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Date, Time, Currency Rate
Japan:
Tue, 10/4/2022, 6:58 AM
Central USA:
Mon, 10/3/2022, 4:58 PM
Currency: 1 USD = 144.67 JPY
as of 10/03/22 20:00 UTC

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: News on Japan
News On Japan
All the latest news on Japan

Japan's business mood worsens in third quarter, Bank of Japan 'tankan' survey shows
2022-10-03 15:21:27

Japanese manufacturers' business mood worsened in the three months to September, a central bank survey showed on Monday, bolstering views that the weakening yen and its inflationary impact on business costs undermined a fragile economic recovery. (Reuters)
Man arrested over fire that killed 2 people in apartment building for homeless people
2022-10-03 04:32:44

Police in Kita-Hiroshima, Hokkaido, have arrested a 67-year-old man on suspicion of murder after the two-floor apartment building for homeless people, in which he lived, was set on fire, killing two people. (Japan Today)
Google Japan introduces a 1.6 meter keyboard where all the keys are in a row
2022-10-03 03:59:21

Google is ready to revolutionize computer keyboards with this incredible bar-shaped keyboard. (gearrice.com)
'Carry and walk' for 5 minutes, then hold in arms for 8 more
2022-10-03 04:41:14

If your baby is crying heavily, carrying the child as you walk for five minutes is an effective way to calm the infant and induce sleep, researchers led by Kumi Kuroda of Japan's national scientific institute Riken have found. (Nikkei)
Tennis: Nishioka beats Shapovalov to win Korea Open
2022-10-03 04:05:31

Yoshihito Nishioka stunned fourth seed Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) to win the Korea Open on Sunday for his second ATP title. (blueprint)
Automation technology to boost Japan’s logistics industry
2022-10-03 04:20:34

The logistics industry is paying attention to technology that automates work. Automation technology can bring efficiency and solve challenges that Japanese industries face. (ANI News)
Ohtani signs $30 mil. deal with Angels for 2023 season
2022-10-03 04:26:31

The Los Angeles Angels say two-way superstar Ohtani Shohei has signed a one-year deal worth 30 million dollars for the 2023 season. (NHK)
Travel alone on a luxury sightseeing express train (Kyoto→Osaka) | Aoniyoshi
2022-10-01 16:30:58

An elegant train that I wanted to ride. This time I rode the sightseeing express train "Aoniyoshi" connecting Osaka-Nara-Kyoto. (At JAPAN)
Antonio Inoki, pro wrestling star turned politician dies
2022-10-01 16:09:01

Antonio Inoki, a Japanese professional wrestling star turned politician, died on Saturday, aged 79, according to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, a company he founded. (DW News)
Japan's digital minister says he's ready for a fight
2022-10-01 06:51:26

Japan's media-savvy digital minister said Friday he's ready to take an iron-fisted approach to speed up the nation's slow embrace of online services at government offices and workplaces. (AFP)

Travel to Japan

Post Date: August 11, 2019

"Be like a train; go in the rain, go in the sun, go in the storm, go in the dark tunnels! Be like a train; concentrate on your road and go with no hesitation! " --Mehmet Murat ildan

Kyoto Railway Museum Entrance

During the Kyoto leg of our 2017 spring trip to Japan, one of our goals was to visit the Kyoto Railway Museum. During our 2016 visit to Kyoto, we had missed the opening of the museum by just a few days, and we were determined to go there during this trip.

On the morning of our visit, the sky was cloudy, and a fine mist fell on us intermittently as we walked from Kyoto Station. In retrospect, it would have been easier to ride one of the frequently scheduled busses from the station, but once afoot, we were committed. We arrived at the museum entrance a few minutes before opening, and took our place in a rapidly growing line of visitors, among whom was an adorable group of early grade elementary school students, replete with backpacks, water bottles, and really spiffy uniforms, assembled in formation next to the entrance queue.

The children were all beaming with excitement and anticipation, and it is no wonder. Aside from containing an impressive collection of historic and modern trains, a lot of exhibits in the museum were made for the participation of children of all ages.

Type 230, s/n 233; the oldest existing production model steam locomotive in the English style manufactured in Japan; manufactured in 1903 by Kisha Seizo.

First Japan manufactured large electric locomotive EF52

Kyoto Railway Museum main floor; left to right: Shinkansen 500 series, Kuhane, and Raicho limited express trains.

Ritsuko standing in front of a Shinkansen Model "0"

Inside the Shinkansen Model 0 "ordinary" class passenger car

Inside the Shinkansen Model 0 Green Car "first class passenger car"

On the main floor, a very popular exhibit was a pedal powered rail inspection car. The seat height was set for children, therefore most adults who tried it struggled (personal experience). Another popular group of exhibits were the simulators, where people could simulate driving trains or operating various control consoles. But for me, the ultimate participatory exhibit was the steam locomotive train that visitors to the museum could ride.

The appeal of the museum exhibits is quite broad, and I think that anyone with an interest in trains or in the history of Japan should visit this museum if ever in Kyoto. It contains a really impressive collection of trains, railway equipment, and timeline exhibits arranged in the huge, three floor main hall and in the adjacent locomotive roundhouse in such a way that graphically illustrates the amazing history of rail in Japan, from its beginning during the Meiji Period to the present.

An exhibit, or series of exhibits, that really resonated with me were those showcasing the first generation Shinkansen, the Model 0, that was put into service in 1964 on the new Tokaido Shinkansen Line with service between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. When I lived in Japan in the early to mid 1970's, the Model 0 was still in service. Looking at the dining car, and the various types of passenger cars, certainly evoked memories of that era.

The first time I rode in a Shinkansen was in the early summer of 1974, when I traveled with some of my Air Force buddies to Shimoda for a weekend beach outing, opting to ride a "bullet train" the short distance from Tokyo Station to Atami. It was the first time for most of us to board one of the sleek super fast trains. I remember at that time, admiring not only the ultra smooth ride while traveling faster than any other train in the world, but also the simple elegance and cleverly designed functionality of the passenger car interiors. It would have been impossible for me to imagine at the time how the Shinkansen would evolve, but 45 years, several train model generations, and thousands of miles of traveling via Shinkansen, I still marvel at the simple elegance, functionality, and beauty of these incredible trains whenever I ride in or even see a Shinkansen.

Seeing how far the rail transportation has developed in Japan since its humble beginning in 1872 to the most comprehensive and advanced railway system of any country in the world, one might ask, "What could possibly be next?"

Kyoto Railway Museum locomotive roundhouse

In the next decade, we should see the opening of the Chuo Shinkansen, providing Maglev service between Tokyo's Shinagawa Station and Nagoya, and then eventually Osaka. Maglev trains have been under development in Japan for decades, and working test models of the trains have set world speed records, with a L0 Series train reaching a speed of 603 km/h (375 mph) during a manned test in April 2015.

The history of railways in Japan is an amazing story. It is an integral part of the incredible transformation of Japan from a feudal society in peril from imperial encroachment by the superpowers of the mid 19th century world to an industrialized empire in the late 19th through mid 20th centuries, and then emerging from the ashes of World War II to become a modern standard for advanced technical innovation and for excellence is providing an intricate infrastructure that well serves its population. The Kyoto Railway Museum, in my opinion, does a superb job of presenting that story.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: July 17, 2022

Japan Culture

Post Date: June 1, 2012

During our visit to Japan in April-May 2012, we decided to spend a day in Hiroshima. We have been through the city many times, only stopping at the train station briefly while aboard a Shinkansen. It is a place where I have always wanted to visit, but we were always in too much of a hurry to get someplace else. When planning this trip, we set aside a day, and put it into our travel plan.

After spending a few days in Southern Kyushu, we departed Satsumasendai early on a Saturday morning, boarding a Shinkansen headed north. We arrived in Hiroshima just before noon, left our bags at the hotel, had lunch near the station, and then ventured on to the Genbaku Dome, Memorial Peace Park, and Hiroshima Memorial Museum.

Hiroshima Genbaku Dome - a somber reminder of the destructive force of nuclear weapons

The Genbaku Dome was originally constructed in the early 20th century to serve as the Hiroshima Prefecture Commercial Exhibition Hall. After the atomic bombing on August 6, 1945, it was one of the very few structures in the central part of the city of Hiroshima that were not completely reduced to ash and rubble. As the city was reconstructed, the remaining structure was preserved as it was after the bombing.

Today, the shattered structure stands as part of a memorial in the middle of the once again vibrant port city of Hiroshima. The dome, Memorial Peace Park and Memorial Museum have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, serving as a memorial to the 70,000 people who were instantly killed when the bomb detonated, and to the additional 70,000 people who were fatally injured during the blast and perished later. It was a humbling and solemn experience to stand on the ground where so many perished instantly at the unleashing of such an enormous power, and a somber reminder of the devastation caused by nuclear warfare.

Here is a video slide show of some photos that I took that day.

I would recommend for anyone to visit Hiroshima if they have the opportunity. The memorial is a haunting reminder that the destructive force of nuclear weapons should never again be unleashed upon humanity.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: July 16, 2022

My Air Force Days

Post Date: February 6, 2021

"With luck, it might even snow for us." -- Haruki Murakami, from After Dark

I am sitting in our home in Iowa on a cold and snowy day in early February 2021, warmed by the glow of my computer screen. I am doing so because events from earlier today provided me with ample inspiration and motivation to sit down and write this article. Reminiscing about a time long ago, I had gone searching through a box of old slides and negatives, and found pictures from a day in what had to have been about the same time of year as now, 46 years ago, on a cold and snowy day in Fussa Japan.

In early January, 1975, Ritsuko and I began our lives together by renting a tiny apartment in Fussa city, about 3 blocks from the east entrance to the train station. The flat consisted of a single 6 tatami mat room for living and sleeping, a toilet (fortunately a western style flushing type), and a minuscule kitchen. To bathe, we walked a block down the street to the neighborhood Sentō. It was a magical time; we have many fond memories of the few months that we spent living in that diminutive abode. However, after the passage of more than four decades, recalling the details of those memories often requires some discussion between us in order to reach a collaborative agreement on their accuracy.

While neither of us remember very many details from that day, looking at the pictures, we came to an agreement that the morning must have progressed something like this:

Ritsuko was enjoying her morning coffee.

snow outside our window

Looking out our window, we could see that there was a lot of snow. Fortunately, neither of us had to go anywhere that morning.

Ritsuko was content to settle down to work on one of her many projects. That day she was probably working on the hideously detailed USFJ Form 196EJ, a six page document via which she was to list her personal history, in Japanese and English. It was required to be submitted in 6 copies (all original; no photocopies allowed) as part of the package of official documents that we had to submit in order for us to receive permission from the US Air Force to marry.

getting ready to go

As much as I wanted her to finish the "permission to marry" forms, I couldn't resist being a bad influence that morning by convincing her join me for a walk outside in the snow. Ritsuko agreed; there were just a few last minute details to take care of before going out in public.

Outside, and we're off for a walk in the neighborhood. Wow, there is a lot of snow.

snow east side of Seiyu

There aren't many automobiles on the streets this morning.

Evidently, this was not a snow day off for the school children.

people headed to work

Not a snow day off for most people. Slogging through the snow, it's on to work.

Business owners prepare to open shop.

slippery sloppy day

Life goes on, even on a day of slippery, sloppy weather.

Ritsuko says this has been fun, but it is time to go back home.

snow people

Later that morning, we went back outside and Ritsuko built a snow man, a rather portly fellow evidently adorned with some sort of Heian Period head gear. Nice bit of detail, my dear. That blob of snow with two orbs of snow attached haphazardly and standing next to her snow man, is my feeble attempt at sculpting a snow woman. Obviously neither of us were invited to compete in the Sapporo Snow Festival that year.

That's all for now. I hope that you all enjoyed stepping back into the past with us.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: August 1, 2022
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