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Using Japanese Rotary Phones, and Other Vintage WE Phones in Japan with NTT

Started by Ryan Foster, April 05, 2018, 10:57:19 AM

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Ryan Foster

    When the Wife and I came back to Japan last year, we made sure to bring some quality Western Electric phones with us to use at the house. We had found a nice avocado green WE-2500 from 1974 that looks like it came off of the desk of Dr. Kelly Bracket or Oscar Goldman. We also brought the refurbished WE-302 from 1940 along too. We packed them in our bags for the flight knowing it was not likely the airline could break them. Later, on a trip to Akihabara, we found a 600-A2 Japanese phone from 1978 as well that makes a really nice sound when it rings.

     We contacted NTT and they came by to install the land line as the old house had not had one in about 10 years. Land lines are good here in case of earthquake or giant monster attack as the cell system is more fragile. Also, our Tokyo address pops up on the dispatch computer for taxis and emergency services. The NTT installer asked us which phone we wanted to use and, not thinking much about it, we picked the rotary Japanese 600-A2. He then installed a brand new line to the tangle of wires on the pole out at the street, and tested the vintage Japanese phone. He seemed to have a fun time working with the old phone and complemented the unit as very rugged. Later, a Japanese friend came by and chatted with him in more detail. As it turns out we can make outgoing calls with rotary dials only unless we pay $25 extra install fee for touch-tone only service. Also, no international calls seem to work. It seemed best just to roll with it, one upside being that the WE-302 with the old H4 dial works just fine on the Japanese network. We were also very happy that the phone ringing can be heard out in the yard, upstairs, and out by the street, something cell phones and cheap modern phones can't do as well. Also, NTT will let your phone ring for a crazy long amount of time for incoming calls. We gave up after a minute or so not wanting to bother the neighbors.

     Does anyone know who made this Japanese 600-A2 Phone? I was not able to figure it out from the markings. The whole deal with the network was also strange. Did the old Bell System used to restrict you to using either touch-tone or pulse dialing other than by renting you one type of phone or the other? Both seem to work just fine on land line networks in Texas. Also, when did the Bell System and the Baby Bells stop letting your phone ring a reasonable long amount of time before automatically telling you your party was not there?