For phone phreak
s interested in Japan's phone network, here are some more tidbit
The first telecommunications service in Japan was a state-run telegraph link between Tokyo and Yokohama, completed in 1869. Telephone service between the two cities was first available in 1890, and the network was extended to Osaka in 1899. NTT was founded in 1952 as a parastatal corporation to oversee Japan's growing telecom networks, and brought many new technologies into the Japanese marketplace: pagers ("pocket bell"s) in 1968, car phones in 1979, the ubiquitous green phones (see below) in 1982, cellular phones in 1985, and the much-envied i-mode service in 1999.
NTT installed its first digital switches, the D70 model, in 1980, and had eliminated all of their crossbar switches by 1995 and all their ESS switches by 1997. Many of these older switches are now in service in Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and other countries where NTT has invested heavily in telecom infrastructure.
There are two basic kinds of pay phones in Japan: "green phones" and "gray phones." Green phones are more common, and about as simple to use as American pay phones: the only operational difference is that they take phone cards as well. Gray phones are much cooler: they actually have ISDN hookups, so if you want to you can hook up your laptop with ISDN modem to the phone's data port and surf the web (although, at ¥10 a minute, you won't want to do it for long). There are more buttons to play with, but on most phones you can get an English display to guide you through using the phone.
Japanese phone cards are available everywhere: you can get them out of vending machines, or from kiosks in train stations. They come in varying denominations: the most popular is a ¥1000 card, which is good for 105 "call units" (domestic minutes: calling the US or Europe will eat 10 call units a minute). Higher denomination cards are available but slightly more difficult to find. To use a card, you just insert it into the appropriate slot on the phone, place your call, and take the card back after you hang up: simple.
Getting home phone service in Japan is sickeningly expensive. NTT charges a ¥72,000 subscription fee when you sign up for home service! That's right, you're paying over $600 just to get phone service hooked up! In addition to this, you'll be paying ¥2,000 or so to maintain phone service, and an ADDITIONAL ¥8.5 a minute for local calls during the day! Any American who thinks their phone service is expensive should try moving to Japan.
Anyway, no discussion of NTT's phone network would be complete without an area code directory. All Japanese phone numbers are ten digits, including the area code (unless you're dialing from overseas, when you have to omit the first zero). So, in Tokyo and Osaka, phone numbers are eight digits long. In most other cities, they're seven digits. In places like Narita and Nara, where the area code is four digits, phone numbers are only six digits. And so on. (In Mombetsu, the area code is five digits, and phone numbers are also five digits. Figure that one out.) Anyway, here goes:
0120 Freedial service (similar to 800 numbers in the US)
090 Reserved for PHS service
If you're familiar with the geography of Japan, you'll note that, for the most part, the area code increases as you move from northeast to southwest. Clever, huh?
www.ntt.co.jp, english.townpage.isp.ntt.co.jp (an excellent site in its own right), www.ntt-east.co.jp