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maihama eki

I dug up the photos from my first trip to Japan in March 1993. I apologize for the quality upfront. They were taken with a pocket 35 mm camera. I was not specifically a fan of Japanese trains at the time, but was generally a train enthusiast. The prints have been sitting around since 1993 before being scanned just recently.

 

Anyway, maybe you will enjoy these despite the sketchy quality.

 

My wife (girlfriend at the time) was working on an extended stay in Japan to support manufacturing start-up of a disk drive. She lived in Tendo. I traveled to Japan and took the train up to visit her.

 

Starting with Shinkansen photos.

 

The Yamagata Shinkansen had just opened in 1992. It was serviced by the 400 series. The trains started at Tokyo Station with a 200 series coupled to a 400 series. They split in Fukushima, and the 400 series continued to Yamagata. That was the end of the line for the Yamagata shinkansen originally.

 

A pair of 400 series at Yamagata station.

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Same location, photo of a single 400 series with a local train of unidentified nature.

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A crummy photo of a 200 and 400 together - probably at Tokyo Station. My apologies to the gentleman who walked in front of me just as I snapped the photo.

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A close-up of the 200 and 400 connected. I think also at Tokyo Station.

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Edited by maihama eki
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maihama eki

Looking back at these photos reminds me how different visiting Japan was only ... 28 years ago. Tourism has boomed in Japan the last 10 years. In 1993, Japan had 3.4M foreign visitors. In 2019, it was almost 10x that, at 32M. In 1993 things were very different than they are today:

- There were no mobile phones or GPS to help you navigate. You had to find different items using a paper map or guidebook or just by exploring. This is not made easier by the lack of visible street signs and addresses in Japan. I was a little worried about getting lost at times, because navigation was such a challenge.

- Even in major tourist areas like Asakusa, you may not see many other non-Asian faces in the crowd, and as a taller, blond-haired, blue-eyed person, a lot of people would look at me. I would occasionally have people ask to take a photo with me, and you might catch someone sneaking a photo of you. You might still get a little bit of that attention in rural Japan today, but not in major cities.

- The Tokyo subways had a fair amount of English signage in the trains and stations, but the JR lines in Tokyo had no English. Back then, as a tourist, you had to buy individual tickets for each train ride. That was a little challenging because the ticket machines and maps/signs often had no English. It was not uncommon for us to buy a higher priced single ticket than we needed just to be sure that we would not get off the train and find we needed to do a fare adjustment. "I think a Y130 ticket will be okay, but let's buy a Y150 ticket just in case".

- While riding the train you might find yourself planning ahead while you were in front of a map with English "okay, we need to ride 6 stops west and then get off" because it was so hard to read the stations in Kanji as you were flying in. There were far more instances of getting off the train at the wrong station and having to get back going the same direction or backtrack.

- Japan is still relatively cash centric, but at that time very few places took even a Japanese credit card like JCB, and almost no where took U.S. credit cards - even some hotels required a cash payment. Even major tourist spots like Tokyo Disneyland only took cash for tickets. ATMs that took U.S. cards were also nearly impossible to find. This meant you either had to bring a lot of Yen with you or try to exchange cash at your hotel or a bank.

 

It was certainly more of an adventure back then - especially for a first time visitor.

 

More photos to follow:

 

 

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maihama eki

Some more train photos - many of them taken while riding another train.

 

A bunch of older Takis and friends.

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Classic containers and Kokis.

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Can anyone identify this little beast?

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Another "identify that older locomotive" challenge. EF81 ?

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^ I think the ELs in your photograph, were two EF71s and an ED75, at least that's what it looks like to me.

The EF81 never had a center door like the units on your photo, and the electrical equipment on the roof is entirely different as well.

 

On 4/7/2021 at 8:23 AM, maihama eki said:

A close-up of the 200 and 400 connected. I think also at Tokyo Station.

 

At first I thought it was taken at Ōmiya, but after taking a better look it seems to be Fukushima.

The JR East Shinkansen platform (at that point in time there was only a single island platform) at Tōkyō station was always sandwiched between the conventional lines on one side and the Tōkaidō Shinkansen platforms on the other, hence there were no windows anywhere near the platforms as shown in your photograph.

Fukushima does have those windows, and with Fukushima being the split off/merging point for the Yamagata Shinkansen it makes sense that you would take pictures of the (result of the) coupling process there, rather than at any of the other stations.

 

The local train in your second picture appears to be a 719 series 5000 sub-type, a standard gauge derivative of the, JR East designed, 719 series built for local service on the Ōu Main line (Yamagata Shinkansen).

 

Thanks for sharing your pictures/story btw. They may not be desktop material but they are period pieces, which have their own unique value.

 

Cheers

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Thanks for sharing!  I understand the feeling of being a fan of trains, but not really a fan of Japanese trains at the time.  My experience in Japan in 2015 was similar and its interesting looking back though my pictures how few rail photos I took.

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maihama eki

Thanks 200! I never fail to be impressed with your brain database.

 

The second, daytime photo of the coupled 200 and 400 would have been taken on the return trip from Yamagata to Tokyo. I'm guessing you are right about Fukushima, because I would have had enough time to hop out and take a quick photo.

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maihama eki
Posted (edited)

A couple of photos from Tokyo subways. While in Tokyo, we stayed in a funky business hotel not far from Mitsukoshimae Sta. We used the subways almost exclusively around Tokyo because they had more English signage - and because we were Tokyo novices.

 

A fun story about the hotel where we stayed. The hotel had a small rack of newspapers in the lobby. The first day we arrived, it was all Japanese language newspapers. By the second day and every following day, there was always one English language newspaper in the rack. We were definitely the only ones in the hotel that would have wanted an English language paper. We assumed that having found we spoke English, the hotel brought in a copy of an English language paper just for us. That outstanding Japanese service!

 

Ginza Line, I assume. Station? No idea.

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Marunouchi Line. Again, not sure where. 

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Edited by maihama eki
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1 hour ago, maihama eki said:

Marunouchi Line. Again, not sure where. 

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Oooh, that's a lucky shot! You managed to photograph one of the last few remaining 500 Series trains in service! Those disappeared from mainline service two years later!

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railsquid

My first visit to Japan was later in 1993, was in a similar situation in that I liked railways in general, but wasn't really into actual trains. Had I known then what I know now, there's a lot of interesting stuff I could have gone and looked for, though realistically back then information was much less accessible so might not have known anyway.

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Tony Galiani

Can't identify the little beast but I can steer you to a model of it.  Which reminds me I need to finish mine up - had difficulties with the cab and need to get it done.

Maybe the language on the cover identifies it?

Tony Galiani

 

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maihama eki

Tony,

That certainly looks very close.

The title translates roughly to "Freight Car Moving Machine" "Half Cab".

It is this one https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10292593  

It seems to be based on one that is preserved in a kind of railway museum?

 

 

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Here is a video of one dated from October 2011:

 

And here is the text that accompanies it courtesy of Google Translate:

Please take a look at the process from the time the half-cab switcher came out from the Takaoka Plant of Chuetsu Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd. to the time it pulled in the footjob. The tiredness of the car body is irresistible w Please note that the wind is strong on the day and there is a blowing sound (; ´∀ `) * For many years, I mistakenly remembered "half gap" (-_-;) and corrected it to "half cab". January 2016

 

No brake hose so I guess this is considered a shunting tractor?  Not sure how many cars it can handle.

Ciao,

Tony Galiani

 

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I'm a little amazed that it has enough weight to pull those cars. It's almost small enough to fit inside one of those 19D containers. I wonder if any of them are still working.

 

I love the snow plows on the ends too.

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Here is one last photo from this trip. I'm including it because it is somewhat of an interesting view of Tokyo from 28 years ago.

 

This is a photo taken from Tokyo Tower looking toward the bay. You can see the Rainbow Bridge under construction - it was completed and opened in August of 1993 - around 5 months later. The well known Yurikamome Line across the bridge to Odaiba doesn't open until late 1995. The iconic Fuji TV Building is about to start construction on Odaiba. You can see that much of what is currently on Odaiba does not seem to exist yet.

 

I should go back and take this photo again to see how dramatically this view has changed. 

 

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I was well behind you. My first visit was 2006 starting with an unplanned overnight sleep on the floor at Narita due to arriving too late to catch the train into Tokyo (snow delays). Here's a couple of my photos of the iconic Enoden line.

 

Like you though I have many more photos of the sights than of the trains. On subsequent visits I have always tried to balance interests between trains and other experiences.

 

 

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Edited by tridentalx
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