Here’s How You Should Make Phone Calls in the Office in Japan

There are many things to consider when making phone calls.

Photo Pakutaso

Making phone calls may seem like a basic skill to most people, but things become drastically different once you change the cultural setting. In Japan, there are certain customs and traditions that need to be followed even when making phone calls—especially in the business setting.

Now that you already know how to properly answer a phone call in the business setting
 in Japan, another daunting task foreigners and some local Japanese folks have to master is the proper way of making phone calls in the business setting. There are many things to consider when doing phone calls, and it must be properly executed in a disciplined country like Japan. In this article, we will introduce basic patterns and guidelines in Japanese to help you overcome the hurdles of making a phone call in the business setting.

Things to remember:

Before we get into memorizing the appropriate lines in making a phone call, we must understand the basics of making a phone call. 

1. Always have a pen and paper in hand.
2. Make sure to have an outline of the things you want to ask or say beforehand to make the call as smooth as possible. You should do the proper research. There is a chance there are better ways to contact a company, or maybe there is no need to make a call at all.
3. The timing of the call is important. Make sure to call during the appropriate times of the day. This would mean avoiding calling first thing in the morning, during lunch hours, and right before and after the end of business hours.
4. Always use the polite form of speaking.
5. Carry the conversation with a cheerful voice.
6. Lastly, you should hang up quietly. As a rule of thumb, the caller should be the first one to hang up. However, in situations where the caller is speaking to a person of high status, the caller should wait for the other party to hang up first.

To keep things short, when approaching another company through a phone call, remember that you are taking up some of their valuable time, so you should make it as fast and smooth as possible. Thus, it should be done precisely and politely. In the business setting, remember that phone calls are a way to build rapport with the other party. 

This would mean that phone calls are done in
keigo (polite form of Japanese). Conversations between vendors and clients cannot be done in a casual way, for it is improper and goes against business etiquette. For this, you must have an understanding of sonkeigo and kenjougo (respectful and humble forms of keigo) to be able to properly hold a conversation over the phone. Here, we give common phrases to remember when making a phone call. 


1. Introducing yourself:

Watakushi wa (company name) no (division name) bu no (your name) degozaimasu.

This is (company name), (division name), (your name) speaking. 

O sewa ni natte orimasu.

*Even if you are calling for the first time, this phrase is said for the purpose of presenting yourself well to the other party. 

Thank you for taking care of us.

2. Basic lines:

Kashikomarimashita. or


I understand. 

Shoushou omachi kudasai.

Please wait a moment. 

Hai or Ee

*Saying hai hai is considered rude, so keep it simple and polite by saying it once. 


Sumimasen ga, okoe ga sukoshi tooi no desuga, ….

I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you properly. 

Sumimasen ga, mou sukoshi yukkuri onegai dekimasu deshouka?

I’m sorry, but can you please speak slowly? 

3. When asking for a call transfer:

(Person in charge) sama wa irasshaimasuka? 

Is (person in charge) available?

(Extension line number) ni otsunagi itadakemasu deshou ka?

Please connect me to extension (extension line number). 

(Purpose of the call) ni tsuite oukagai shitai koto ga arimashite, tantou no kata ni otsunagi itadakemasu deshouka? 

I called about (purpose of call), may you please connect me to the person in charge? 

4. When the person in charge is available:

O isogashii tokoro, moushi wake gozaimasen 

I apologize for calling you during this busy time.

Ima ohanashi shite yoroshii deshouka? 

Are you available to speak to at the moment? 

(Purpose of the call) no ken de o denwa shita no desu ga...

I called about (purpose of call)...

(Purpose of the call) ni tsuite oukagai shitai koto ga arimasu ga...

I have a question about (purpose of call)... 

5. When the person in charge is unavailable:

Nanji goro o modori no yotei deshou ka?

What time will they return?

Sore dewa, nochi hodo kochira kara kakenaoshimasu. 

In that case, I will call again later. 

Osore irimasuga, dengon wo onegai dekimasu deshouka?

I’m sorry, but may I ask you to pass on a message? 

Okaeri ni naru koro, mata odenwa itashimasu.

I will call again when they return. 

Okaeri ni narimashitara, odenwa kudasaru you otsutae kudasai.

When they return, please tell them to return the call. 

Watakushi no denwa bango wa ??-???-???? desu.

My phone number is ??-???-????. 

6. When closing the conversation: 

O isogashii tokoro, arigatou gozaimashita.

Loosely translated as: Thank you for giving me the time despite your busy schedule. 

Shitsurei itashimasu. 

(Formal) Good bye. 

Learning a new language is a skill to master in itself but making phone calls in that language is a different skill even native speakers struggle to master. Japanese office workers usually spend their first year learning how to answer and receive phone calls properly because phone conversations are usually not done in just conversational Japanese. If native speakers get worried about making mistakes on their first try, there’s no shame in being worried, too. It’ll take some practice to get it right, but don’t be scared to ask for help when you need to. Your co-workers will be more than willing to help!

Note: There are countless ways to express and convey things over the phone, this list serves as a basic guide only for phone calls. 

 (28 August 2019)

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