How to Speak Japanese

How to Make a Phone Call in Japanese

A Man Making a Phone Call

Have you ever made a phone call in Japanese? If you have, you may have experienced difficulty at the time because there are some phrases which you only hear on the phone. In this article, you will learn how to make a phone call in Japanese, with vocabulary and practical examples.

Complete Guide for Making a Phone Call in Japanese


First, let’s learn some vocabulary related to making a phone call.

でん番号ばんごう phone number
連絡先れんらくさき contact number
定電ていでん landline
携帯けいたい mobile phone
スマートフォン smartphone
ちがでん wrong number
でんする、でんをかける、でんらす  to call, to ring
でん  The phone is ringing
でん reception
 圏外けんがい  no service, out of range
 電源でんげんはいっていない  a mobile phone is off
 スピーカー  speakerphone
 もしもし  hello, are you there?
 りゅうにする  to put the call on hold
 かえ  to call ~~ back
 でんつな  to put through
 でんをとる  to pick up a call
 でん  to answer a call
 でん  to hang up
 でんれる  to be cut off
 留守るすばんでん  answering machine
 ごとでん  business call
 ようでん  personal call
 つうちゅう  busy, engaged
 国番号くにばんごう  country code
 外線がいせん  outside line
 内線ないせん  extension

Practical Examples for Four Common Situations to Make a Phone Call

The best way to make a phone call in Japanese depends on the situation, such as a personal call or a business call. In either case, there are certain set phrases. Now, let’s learn them with four common situations. After learning them, hopefully you will consider making a phone call in Japanese easy work.

Calling Your Friends

A Woman Calling to a Friend

岩村いわむら: もしもし、ひさしぶり。げん
Hey, it’s been a while. How have you been?
松本まつもと: まあまあかな。どうしたの?
Not too bad. What’s up?
Actually, I will be getting married this coming summer, and I have been wondering if you (Matsumoto) would like to come to the wedding.
松本まつもと: おお、おめでとう。うん、絶対ぜったいくよ。
Oh, congratulations! Yes, I will definitely go.
Thanks. Then I will send you an invitation.
Okay. I’m looking forward to the day. Bye for now.
Okay, good bye.

We usually make small talk or give our greetings before moving to the main topics. The example above is for when you make a phone call to a friend for the first time in a while. Therefore, he started the call with 「ひさしぶり」. If it has been a very long time, you could start the call with the phrase 「だれかわかる? (Do you remember me?) 」. This may sound a little formal, but can often be heard. We can also start a call like this: 「いまでんだいじょう? (Can you talk now?)」 or 「いまなにしているの? (What are you doing now?)」. They are common phrases on the phone. Since talking with a friend doesn’t require any formality, just try to convey what you want to say after making small talk.

Making a Reservation


Thank you for calling. This is Matsumoto Restaurant.
Excuse me, I would like to make a reservation for four people, tomorrow at 8:00 PM.
Thank you. I will confirm our availability. Hold on please.
Thank you. (Lit. Yes, please)  
Thank you for waiting. We have available seats. We will reserve four seats for you, tomorrow at 8:00 PM. Is this correct?
That’s right.
All right, may I have your name and contact number?
Sure, my name is Iwamura and my phone number is 090-4534-8459.
Thank you for your reservation, Mr. Iwamura. We will see you tomorrow at 8:00 PM.
Thank you. Good bye.

In general, a person from a restaurant or any other type of establishment will start talking first, and then you will make your request without any small talk. It may be more polite if you give your name at the beginning, however, most native speakers usually don’t do that until they are asked. Unlike talking with a friend, you need to be a little more formal, so you should use 「すみません」 instead of 「もしもし」 and 「失礼しつれいします」 instead of 「じゃあね」or 「ばいばい」. This may sound more difficult than the above, but don’t worry! If you can say the phrase 「やくをおねがいしたいのですが。 (I would like to make a reservation)」, restaurants will ask you the necessary information and your reservation will be made smoothly.

Business: Calling a Client on a Cell Phone

A business man calling to someone

Hello. This is Iwamura from Wasabi, Inc.
Hello. Matsumoto speaking.
Mr. Matsumoto, may I talk to you for a minute?
We are supposed to have a meeting tomorrow at 10:00 AM. I’m sorry to trouble you, but, is it possible to start the meeting one hour later, at 11:00? Something just came up.
That’s no problem. So, tomorrow at 11:00, right?
Thank you for your understanding. Yes, 11:00.
Alright, I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.
As do I. Good bye.

In business situations, 「お世話せわになります」 should be used instead of 「もしもし」, although you can still use 「もしもし」 like “Can you hear me?” or “Are you still there?” when your reception is poor. The literal translation of 「お世話せわになります」 is something like “we appreciate your help”, but it is used as a greeting at the beginning of a phone call. You should use 「いますこしおはなよろしいでしょうか?」in order to be formal. After that, you can have a normal conversation, but you should try to state your main point clearly. 「よろしくおねがいします」 is a Japanese idiom which English doesn’t have an equivalent to. We will discuss it in detail next time. For now, you can just think of it as a greeting phrase.  

Business: Calling a Client on their Landline



Thank you for calling. This is Dan, LCC.
Hello. This is Iwamura from Wasabi, Inc. Excuse me, but may I talk with Ms. Yokoyama please?
Certainly. I will put you through to Yokoyama. Hold on please.
Hello, Yokoyama speaking.
Hello, this is Iwamura from Wasabi, Inc.

Similar to calling a restaurant, a receptionist will start talking first, and then you should inform him or her of your organization’s name, your name, and your business clearly. Unless you try to make a cold call, the receptionist will quickly put you through. 「おでんわりました」 is another important phrase. In formal siuations, when someone is put through to you or somebody hands the phone over to you, you need to say this phrase, which is like “Iwamura speaking”.  


As technology advances and new communication tools are developed, our methods of communication may be changed. However, what we have covered here are very basic situations that will likely exist for many years. If it is difficult to memorize all of them, you can always return to this article. We hope this will be helpful for you.

Recommended Links

Complete Explanation; What Does よろしく Mean?

Complete Explanation: What Does おつかれさま Mean?

How to Measure Length, Weight and Area in Japanese

How to Write Emails in Japanese (with Practical Examples)

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