[Basic Knowledge] Public phone in Japan / Available all over Japan


Hello ! My name is shinta, Japanese blog writer, born and raised in Japan. I’m introducing real Japanese culture, from Japan to the world.

This page may assist who want

  • to get basic knowledge about Public phone in Japan
  • to study history of Public phone in Japan
  • to know circumstances around Public phone in current Japanese society

In this page, I would like to make brief explanation about public phone in Japan.

You may get knowledge about public phone in Japan , after reading of this article. Have fun !

What is Public Phone

Koshu Denwa is public phone in Japan. There are approximately 150,000 of Koshu Denwa placed in Japan. Based on Japanese law, Public Phone should be placed in each of 25,000 ㎡ in city area and 1 ㎢ in county area. The color of Public Phone is generally green or gray, rarely pink or yellow. To make a call with Public Phone, coin of ¥10 or ¥100, magnetic card ‘Telephone card’ is required.

Basic knowledge of ’Public Phone’

  • Koshu Denwa = Public phone in Japan
  • Approximately 150,000 of Public Phone are placed
  • Generally green and gray, rarely pink or yellow
  • Coin of ¥10 or ¥100, Magnetic card ‘Telephone card’ is required to make a call with Public Phone

History of Public Phone

In 1890, first Public Phone was placed in Tokyo and Yokohama. Initially, it was in telephone office, then placed in public spaces like train station. In 1960-70’s, number of Public Phone was drastically increased. In peak time, in 1980’s, there were more than 900,000 of Public Phone in Japan. In 21st century, the number of Public Phone is significantly decreased, due to spreading of mobile phones.

History of ‘Public Phone’

  • 1890 first Public Phone was placed in Tokyo and Yokohama
  • 1930’s Number of Public Phone became 10,000
  • 1960-70’s Placement drastically increased
  • 1980’s Peak time, more than 900,000 of Public Phone placed
  • 21st century Placement significantly decreased

More information about Public Phone

Some people in younger generation, ‘Digital native’ don’t know how to use Public Phone. With spreading of mobile phones, number of Public Phone became approximately 1/6 from the peak time. However, Public Phone still have very important role. In case of disaster, like earthquake, typhoon, Public Phone is opened as priority line, while normal communication line will be restricted. So Public Phone might not be zero, for a while.

More information about ‘Public Phone’

  • Some of younger generation don’t know how to use Public Phone
  • Public Phone still have important role in Japanese society
  • In the disaster, the line of Public Phone is prioritized
  • To control data traffic, Public Phone is essential in the disaster


In the end, I would like to summarize the points of this article as follows


We still see public phone in various places in Japan

What is Public Phone in Japan

  • Green or Gray, rarely Pink color, 150,000 public phones in Japan
  • First public phone was placed in 1890, in Japan
  • In the disaster, the line of public phone is prioritized

Thank you very much for your reading and see you again !


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