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Date, Time, Currency Rate
Thursday, Sep 24, 2020, 3:29 AM
Central USA:
Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020, 1:29 PM
Currency: 1 USD = 105.12 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: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Duterte gets tough on China, leans back to old ally America
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 15:20:00 +0000

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday gave his most forceful defense yet of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippines that said Beijing’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea breached international law.
Marines report a new coronavirus patient in Japan as infection numbers continue to fall
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 09:48:00 +0000

The U.S. military in Japan reported one new patient infected with the coronavirus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, an individual affiliated with the Marine Corps on Okinawa.
Coast Guard cutter docks in Yokosuka for repairs days after shipboard fire
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 06:14:00 +0000

Investigators in Yokosuka are assessing the Coast Guard cutter Waesche to determine the fire’s cause and the extent of the damages after a 90-minute fire damaged the ship at sea on Sunday.
Blast kills explosives experts surveying WWII munitions on Guadalcanal
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 04:48:00 +0000

The men, one British and one Australian, worked for Norwegian People’s Aid and died when an explosion ripped their home and office in the Tasahe residential area of West Honiara on Guadalcanal.
DODEA schools to open in South Korea as military eases coronavirus restrictions
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 04:42:00 +0000

A decision to lower the health protection condition allows troops, family members and civilian employees in South Korea to eat out at restaurants and conduct other recreational activities off-base.
China’s threats of war push Taiwan to boost US economic links
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 17:27:35 +0000

Although many observers see the U.S. coming to Taiwan’s aid if China were to launch an attack, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s government is actively taking steps to increase economic ties between the unofficial allies to provide more incentives for American policy makers to intervene.
Japan defense ministry plans college fee support to woo young people to SDF
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:34:00 +0000

The policy is aimed at recruiting more young people who can serve on the front lines in times of emergency.
US Forces Korea to release coronavirus patients after 21 days despite test results
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 08:56:00 +0000

U.S. Forces Korea will release asymptomatic coronavirus patients after three weeks in isolation even if they continue to test positive, officials said Tuesday, citing research showing people are no longer contagious after 20 days.
Navy and Marine Corps announce several new coronavirus patients at bases in Japan
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 08:15:00 +0000

Five of the new coronavirus cases reported by the U.S. military on Tuesday are at Yokosuka Naval Base, while the other two are at Marine Corps installations on Okinawa.

Travel to Japan

Post Date: May 11, 2017

On May 9, Ritsuko and I returned from our 2017 Japan Trip. Everything pretty much came together as planned, and aside from both of us coming down with colds in the last week, there were no unpleasant surprises.

waiting at Ohare

At Chicago O'Hare, waiting to board our flight to Tokyo

Flying in economy class for 13 hours is not a pleasant experience, but it was tolerable. This year, we flew on Japan Airlines instead of ANA, on which we have flown on our previous three trips. JAL's widebody 777's are set up with a 3-3-3 seating configuration in the economy cabin as opposed to the 3-4-3 setup on ANA. Also, there is slightly more leg room on JAL. These small differences made for a huge improvement in overall comfort.

Improvements in comfort notwithstanding, by the time that we arrived at Narita, Tokyo International, I felt like I was some kind of creature that had been squeezed out of a tube, and was attempting to regain human form as I slithered into the jetway. Things got better after that. Immigration, customs, and the JR East office were not congested, and we were quickly processed, received our JR Rail Passes, and were on our way to Tokyo via the Narita Express train (NEX).

I'll try to fill in the details on some of the highlights of the trip later, but here is the a broad overview of where we went and where we stayed:

We spent the first night near Tokyo Station across the street from the Yaesu North Entrance at Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo. We also stayed here on the first night of our 2016 trip. The hotel is secure, clean, and well appointed. Although it might seem rather pricey for the size of room, given the location where most hotels in the area cost double or more, it is a bargain. If you need to depart Tokyo Station early in the morning, the convenience of being across the street from one of the entrances near the Shinkansen platforms is worth the extra expense.

The next morning, we traveled by train to Kagoshima, where we spent seven nights in Kagoshima city at the Silk Inn Kagoshima, about 2 blocks from Kagoshima-Chuo Station. Booking a hotel near the station for seven contiguous nights was a challenge this year. This was our first stay at the Silk Inn, and we were quite happy with the hotel. The location was good, the hotel was clean and quiet, and the staff was excellent. We will definitely stay there again. During our stay in Kagoshima, we traveled by train several times to the north into rural Kagoshima Prefecture, where we got together with several family members. We also visited the newly constructed museum on the East China Sea coast in the town of Hashima that is dedicated to the Satsuma Students and their voyage to England in the 1860's. Another highlight of our stay in the Kagoshima area was a return visit to the Uenohara Jomon Period Archaeological Museum and the Kagoshima Prefecture Archaeology Center in Uenohara.

us with Osaka Castle in background

Bob and Ritsuko with Osaka Castle in the background - May 2017

From Kagoshima, we traveled by Shinkansen to Kyoto, where we spent six nights, staying at the Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto-Hachijoguchi. This was our first time to stay in this hotel, and we were very pleased. It is a well appointed hotel located a couple of blocks south of Kyoto Station, and a block and a half north of the Karasuma Subway Line Kujo Station. The room was large enough so that we were not tripping over one another, and we had adequate space for luggage. The hotel serves a super breakfast buffet every morning that includes Japanese and western breakfast items. Last year, we left Kyoto a couple of weeks before the new Kyoto Rail Museum opened. This year, visiting the rail museum was on my must see/must do list. Our stay in Kyoto was during Golden Week, therefore, with the exception of the Kyoto Rail Museum and Nishiki Market, and other popular shopping areas, we avoided the more popular tourist destinations in order to avoid the crowds, opting instead for sites less visited or more remote.

Mt Fuji viewed from Shinkansen 2017

Mount Fuji viewed from the Shinkansen en route to Tokyo

The last leg of our journey took us back to Tokyo for the last week of our trip. For the third consecutive trip, we stayed in Asakusa near Sensoji Temple at a small residence hotel, B:Conte Asakusa. Ritsuko and I love staying in Asakusa. Although it does get rather crowded at times, especially on holidays, it is a laid back area with a rich history and lot of great small restaurants. We didn't do a lot during this leg of our trip. We visited some familiar haunts, ate some great food, and mostly hung out and relaxed as we prepared for the journey home.

Overall, it was a great trip, and although we just returned, we are already thinking about our next Japan trip, whenever that will be.

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

Japan Culture

leaving Kyoto station

As the Shinkansen leaves Kyoto Station, it quickly accelerates. Watch the video to see from a passenger's POV.

Watch from the perspective of a passenger as this high speed Shinkansen leaves Kyoto Station, and accelerates rapidly.

Below is a short video clip that I shot from a train we were aboard when we traveled from Hiroshima to Tokyo during our 2012 trip. Sitting next to the window in the last row of seats in car 5, I shot this as we were leaving Kyoto Station. Immediately after leaving the city the train goes into a tunnel. The video will go dark, and then you can see the reflection of the interior of the car.

Notice the smoothness of the ride, and how quiet is the interior of the train. This is really a great way to travel.

Video shot from inside Shinkansen as it leaves Kyoto Station -- April 2012

waiting to board

Tokyo Station April 2012 -- Ritsuko with our luggage, waiting to board the 6:26AM train for Osaka, where we would transfer to another train bound for Kagoshima.

When Ritsuko and I go to Japan, we typically cover a lot of ground over the 2 to 3 week period of our trip, and in my opinion, the absolute best way to travel in country is by rail. Japan has a superb rail system. The larger cities have a network of commuter trains and subways; many rural areas have a combination of train and bus service. But, of course, the crown jewel of Japan's railway system is the high speed, comfortable, and reliable Shinkansen, also known as the "Bullet Train".

Tokyo Station - Model N700 Shinkansen

The first Shinkansen was a dream made into a reality under the leadership of Shinji Sogo, who was the fourth president of Japan National Railways in the 1950's and early 1960's. The initial plan was to upgrade train service on the Tokaido Line, utilizing a high speed train on a dedicated standard gauge track, with the goal of reducing travel time from Tokyo to Osaka to two hours. Put into service in 1964, the launch of the first train was to coincide with the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games, showing the world the remarkable extent to which Japan had recovered after WWII. However, political goals notwithstanding, the Shinkansen was the first move toward migrating Japan's rail system to standard gauge, and set a new standard for quality of service and safety for Japan's rail system.

Joetsu Shinkansen

E7 Series Shinkansen at Tokyo Station - service to Nagano

The model 0 had a top speed of 200km/hr. Today's model N700 runs at speeds of 240–320 km/h, and throughout the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, most major cities are linked by Shinkansen.

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

My Air Force Days

Post Date: March 1, 2011

On a rainy day in 1974, I was on my way out to the flightline to work on the air sampling equipment in a WC-130 when I decided to take a camera with me. I doubt that I had any motivation for doing so other than wanting to take some pictures of en route aircraft. However, maybe, just maybe I thought that some day, far in the future, when I am much older and as gray as that monsoon sky, I might like to look at these pictures again, and imagine the feeling of the drizzling rain dripping off of my cap and gradually soaking into my fatigues, the sound of jet engines, and the smell of JP4.

Perhaps some of my comrades of the 610 Military Airlift Support Squadron will also enjoy these pictures, so here they are.

Looking toward the terminal, some of Lockheed's finest of the era - a line of T-Tails (C141's) and a FRED (C5A)

Yokota AB Flightline

Down the other way, more C141's, and more rain; you can barely see the tower

Yokota AB Flightline

Flight Crew boarding -- this one is ready to go

Yokota AB Flightline

Re-fueling an enroute C141 - this brings back memories of being on the Yokota Air Base Flightline in the 1970's - I love the smell of JP4!

Yokota AB Flightline

Here is where I was to work that day -- a Weather C130

I hope that you enjoyed the pictures.

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