Some of the Best Apps to Use to Call Locally in Japan

It is always best to be prepared when embarking on your study abroad journey. Especially if you will be away for weeks, even months. Staying connected with family and friends back home will help you adjust to your host country. It is also important to know how to stay connected with people in Japan, especially in emergency cases when you may have to call hospitals, emergency services, KCP administration or staff, or any Japanese local number.

There are several apps you can download to call local landlines and mobile phones in Japan.

How to make a local call to landline or mobile phone in Japan

If you are using your laptop, tablet or mobile phone in Japan, chances are, you will be using a number from your country of origin unless you decide to purchase a local prepaid service in Japan.

Smart phones. | Lisa Risager

Using a U.S. call service app to dial a local Japanese number would usually entail dialing:

011 – the U.S. exit code , which needs to be dialed to make a call to Japan which is considered an international call if you’re using a U.S. number.

+81 – Japan calling code.

Area code – depending on which part of Japan you’re calling. Refer to Japan area codes for listing.

Phone number – whether landline or mobile phone. Phone numbers in Japan always have ten digits regardless of the area code’s length. Mobile phone numbers start with 090, 080, or 070 and consist of eleven digits.

i.e. (USA exit code)(Japan calling code)(area code)(phone number)

Some apps to consider using

Viber

Viber is a free internet phone call service that supports numerous devices. It is operated by Japanese multinational company, Rakuten. The app searches your contact list on your mobile device to find other Viber users which is a simple way to determine who you can connect with and call for free. Messages and videos can also be sent through Viber to any other device that has the app installed.

Viber offers a service, Viber Out, a very reasonable paid feature that allows you to make mobile and landline calls to 50 countries including Japan and the U.S. You can choose between:

Credit plan – credit is added to your balance when you purchase any amount. With your credit, you can make calls to any number in the world at Viber’s low rates, (i.e. Call anywhere, $4.99 for 166 minutes).

Monthly subscription – this is a type of plan that gives you the flexibility to make international calls to landlines and mobiles at low rates for a period of one month, (i.e. Call Japan, $2.99 for 100 minutes).

Google Voice

Google Voice is one of the leading apps used to make free internet phone calls. With this app you can make free phone calls to an actual phone number (landline and mobile phone), PC to PC calls and PC to phone on the Web, Apple, and Android devices. Google Voice is also a great app to use when managing the numbers on your contact list. The app is capable of routing incoming calls to the free phone number provided by Google Voice to any phone you may have. It also allows you to get free SMS, free conference calls, and voicemail services. Google Voice is used to communicate between your Google Voice number and other U.S. or Canada numbers.

Google Voice has integrated Google Hangouts to call domestic and international calls using an iPhone, iPad, Android and computer. When you make a call in Hangouts, your Google Voice, Project Fi, or verified phone number will show as the outbound caller ID, then simply dial the number you wish to call. You can make local calls to any landline or mobile phone in Japan by topping up your mobile phone with credits. Local rates apply when making calls using your U.S. mobile plan.

Skype

Skype is one of the top messaging service providers that specializes in providing video chat and voice calls from computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches via the Internet. To create contacts with Skype, you would need recipients to have a Skype account to be able to make free internet phone calls between several different desktop and mobile platforms.

Skype offers monthly subscriptions and credits that enables you to make international calls or any local number in Japan whether landline or mobile phone with reasonable rates. Skype plans include:

Skype Credit – consumable top-ups that enable you to make calls worldwide until you use up your allotted talk time, (i.e. $5.00 for 165 minutes).

Japan subscription – allows you to call any local mobile and landline in Japan for $6.99 a month for 300 minutes.

Skype World subscription – allows you to call any mobile or landline in 63 destinations in the world for unlimited minutes for $13.99.

LINE

LINE is a free app for instant messaging on electronic devices such as tablets, smartphones, and computers.

Landline. | looseid

The company is operated by LINE Corporation, a subsidiary of Korean company Naver Corporation. LINE allows users to exchange images, text messages, audio and video using VoIP technology. LINE also provides various services including digital wallet as LINE Pay, news streaming service as LINE Today, video on demand as LINE TV, and digital comics as LINE Manga and LINE Webtoon.

LINE also offers LINE Out to call around the globe. LINE Out Free allows you to call any local landline number in Japan for three minutes for free if you watch a short ad. If you have used up all your free you can continue to use LINE Out to call local numbers in Japan without ads using call credits or a 30-day plan with the following rates:

Call credits for calling local in Japan

Landline – $10.00 for 333 minutes at 3 cents per minute (3 Call Credits).Mobile – $10.00 for 71 minutes at 14 cents per minute (14 call credits).

30-Day Plan for calling local in Japan

Landline – 60 minutes, at 2 cents per minute.
Landline + Mobile – 120 minutes, at 6 cents per minute.

Note: Rates vary over time, please visit the official app sites for updated rates and information.