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Date, Time, Currency Rate
Japan:
Wednesday, Jul 15, 2020, 12:24 AM
Central USA:
Tuesday, Jul 14, 2020, 10:24 AM
Currency: 1 USD = 107.4 JPY

Japan Days

My Days in Japan

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Welcome to Japan-Days.info

On this web site, I will share with you some stories and pictures from the time when I lived in Japan as a member of the United States Air Force, and from various visits that my wife, Ritsuko, and I have made there since my departure from the military in 1978. I will add content to the site periodically in the "Articles" section, so please visit often. I hope that you enjoy the site.

News Feeds

News feed source: Japan Today
Japan Today
Japan News and Discussion

Asia shares drop on jitters over virus, China-U.S. friction
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 06:59:36 +0000

Shares fell in Asia on Tuesday as skepticism set in about the recent upward momentum in global markets given rising confirmed coronavirus cases and percolating tensions between the…
Tokyo reports 143 coronavirus cases; below 200 for 2nd day in a row
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 07:05:08 +0000

Tokyo on Tuesday confirmed 143 new coronavirus infections, remaining below 200 for the second day in a row, Gov. Yuriko Koike said. The figure comes a day after…
Mystery as Argentine sailors infected with virus after 35 days at sea
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 05:39:42 +0000

Argentina is trying to solve a medical mystery after 57 sailors were infected with the coronavirus after 35 days at sea, despite the entire crew testing negative before…
Cabinet OKs ¥2.2 bil aid for flood-hit regions; ¥400 bil package to follow
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 07:03:13 +0000

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet decided Tuesday to use 2.2 billion yen from Japan's reserve funds for fiscal 2020 to support areas hit hard by torrential rain and…
Tokyo health officials ask over 800 theatergoers to get tested for coronavirus
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 07:04:03 +0000

Tokyo health officials appealed on Tuesday for more than 800 theatergoers to get tested for the coronavirus after a production starring Japanese boy-band members was found to be…
Australia tightens restrictions as COVID-19 cases top 10,000
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 07:01:46 +0000

Australian states on Tuesday tightened restrictions on movement as authorities struggle to contain a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 in the country's southeast that has pushed the national tally…
Japan defense review slams China's virus 'disinformation'
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 07:03:47 +0000

China has been spreading "disinformation" about the coronavirus and its naval activities are a matter of "grave" concern, Japan said in its annual defense review published Tuesday. After…
Man arrested over murder of co-worker in March
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 06:49:34 +0000

Police in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture, have arrested a 46-year-old man on suspicion of killing a 55-year-old male colleague in March. According to police, Yuki Taniyama, a company employee,…
Fighting breaks out on Azerbaijan-Armenia border; several dead
Tue, 14 Jul 2020 00:50:45 +0000

Several Azeri soldiers have been killed and Armenian soldiers and police wounded in border clashes, both countries said on Monday, each accusing the other of encroaching on its…

Travel to Japan

In our 2016 Japan trip, we spent the last six days in Tokyo. I really wanted to go to the site of the National Stadium, so one sunny morning, we hopped onto the Ginza subway line at Asakusa station, and went to Gaienmae. From there, we walked to the site of the stadium.

National Stadium Tokyo site in 2016

Site of the 2020 Olympic stadium, Tokyo May 2016

The old stadium that was built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics has been completely demolished, and the ground was being prepared for construction of the new stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. It was sad to see that the old stadium was torn down. I remember one day in 1977 when Ritsuko and I were walking through the area, and on a whim, went into the old stadium and watched a soccer game. But, such is progress, and I look forward to seeing the new stadium. The plans have changed from the original design, but I am confident that it will be magnificent.

Nearby, some of the streets were blocked off for a children's bicycle race. That was really cute, and quite unexpected.

Near Gaienmae Tokyo 2016

Children's bicycle race near Meiji Jingu Gaien, Tokyo May 2016

Moving on, we continued to walk, with one thing or another catching our attention, and thus diverting our path. Finally, we found ourselves approaching Shinjuku Station on the east side, and made our way on to the main east entrance of the station. From there, walking into the famous (or sometimes infamous) Kabukicho district, I looked down the street and saw Godzilla, or as he is called in Japan, ゴジラ (Gojira), clutching onto the top of the Toho Cinemas building.

National Stadium Tokyo site in 2016

Godzilla atop the Toho Cinema Building, Shinjuku

2016 Toho Cinema promotes new Godzilla movie, シンゴジラ(Shin Gojira) by putting him on top of their buiding in Shinjuku

This was part of a promotion for the latest Godzilla movie, シンゴジラ (Shin Gojira), that Toho Cinemas was releasing in 2016. Later that envening, I emailed the pictures to a few friends in order to let them know that, just in case they had ever wondered what had happed to the big scaley fellow, Godzilla aka ゴジラ (Gojira) was alive and well in Shinjuku.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: October 1, 2019

Japan Culture

One evening during our 2016 Japan trip, Ritsuko and I were shopping in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, and decided to stop in a restaurant near Akihabara Station for a quick snack before moving on.

beer machine

Near Akihabara Station - Draft Beer Vending Machine

beer machine

The chilled mug is tipped for pouring, and changes angle as the beer is dispensed.

beer machine

Foam is added to form the perfect head.

In that restaurant, we saw the most marvelous of mechanical contraptions -- a draft beer vending machine. Ok, I must admit that I don't get out much, and that I am easily amused and entertained, but I thought this was just a great invention, and oh so practical. For ¥300, this machine, which is even equipped with a chiller in the lower part of the cabinet for glass mugs, pours a perfect mug of beer for the customer.

In the video below, Ritsuko demonstrates how it works:

Video of Ritsuko demonstrating the operation of a draft beer vending machine in a restaurant near Akihabara Station

We were each planning to drink just one glass of beer with our ramen, but watching the machine go through its paces was so entertaining that we each had to buy another round, just so we could watch the it run a couple more cycles.

In Japan, automated conveniences like vending machines are like a cultural and industrial art form, and this draft beer vending machine is truly a work of art.

Draft beer, perfectly poured into a chilled mug -- automation nirvana

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: October 1, 2019

My Air Force Days

me with camera 1977

Me with movie camera - 1977

I was going through some boxes of old pictures and slides, when I came upon a small box full of 8mm movie films. And no, they weren't the "training films" that used to sometimes surface on poker nights at Yokota. These were movies that I shot with my Canon 814 Super 8 movie camera back in the early to mid 1970's.

In that box, one was labeled WB57 taxi. I had not thought about having made that film for many years. Thinking back to the early part of my Yokota tour, I remembered shooting a short clip one winter day, I think it was in Dec 1973, or possibly January 1974, of a WB57F taxiing on the parking ramp toward the runway.

I was standing on the wing of a WC-135, working on a U-1 foil, and luckily, I had taken my movie camera onto the aircraft with me that day. When I noticed that the B57's engines were starting, I ducked inside the aircraft, grabbed my camera, and went back out on the wing to get ready to film. As you can see in the video, standing on the wing of the 135 was the perfect vantage point from which to shoot. Unfortunately, I only had enough film left in the camera to shoot part of the taxi, and didn't have an extra film cassette to film the takeoff. Anyway, I am very happy to have taken the movie that day. I just had the super 8 converted to digital so that I could enjoy watching it in a more convenient format, and so that I could share it via this website.

Notice how low the wing tips are; the airplane must have had a full load of fuel. It looks like the left wing tip almost clips a snow bank as the plane rolls by.

Here are a couple of images that I captured from the video.

This is a WB57F high altitude reconnaissance plane taxiing toward the runway at Yokota Air Base in 1973

WB57F

Another view - WB57F Yokota AB

 
p-systems

WB57F P-systems and spheres in the Yokota AB MET/ARE shop

The WB57F was a pretty amazing aircraft. It had a wing span that was almost twice the fuselage length, and powered by two TF-33 fan jet engines (sometimes two smaller J-60 engines were mounted outboard of the main engines), it had a ceiling altitude of about 80,000ft. Although it could be equipped with a variety of special equipment, the standard configuration consisted of a B400 detection unit, an I-2 foil and single U-1 foil for particulate air sampling, and a P-system, which consisted of two platforms mounted in the nose. Each P-system platform, several of which are on the floor in the picture on the left, had two compressors, and held four 900 cu in steel spheres that could be pressurized to 3000psi. This equipment was the basic gear used to sample debris from nuclear tests performed, at that time, primarily by our cold war adversaries, USSR and China.

Prior to my tour at Yokota, these aircraft had been assigned to the 56th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. After the 56th WRS was deactivated, 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing left an operational detachment there, to which was assigned 3 of these aircraft along with the flight crews and necessary operational staff. Maintenance personnel, including MET/ARE were re-assigned to the 610 MASS.

I don't remember exactly when the 9th Weather Wing detachment was de-activated, and the aircraft left Yokota, but I think that it was very late 1974 or early 1975. That was the end of my experience supporting these unique aircraft.

The last news article that I read about the WB57F was from about 4 years ago in a piece that discussed an operation in Afghanistan run by NASA utilizing the last two remaining operational WB57F's as a platform for a highly specialized communications system. It was good to know that a couple of them were still flying high.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: October 1, 2019
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