or -- presenting evidence of things that I do in my spare time
Bob Crabb in Tokyo, 2019
My Japan experience began in June 1973, when as a member of the United States Air Force, I embarked upon a two year unaccompanied (i.e. unaccompanied by spouse or family) tour at Yokota Air Base, a U.S. military base in the western part of Tokyo Prefecture, Japan, initiating an experience that would eventually develop into a deep love for the culture and the people of this most fascinating country.
At that time, I was 23 years old and single. I had enlisted in the Air Force two and a half years prior, in December 1970, a time when I was about to be drafted. Back then, a new airman's specialty field was determined somewhat by aptitude test scores, but ultimately it was determined by what jobs the Air Force needed to fill at the time, therefore one's fate was mostly just the luck of the draw. Although I had enlisted with the understanding that I would be assigned to a some kind of an electronics specialty, I knew that there was no guarantee that I wouldn't instead be assigned to something that I would find to be much less favorable. Therefore, I felt very fortunate when, near the end of Basic Training, I received orders assigning me to Chanute AFB, where I was to begin the nine and a half month training course for MET/ARE, a specialty field in which I not only was unlikely to be in harm's way, but also one that offered me the opportunity to acquire a marketable skill and that provided me with the opportunity to travel to some interesting places. At the top of my wish list of interesting places to visit, was Japan.
I immediately found Japan to be a fascinating country. By late 1974, I had been there for about a year and a half and I was really enjoying my tour, but with the end of my tour being only a few months away, I was planning for my next assignment. It was at that time that Ritsuko and I met. It didn't take long for me to realize that she was my soul mate and the love of my life, therefore we began to make plans to marry, which we did in April 1975. I had been scheduled to rotate back to the continental US that next June, but in order for us to have some stability in our first years together, I took advantage of an opportunity to extend my tour in Japan, eventually staying there for a total of five years.
Therefore our first three and a half years together were spent in Japan. It was a time about which we often describe as magical because it was absolutely fantastic. Ritsuko and I traveled throughout the country. I studied the language, and while never becoming fluent, I was able to get about and communicate at a rudimentary level.
I never fully intended to make the Air Force my career, therefore in June 1978 I separated from the USAF, and Ritsuko and I moved to the U.S. We have returned for visits at various times since then, and in the past few years those visits have become more frequent.
In the early 2000's, I began learning the basics of web development, and in about 2005 I started sharing pictures and stories about our life and travels in Japan on the internet. It started with blogs and message boards that I had set up on other web sites, and then I finally developed the original japan-days.info in early 2008 as a standalone web site.
Previous version of japan-days.info
The web site you are visiting today is my latest version of Japan-Days.info, launched on March 3, 2017. It replaces the previous version (pictured here), which, like most other web sites from 2008, had become dated in appearance and function. A lot has happened in web design since 2008. Web technology such as HTML5, CSS3, and jQuery provide a very robust platform for the creative display of web content. Also, in that Windows XP officially reached end of life in April 2014, most of the hideous old browsers like Internet Explorer pre version 9 are no longer in use because the newer operating systems don't support them. The current technology also provides a platform for responsive design, eliminating the need to develop a separate mobile site for phones and tablets.
For my own convenience, and because I am an incurable techno-nerd who has a general contempt for website generators or open source CMS software, I have developed a custom content management system in PHP & MySQL to handle dynamic content, and to make it easier for me to add or modify content.
The home page is divided into four sections, with content categorized by section. Random articles in categories of travel, culture, and military are posted within the relevant section, and links for other articles are in a menu within each of those sections. Those links will take you to the Articles page where the rest of the content resides. Or, you can skip the video and flashy home page, and just click on the "Articles" button on the main menu to cut to the content. I have migrated some of the static content from the old site, and posted those pages as articles, using an approximation of the date when I originally put the pages on the old site as the post date on the new site.
I hope that you enjoy the site; please check back frequently for new posts.