Despite an increasing number of mobile phone users among the elderly in Japan, research in media studies has focused exclusively on adolescents or children.By analyzing a nationwide survey conducted in 2011, this exploratory study examined the barriers against ownership, uses and gratifications, and functional alternatives of mobile phone use among elderly Japanese. The results show that the mobile phone can fortify a digital divide among the elderly. Furthermore, elderly people mainly use the mobile phone for family communication, not as multi-media. Additionally, mobile phone owners use the home telephone and the Internet more than non-owners. This article also discusses and proposes how we can better understand media use by the elderly in future research.