• A Week of Rails; Japan May 1968

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by Gilbert B Norman
At Mr. Benton's request, I will try to resurrect from memories of 52 years ago, a week long "ride the rails marathon" I did on my one week R&R during my "365 and a Wake Up" that started July '67.

First, to be honest, I have no Rambo stories to tell, save a dozen or so times in which "shots were fired" in my proximity - mainly around Tet - it was simply wake up, go to work in an air conditioned Communications Center at Tan Son Nhut AB, get some chow, go home, and start the process all over again. But nevertheless, I still had my R&R which I took at Tokyo during May '68.

Tokyo was "an easy one" to get; ones like Bangkok, Manilla, and Honolulu, were "a bit harder" to come by. So here we come for a "marathon". At 26yo, a bit easier to do such than today.

While the flight arrived at Tachikawa AB at about midnight, first night it was off to Camp Zama. The deal was "you leave here, you're gone until its time to report back". I guess you could have stayed "for the duration" (free), but "sorry 'bout that, I'm gone".

First it was an overnight Roomette ride to Hiroshima (English speaking ticket clerks were rare but eventually "Sleep Sleep First Class Hiroshima did the trick). The bed in the Roomette was somewhat shorter and "facilities were down the hall". This was on the narrow gauge "Old Tokaido", but the ride was comfortable.

The Memorial Museum at Hiroshima was to say the least "graphic", but I hold to this day "the deed had to be done".

(to be continued)
  by Gilbert B Norman

Next day, to Kyoto aboard the Narrow Gauge "Midori"; here is where I "invited" myself to the rear cab for an "Obs view" of the railroad. I was "visited" by a Conductor, who cared less that I was there. Thanks.

Kyoto is the cultural center of Japan and the whole city reflects this designation. It was untouched throughout the War, as the Japanese wisely did not locate anything of military significance there. However, history will note that it was an alternate A-Bomb target, which would have labeled the US a "war criminal" to the same extent that the British commanders were after the bombing of Dresden, which too apparently had no military significance.

Next morning to Osaka, which was the then the terminus of the "New Tokaido" HSR line.

(to be continued)
  by David Benton
Thanks Mr Norman, Its not a very good mark for my moderation of this forum , that its taken me over a month to observe your thread. But then , I don't think I've ever had to moderate a post in this forum.
Japan is definitely on my bucket list, but would probably be an expensive exercise with wife and 2 kids. Maybe one day there will be an educational reason to take them there.
Did you notice the effect of the narrow gauge trains vs the USA standard gauge.?