Akasaka Azabu

How to answer the phone in Japan
  • Date Published: April 29, 2024

The rules of etiquette for answering the phone in Japan are distinct and essential to know, whether the call is informal with friends or a formal business conversation. Understanding the appropriate phrases and manners is paramount. This guide equips you with the necessary advice and language required when receiving a phone call in Japan.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the use of “Moshi Moshi” in casual phone conversations
  • Using appropriate phrases for professional phone calls
  • Practicing phone etiquette in public spaces
  • Handling different phone call situations
  • Ending a phone call with the right phrases

In Japan, phone etiquette is highly valued, and following the customs and norms can help you build strong professional relationships. Let’s explore the different aspects of Japanese phone etiquette and learn how to navigate phone conversations with confidence.

Understanding the Use of “Moshi Moshi”

When it comes to answering the phone in Japan, understanding the appropriate greetings and phrases is essential for practicing proper phone etiquette. One commonly used phrase is “Moshi Moshi,” which is typically used in casual conversations with friends and family. While it may seem natural to use “Moshi Moshi” in all phone conversations, it’s important to note that in professional settings, a more polite greeting is expected. Instead of “Moshi Moshi,” using “Hai” as a polite response when answering the phone is more appropriate.

Knowing when and how to use these greetings is crucial to navigating Japanese phone conversation customs. “Moshi Moshi” is a warm, friendly expression and is best reserved for informal calls. On the other hand, “Hai” signifies attentiveness and respect, making it suitable for professional interactions. Adapting to the appropriate greeting based on the context ensures that you convey the right tone and level of formality during phone conversations.

Understanding the significance of “Moshi Moshi” and “Hai” in different phone call scenarios is a key aspect of Japanese phone etiquette. Respecting cultural norms and utilizing polite greetings contributes to effective communication and building positive relationships.

For a visual representation of the importance of using the correct greetings, refer to the table below:

Type of Call Appropriate Greeting
Casual call with friends or family “Moshi Moshi”
Professional call or business conversation “Hai”

By mastering the proper greetings and phrases for answering the phone in Japan, you can demonstrate your understanding of Japanese phone conversation customs and showcase your respect for Japanese culture. Remember, a simple shift in the way you answer the phone can make a significant difference in the impression you leave on the caller.

Phrases for Professional Phone Calls

When receiving a professional phone call in Japan, it is essential to adhere to the cultural norms and use appropriate phone call manners. Instead of greeting the caller with a casual “Moshi Moshi,” it is more suitable to introduce yourself or your company using phrases such as “Hai, John desu” or “Hai, Coto Japanese Academy desu.” These phrases convey professionalism and respect for the business conversation.

Additionally, incorporating polite expressions of gratitude or acknowledgment can enhance the interaction. When expressing gratitude to the caller for their support or assistance, phrases like “Odenwa arigatou gozaimasu” or “Otsukare sama desu” can be used respectfully.

Using these phrases not only showcases your knowledge of phone etiquette for foreigners in Japan but also fosters a positive impression and builds rapport with the caller.

Phrases for Professional Phone Calls Translation
Hai, John desu Yes, this is John
Hai, Coto Japanese Academy desu Yes, this is Coto Japanese Academy
Odenwa arigatou gozaimasu Thank you for the call
Otsukare sama desu Thank you for your hard work

Mastering the appropriate phrases for professional phone calls is crucial for effective communication in Japan. By utilizing these phrases, you demonstrate respect and professionalism, contributing to successful business interactions.

Phone Etiquette in Public Spaces

In Japan, adhering to proper phone etiquette in public spaces is highly valued. It is considered impolite to engage in private conversations on your cell phone in indoor areas such as coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and waiting rooms. The Japanese culture emphasizes the importance of maintaining a peaceful and respectful environment for everyone.

When using your phone in public, it is crucial to keep your conversations quiet and discreet, avoiding any disruptions to those around you. Remember to be mindful of your surroundings and the potential impact your actions may have on others. Respecting their need for a quiet and tranquil environment is essential.

Additionally, it is courteous to keep the ringer on your phone turned off or set to a low volume. This ensures that incoming calls do not disturb those nearby. Consider using the vibration mode or silent mode to receive notifications without causing any disruptions.

Furthermore, it is important to refrain from watching videos or playing games with sound in public places. Use headphones if you need to listen to audio content, ensuring that it does not disturb those around you.

Practicing proper phone etiquette in public spaces is a part of Japanese business phone etiquette and reflects an individual’s respect for others. By being considerate and mindful of your surroundings, you contribute to creating a harmonious environment for everyone.

Do’s Don’ts
Keep conversations quiet and discreet Avoid engaging in private conversations
Turn off ringer or set it to a low volume Allow your phone to ring loudly or disturb others
Use headphones if listening to audio Watch videos or play games with sound
Be mindful of your surroundings Disrupt the peaceful environment

Handling Different Phone Call Situations

During a phone call in Japan, various situations can arise that require specific handling. It’s essential to be prepared and know how to address redirected calls, putting a caller on hold, and dealing with a bad connection.

Redirected Calls

When a call needs to be redirected to someone else, it’s important to use the appropriate phrases to inform the caller and maintain professionalism. You can say “Kashikomarimashita, shoushou omachikudasaimase” to let the caller know that you will put them on hold momentarily.

Putting a Caller on Hold

Putting a caller on hold is a common practice during phone conversations. When putting someone on hold, it’s polite to use phrases like “Shoushou omachikudasaimase,” which means “Please wait a moment.” This conveys your acknowledgement of the caller’s request.

Dealing with a Bad Connection

In the event of a bad connection, it’s important to address the issue politely and professionally. You can say “Sumimasen, kikokoemasu ka?” which means “I’m sorry, can you hear me?” or “Osoresaimasu, odenwa ga tooi you desu,” which translates to “I apologize, the phone connection seems to be distant.”

By being prepared for these different phone call situations, you can navigate conversations smoothly and demonstrate respectful communication in Japan.

Continue reading to learn about the proper etiquette for ending a phone call in Japan.

Ending the Phone Call

When it comes to ending a phone call in Japan, it is important to be mindful of the level of formality and use the appropriate phrases. Politeness and respect are highly valued in Japanese culture, even in phone conversations. Here are some polite ways to end a phone conversation in Japan:

  • “Mata ne!” – This phrase can be used in casual conversations with friends to say goodbye. It conveys a sense of “See you later!” or “Until next time!”
  • “Ato de ne!” – Similar to “Mata ne!”, this phrase is commonly used in casual settings when ending a phone call with friends. It means something like “Talk to you later!”
  • “Shitsurei shimasu” – In more formal settings, it is polite to use this phrase to excuse yourself from the call. It can be translated as “Excuse me for leaving” or “I apologize for ending the conversation.”

Understanding and using these appropriate phrases will leave a positive impression on the caller and show your respect for Japanese etiquette. Whether you are speaking with friends or in a more formal setting, ending the phone call politely is important for building and maintaining relationships.


To master phone etiquette in Japan and effectively navigate phone conversations, it is important to understand and practice the proper greetings, phrases, and manners. By following the guidelines of this Japanese phone etiquette guide, you will be well-equipped to communicate with confidence and professionalism.

Remember to be mindful of your surroundings, especially in public spaces. Keeping noise to a minimum shows respect for those around you and aligns with the cultural norms of Japan. Silence your phone’s ringer and avoid watching videos or playing games with sound while in public.

Additionally, knowing how to handle different phone call situations is crucial. Whether it’s redirecting calls, putting a caller on hold, or dealing with a bad connection, being prepared with the appropriate phrases will help you navigate these situations smoothly.

With a strong understanding of Japanese phone etiquette and the ability to adapt to different situations, you will be able to build professional relationships and effectively communicate in phone conversations in Japan. Remember, effective communication is key to success in both personal and professional endeavors.


How do you answer the phone in Japan?

In Japan, it is common to answer the phone by saying “Moshi Moshi” for casual calls, and “Hai” for more formal or professional calls.

When should I use “Moshi Moshi” and “Hai” when answering the phone in Japan?

“Moshi Moshi” is typically used for casual conversations with friends and family, while “Hai” is more appropriate for professional calls.

What phrases should I use for professional phone calls in Japan?

It is polite to introduce yourself or your company by saying phrases like “Hai, [Your Name] desu” or “Hai, [Company Name] desu.” Additionally, you can use phrases like “Odenwa arigatou gozaimasu” or “Otsukare sama desu” to thank or acknowledge the caller.

What is the phone etiquette in public spaces in Japan?

In Japan, it is considered impolite to have a private conversation on a cell phone in public spaces. It is important to keep phone conversations quiet and respectful of others. Ringers should be turned off, and watching videos or playing games with sound should be avoided in public.

How should I handle different situations during a phone call in Japan?

If a call needs to be redirected or put on hold, you can use phrases like “Kashikomarimashita, shoushou omachikudasaimase.” In case of a bad connection, phrases like “Sumimasen, kikokoemasu ka” or “Osoresaimasu, odenwa ga tooi you desu” can be used.

How do I end a phone call in Japan?

Casual conversations with friends can be ended with phrases like “Mata ne!” or “Ato de ne!” In more formal settings, you can use phrases like “Shitsurei shimasu” to politely excuse yourself from the call.

What should I keep in mind when answering the phone in Japan?

It is important to be mindful of your surroundings, minimize noise in public spaces, use appropriate phrases for different situations, and practice proper phone etiquette to effectively communicate and build professional relationships in Japan.

Ready to Discover Your Dream Property in Japan? Connect with Us!

Captivated by the allure of Japan's luxury real estate? If you're contemplating an investment or simply wish to explore your options, AkasakaAzabu.com is your ideal partner. Our dedicated team, fluent in over 10 languages, is committed to providing you with tailored guidance and expert advice.

Get in Touch with Us Now to embark on your journey towards finding the perfect luxury property in Japan. From exclusive urban residences to serene countryside estates, our extensive collection and multicultural expertise are at your service.

Compare Listings