Conversational AI • Last Updated 2/26/2024

How to call Japan | In-depth guide with examples

This guide provides helpful tips for calling Japan from the U.S. Learn how to make calls to Japan with confidence.


By Emily Bowen

Connecting with Japan from the United States is vital for numerous reasons, both professional and personal.

Japan, renowned for its leading-edge sectors such as technology, automotive, and electronics—along with its rich cultural traditions and culinary arts—offers ample opportunities for international business and personal engagements.

Understanding the nuances of engaging with this dynamic East Asian country is key to nurturing these connections.

Understanding Japan’s calling codes

To call Japan, it's important to understand the structure of international phone numbers. Japan's country code is +81. The dialing method varies for mobile and landline numbers.

For mobile numbers, omit the initial 0 when calling from abroad, and proceed with the country code followed by the mobile number. For landlines, include the area code right after the country code, then the local number.

Guide to calling Japan

Before dialing, ensure you're aware of the rates charged by your carrier for international calls to Japan. You should also make sure your connection is reliable to avoid any issues caused by latency or choppy voice transmission.

1. Check the time in Japan

Considering the time difference is important when calling Japan. Japan operates on Japan Standard Time (JST), which is GMT+9, placing Japan 13–16 hours ahead of the U.S., depending on your specific time zone. It's recommended to check the local time in Japan to ensure your call is timed appropriately.

2. Dial the exit code

The U.S. exit code is 011. This code signals that you are making an international call.

3. Enter Japan's country code

Next, dial Japan's country code, +81, to connect your call to Japan.

4. Dial the area code and local number

Start with 011, then add 81, Japan's country code.

For a landline

Dial the area code for the specific region in Japan you're calling (which can be one to five digits), followed by the local number, which can vary in length.

For example, to call a landline in Tokyo with the area code 3 and the local number 1234-5678, you would dial 011-81-3-1234-5678.

For a mobile phone

Directly dial the mobile number following the country code, without a 0 prefix or an area code.

For instance, to call a Japanese mobile number like 090-1234-5678, the correct sequence would be 011-81-90-1234-5678.

5. Tips for a successful call

Before placing a call to Japan, ensure you have a strong connection to avoid dropped calls. However, it’s still important to have a plan in case of technical issues. For instance, if the call drops, know whether to call back or wait for the other party to call you.

Having an understanding of and respect for Japanese business culture and etiquette is also critical. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • While "moshi moshi" is commonly used when answering the phone, stick with more formal greetings such as "good morning" or, "good afternoon" in English when making a business call.
  • Use the person’s title and last name (e.g., Tanaka-san) instead of first names unless you're invited to do otherwise.
  • Respect privacy by avoiding personal questions or topics that might be considered too intrusive, especially during initial interactions.

Finally, as with calling any country, it’s important to be patient and flexible, as the pace of business might differ from what you're used to in the U.S..

Considerations for Japan

Calls to Japan, like any international destination, can be influenced by various factors. Here's an overview of the key elements that could affect your calls, including language, time differences, and other considerations:

Language and culture

Japan is celebrated for its profound linguistic and cultural diversity, with Japanese being the predominant language spoken throughout the archipelago. Common Japanese greetings include:

  • Konnichiwa—A universal greeting that’s widely recognized across the country, typically used during the daytime.
  • Ohayō gozaimasu or Konbanwa—Time-specific greetings for morning and evening, respectively.
  • Ogenki desu ka?—A polite way to initiate a conversation by asking, "How are you?"

Beyond Japanese, the country is also home to various regional dialects and languages that enrich its cultural tapestry. The Ryukyuan languages, for instance, spoken in Okinawa and parts of the Ryukyu Islands, offer distinct greetings and expressions, reflecting the diverse linguistic heritage of Japan.

In Okinawan, for example, "Haisai" is a casual greeting similar to "Hello," and "Uchinaaguchi." The Okinawan language has its own way of asking, "How are you?" with phrases like, "Ganjuu sabira?" These regional languages and dialects, alongside Japanese, showcase the intricate linguistic mosaic of Japan, mirroring its deep historical layers and rich cultural traditions.

Time zones

Timing is crucial when making international calls. Japan uses Japan Standard Time (JST). Here's a quick guide to the time difference:

U.S. time zonesJapan
Eastern (ET)14 hours ahead
Central (CT)15 hours ahead
Mountain (MT)16 hours ahead
Pacific (PT)17 hours ahead

How much does it cost to call Japan?

Call charges to Japan can vary based on your carrier, the duration of the call, and the time of day. Check with your service provider for detailed rates.

Carrier rates are particularly important as they vary significantly among different service providers and can fluctuate based on your chosen plan.

It's advisable to thoroughly review your carrier's pricing schemes and any available packages for international calls to ensure you’re choosing the most economical option available.

The length of your call is also a major determinant of the overall cost, with extended calls incurring greater charges.

The timing of your call also impacts the cost, with variable rates for peak and off-peak hours. Calls made during peak hours are generally costlier than those made in off-peak times, such as late at night or on weekends, depending on the pricing policy of your provider.

Being mindful of these aspects and planning your calls with care can help manage your communication expenses effectively while keeping in touch with contacts in Japan.

Make affordable calls to Japan with Telnyx

With these tips and recommendations, you're ready to call Japan with confidence.

If you’re looking for more guidance on global calling, Telnyx’s team of experts can help you navigate the complexities of international communication.

Telnyx is a next-gen communications platform that offers a global private IP network, multi-cloud redundancy, and carrier-grade services. Our elastic SIP trunking services make it easy to call nearly every country in the world. We also offer support and guidance to help you grow and scale your business.

With competitive pricing and a wide variety of local phone numbers in over 140 countries, Telnyx provides cost-effective calling solutions with unmatched expertise.

Contact our experts today to learn how we can help your business communicate effectively with contacts in Japan and 140+ other countries.

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