don't have to do any registration. When you use "0036" it's automatic. HOWEVER, the "0036" is for NTT East people. You will need to do more research if you are in another NTT Region.

ALSO, I was advised that the NTT site now has much more information available in English than before (but I have not looked at it yet):

I like the idea of SKYPE, but I haven't been able to get around to actually implementing it. I am always afraid of trying to load anything new onto my way overloaded laptop.

By Nancy on Sunday, February 5, 2006 - 10:17 pm:

Cornelia, thanks for the great tip! I have always found that NTT East provides limited information in English on things like special promotions. When we had Hikari installed, (since that was all that was available in our area) it was very expensive, but we had no choice. We had many discussions with English speaking staff at NTT to go through all the procedures and it was by chance that one of the customer service reps told me of the special promotion that was on their Japanese website. She was kind enough to print the pages, provide some basic translation and fax it to me. At the end of the day, participating in that promotion (this required fluent Japanese)basically covered the exhorbitant installation fee. Of course, if I had not moaned about the price she may not have volunteered this it pays to complain.

By Cornelia on Friday, March 31, 2006 - 4:00 pm:

Another forums member just told me about this service privately and is using it. She says that a call cuts off automatically after 60 minutes, but you can just call again immediately. (I'm thinking where does anyone find the time to stay on the phone with one person for a whole hour...! ;-)

You need a computer, an internet connection, a microphone and headphone. The calls are completely free to about 30 or so countries and inside Japan as follows:
Free calls to any regular landline in:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria
Belgium, Bulgaria
Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cyprus
Finland, France
Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar
Hong Kong, Hungary
Iceland, Ireland, Italy
Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg
Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway
Panama, Peru, Portugal
Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden
Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey
United Kingdom, United States

I don't know about quality yet, but I want to install it because there unlimited calling to Chile (for Yamila). And it will also be good for my many calls inside Japan. Does anyone else have experience with this company and can comment on it? There is a $10 USD charge to get started apparently, because you might call one of the other countrieds where there is a fee.

By Adam on Monday, July 17, 2006 - 8:10 pm:

Jens is about to end its telephone services. With Jens, I was able to call anywhere from any telephone simply by using a code and a pin etc. So, if I happened to be in a foreign country, I could make a call without any money, simply by calling some number and inputting other numbers. Is there any comparable system I can use? Thank you,

By Dawn on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 2:14 pm:

Adam, if you have Internet access, you might try Jajah ( Calls to the U.S. from Japan cost about 3 cents per minute. It is easy to sign up online, and while it is an Internet-based telephone service in the sense that you use your computer to initiate a call, you do not need any special equipment or software, and you use your regular telephone to talk to whomever you're calling. Currently Jajah also offers free calls between Jajah users, so if you get your family and friends overseas to sign up, you can talk to them for free. We've been using Jajah for about
three months and have been very happy with the service.
Cheers, Dawn

By Cornelia on Sunday, July 23, 2006 - 10:50 pm:

Jens has been great! I use them when I come in at Narita Airport to call inside Japan (to Tokyo). Not just from home and to foreign countries. I never have to have a phone card on me, because I have the access number memorized as well as my ID and passkey... because I've been using them for quite a few years now.
I'd also be interested in finding a similar service. "Brastel" needs money added via a convenience store, but with Jens they just bill my credit card once a month. So I checked the web site and it says that the termination will be on 20 September 2006 due to a merger with Japan Telecom. Also they suggest switching to a Japan Telecom product:
"JENS ipPhone Card is no longer available.
Please purchase Japan Telecom's new card "Comica"."

Another weird Japanese trade name. How does the word "Comica" conjure telephoning? Sure, it has some of the letters contained in "communication", but doesn't anyone there realize that the root means "laughter" and "funny" to most English speakers? I'll miss Jens because they had superb support people, speaking great English!

By Cornelia on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 - 9:57 am:

Hi everyone, I've checked out the replacement options suggested by JENS, and sorry but Brastel beats everything I've found so far. If you want to check out their info (in about 10 different languages) go to

They will also send you a starter kit if you call them. Starter kits can also be found in a variety of locations such as bookstores, Indian restaurants, tourist center (sort of like picking up your free Metropolis or TNB).

Merry Christmas to all!

By Kurz on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - 9:40 am:

For those people using Hikari phone with NTT (they've signed up for Hikari fiber high speed internet and switched their phone over to IP phone as part of the package), once in a while you have to do a new firmware update upload. You do it by picking up your phone and dialing:
* * * 1 1

Then one hears a hyphenated phu phu noise during the upload to your highspeed modem. I accidentally hung up during this process, but when I re-engaged, it was still connected, so I think the data transfer communication bypasses the phone handset and is going directly to the box. You can't make any phone calls during the process, but it takes less than 5-10 minutes.

One knows that there is an update available becuase when one picks up the phone one hears several medium register beeps before getting a dial tone. Once the firmware is updated, one gets a dial tone immediately without the preceding beeps.

The biggest drawback I've found with the NTT hikari IP phone service is the inability to call numbers starting with 00. This includes the AT&T direct access numbers. Fortunately I still have a public payphone about 80 meters from my front door, and when I really need to dial an 00 number I run down there. But it is still very inconvenient.

By Tesselator on Thursday, January 31, 2008 - 3:06 pm:

Hey Kruz,

I got in on the Dec. promotion Willcom was having and got the WS011SH model. At the shop they let me play with live units of all the other smart phones they offer.

These things are pretty kewl! All of them are way better than iPhone (more features, and customizability) and some of them are free which beats the iPhone price as well. :-)

Just a tip for those reading on.

By Irishperil on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 4:48 pm:

Online phone cards have become very easy way to switch off high mobile bills. And international prepaid phone card made calling overseas cheaper. They are very popular among people who live far from home and need to regularly keep in touch with their families by phone. International phone cards have made overseas calling inexpensive.

cheap international calling cards

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