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Date, Time, Currency Rate
Japan:
Thu, 06/13/2024, 11:40 PM
Central USA:
Thu, 06/13/2024, 9:40 AM
Currency: 1 USD = 157.03 JPY
as of 06/13/24 13:00 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. As you browse the site, please note that clicking on any of the images will enable you to see an enlargement of the picture, clicking on it again will take it back to original size. Also, many words are highlighted to show the availability of a tooltip, which will provide you with more information about the word, and are invoked by hovering the mouse pointer over it.

I will add content to the site periodically, so please visit often.

News Feeds

News feed source: NHK News (Japanese)
NHKニュース
日本放送協会 NHKニュース

G7サミット【1日目】開幕 ウクライナ支援ロシア凍結資産活用へ
Thu, 13 Jun 2024 23:35:30 +0900

G7サミット=主要7か国首脳会議は、イタリアで日本時間の13日夕方から始まりました。初日はウクライナ情勢などについて意見を交わし、制裁で凍結したロシア中央銀行の資産を活用したウクライナ支援で合意を目指すことにしています。
Mrs. GREEN APPLE 新曲ミュージックビデオ 批判受け公開停止
Thu, 13 Jun 2024 17:50:32 +0900

3人組の人気バンド、Mrs. GREEN APPLE(ミセス・グリーン・アップル)が12日夜に公開した新曲のミュージックビデオが差別的な内容だとSNS上で批判を浴び、所属のレコード会社は「歴史や文化的な背景への理解に欠ける表現が含まれていた」として、映像の公開を停止し謝罪しました。
スマホ決済「LINE Pay」 国内でのサービスを来年4月末で終了へ
Thu, 13 Jun 2024 18:04:54 +0900

LINEヤフーは、スマホ決済「LINE Pay」の国内でのサービスを来年4月末で終了すると発表しました。残高は同じグループで展開する「PayPay」に移行できるとしています。
鹿児島県警文書漏えい 捜索受けた代表が苦情申し入れ文書送付
Thu, 13 Jun 2024 22:02:57 +0900

鹿児島県警の巡査長が、刑事事件の内部文書などを第三者に漏らした罪で起訴された事件で、関係先として捜索を受けたネットメディアの代表が、県警に苦情を申し入れる文書を13日に送りました。拒んだにもかかわらず、押収されたパソコンからデータを消去されたなどとして、「このような手法で取材活動を冒すことは許されない」としています。
袴田巌さんの姉 ひで子さんらが再審に関する法改正を訴え
Thu, 13 Jun 2024 21:55:19 +0900

58年前に静岡県で一家4人が殺害された事件で再審=やり直しの裁判が行われている袴田巌さんの姉のひで子さんが13日、超党派の国会議員でつくる議員連盟の総会に出席し、迅速な救済のためには再審に関する法律の改正が必要だと訴えました。
“自宅の庭でクマとにらみ合うこと10分”福井の男性が恐怖語る
Thu, 13 Jun 2024 16:32:01 +0900

6月9日、自宅の庭に現れたクマとおよそ10分にわたってにらみ合ったという福井県越前市の住民の男性が驚きと恐怖を語りました。周辺でもクマの目撃情報が相次いでいて市が警戒を呼びかけています。
郵便料金30年ぶり値上げへ 10月から手紙110円に
Thu, 13 Jun 2024 15:33:00 +0900

日本郵便は手紙の料金をいまの84円から110円にするなど、ことし10月に郵便料金を一斉に値上げする届け出を行いました。利用数の減少や物流コストの上昇を理由としています。

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 after several decades, 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 in 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: February 13, 2024

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: July 28, 2023

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.

After we built the "snow people", Ritsuko wrestled the camera away from me therefore I will add ...

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: July 28, 2023
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