Home Open Account Help 118 users online

Railroaders' Nostalgia > KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...

Date: 04/16/17 22:04
KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: KeyRouteKen

Hi Everybody--  and, a SINCERE greeting to all of you current or former railroaders on this forum.  Thank you for your Service !

Here is another one of my famous stories that cover a LOT of territory.  So let's get started !!

I thought I would relate the story of how I got permission to photograph the inner workings of the various railway facilities and rolling stock of the "Japanese National Railways" (JNR) -- circa 1967 ...

I haven't touched on this exploit with you folks before, so here goes ---
During the nine years I served with the United States Navy, I was stationed at different bases as well as on two Naval destroyers. USS TWINING (DD-540) and USS OZBOURN (DD-846).
It was during the height of the Vietnam conflict that I was assigned to USS OZBOURN and homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. Our primary mission was to participate in "Operation Sea Dragon" where we shelled the various areas of North Vietnam.  I practically toured the World as I visited Australia, Japan, Pango Pango, Fiji, Philippine Islands, Guam, Okinawa, Hawaii, Thailand, Hong Kong, Kowloon, Wo Lu (China),
Taiwan (Taipei, Keelung, Kaoschung), Manus Island, and a few other places.  I had POLICE duty (Shore Patrol) while in Taiwan...
I was also the Ship's Duty Driver, which included taking our Captain and XO to the golf course amongst other requirements.
In January-1968, I was also with the OZBOURN when the Commander-7th Fleet selected "US" to attempt a rescue mission of the USS PUEBLO which had been seized by the North Koreans. This was quite an operation in itself and pretty scary too. Most media today believe that the U.S. never attempted a rescue mission. WRONG !!  If any of you want to learn more, look up "Operation Formation Star".  They gave us a Black Face, a Gun and a big knife (but without formal SEALS training, and into Wonsan Harbor, North Korea we headed !!
It was two guys out of each Rate.
I was an Electronics Technician-Radar Second Class (E-5), responsible for repairing radar, communications and electronic countermeasures equipment (ECM) ...
More on this story at some other time !!  Now on to a spectacular railroad adventure !!!!!

While stationed in Yokosuka, Japan for two years, I frequently would take trips to other Japanese cities to see the sights, when our ship was going to be in port long enough to use some "leave" time.

One day, while out at sea, I drafted a letter to the main office in Tokyo, of the Japanese National Railways.
My request was simple and straight-forward. I wanted to get permission to SEE and FILM some of their general operations not normally available to the Public.
I explained that I was a U. S. Sailor and that I belonged to a handful of railroad-oriented clubs and so forth.

After two or three weeks went by-- maybe longer-- I received a letter from a gentleman at the "JNR" ..
My "request" had been granted !!!

I was directed to meet with the gentleman in his office at the massive "JNR Building" in Tokyo next time my ship was in port. I used to travel from Yokosuka to Tokyo either by Taxi or Train ... The taxis were small but crazy and fun to ride in, with a crazy Japanese driver.
The fare was 1500 Yen-- about $5.00 at the time for a sixty or so mile trip.
But the narrow-gauge electric trains were fantastic too.

When I got to Tokyo, I had a room reserved at the "Tokyo Station Hotel" --just down the street from the JNR Building. There seemed to be a "zillion" tracks right outside my bedroom window--it was fantastic !

About 9:30 am the next morning, I went to the JNR Building and took the elevator up to about the 20-something floor..
A secretary greeted me and introduced me to my "English-speaking Guide"--the gentleman who had replied to my letter. He "offered me a drink" which I whole heartedly accepted and we sat down and discussed the days plans.
It was THEN that I found out that two gentlemen from INDIA were going with me as well.
It was THEN that I also found out that we would be provided with a "driver" to take us around here and there.
YES--that's what I said-- I would have a "driver" ...  a'la LIMO  !!
  Have any of you "rails" out there chased old logging lines like the Pickering or West Side, or Elvas Tower, etc and had a DRIVER ?? (grin)

We went everywhere imaginable on the JNR around Tokyo and outline areas. Locomotive facilities, Shops, Stations, Yards.. We were given an in-depth tour of the master control center for the high-speed "New Tokaido Line".. You had to "take your shoes off" before entering!

The room had TWO giant "Model Boards" in a concave configuration. The LEFT half as I recall was for control or dispatching of trains--the RIGHT half was for overall electrical power control and distribution.
Although maybe it was the other way around-- Oh well!

At the big Tokyo Station, there was a long Tokaido Line train sitting there EMPTY !!!
The Guide requested we step inside the CAB with the Engineer/Driver/Motorman..  He was wearing a cute little hat, too.. The Guide introduced us and before we could blink our eyes--the door slammed shut--and ZOOM--we were off and running and I thought "WOW".. Where are we going--hadn't even bought a ticket !! <g>

Went out of town about twenty-five miles and ran the train thru an automatic washer. What an experience!
Toured rail yards and all kinds of things. It was the ultimate rail adventure of my entire life, other than my cab ride on the GN over Steven's Pass, also in 1967, when I met Rocky the Goat, before shipping out overseas.

I have never determined how this "sailor boy" lucked out with this grand tour I received. It was unbelievable !!
Later on I thought that maybe they accidentally came up with the notion that I was the "Official Representative of the Railways of the United States" !!!!!!   (grin)

No matter-- I had a blast!!

The entire episode, or most of it, was recorded by me on color motion picture film as well as Kodak color prints.
The film includes the scene of going thru the Washer. The "stills" depict a number of subjects. Maybe I can dig them out and scan some for you guys sometime!
The FILM is on a 400-foot reel along with some five other similar size reels of my Navy Days!! Might be interesting to transcribe part of that JNR stuff onto a DVD or something. Gosh--more film projects !!

By the way, one of the "ceremonies" the NAVY would conduct when your ship crossed the EQUATOR was the official entering into "King Neptune's Realm" .. THAT is a ceremony beyond belief! On my way to Australia, we crossed the EQUATOR and I "was inducted"..
I have the entire thing on FILM and am thinking of submitting it to the History Channel or such. The NAVY had to back off from this time-old tradion because it was considered "HAZING" by officials here and there.  BUT, I am proud to this day that I am an honorable Shellback and have a nice certificate as well as a wallet card.  I'll tell you guys one thing.......  You were sure glad to jump in the Shower and clean up after an all day ceremony with King Neptune, let me tell YOU !!

Anyway, enjoy the photos I found of my ship that carried me to a war zone, but also, to a railfan's delight, as well as some views of the New Tokaido Line and JNR narrow-gauge electric commute trains.

And remember-- it doesn't hurt to "ASK PERMISSION" to see TRAINS
once in a while, does it ??


"Key Route Ken"

Photo 1.   My home away from home--   USS OZBOURN  (DD-846)   A FRAM II type Destroyer.  We were also the Flagship of Destroyer Squadron 92 for the 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific.

Photo 2.  Hey--guess who ?  It's none other than "Key Route Ken" ...    Sure wish I was in the same shape I was then .  (grin)

Photo 3.  My Japanese hosts for the Tour of a Lifetime ...    My English-speaking guide on the RIGHT ...   My LIMO Driver on the LEFT !


Date: 04/16/17 22:12
Re: KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: KeyRouteKen

Photo 4.  New Tokaido Line

Photo 5.  Inside a passenger car

Photo 6.  Narrow-gauge train yard--  almost thought of the Bridge Yard and Key System

Photos courtesy of KRK Archives

Date: 04/16/17 22:13
Re: KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: Railbaron

Almost identical post to:


you did last April 21, 2016.

Date: 04/16/17 22:15
Re: KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: KeyRouteKen

Photo 7.  JNR Yard Facilities

Photo 8.  JNR Yard Facilities

Photo 9.  JNR Yard Facilities

Photos courtesy of KRK Archives.

Date: 04/16/17 22:24
Re: KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: KeyRouteKen

Photo 10.  JNR workers washing a train by hand .

Photo 11.  This guy is going inside the train to gather up trash and so forth.

Photo 12.  The narrow-gauge commute trains were all color-coded.  Green,  yellow,  red, white, chocolate brown, etc.   No need to look at a sign to catch a train for home--  just look for the proper color.   Anyway, thats all for now.  I got to get some sleep.  Thanks for your attention.


Photos courtesy of KRK Archives.

Date: 04/16/17 22:26
Re: KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: KeyRouteKen

Railbaron Wrote:
> Almost identical post to:
> http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,
> 4013931,4014008#msg-4014008
> you did last April 21, 2016.

But NOT the wording.  It came from 2008.  Just sit back and enjoy--ok ?

Date: 04/16/17 23:45
Re: KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: TonyJ

Nice to see the "stills" You sent me a copy of your movie footage about six years ago. Our local railfan crowd commented about the hand washing of the windows, etc.

Date: 04/18/17 10:25
Re: KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: jst3751

Railbaron Wrote:
> Almost identical post to:
> http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,
> 4013931,4014008#msg-4014008
> you did last April 21, 2016.


Date: 04/21/17 17:19
Re: KRK's Deluxe Tour of the Japanese National Railways ...
Author: Margaret_SP_fan

Thank you very much, Ken, for this fascinating looks at the
JNR, and a look at a part f your very interesting tour of
duty in the US Navy long ago.

I would lvoeit if you digitized everything -- if you have the
time, so we all could enjoy the rest of your very interesting
adventures. Imagine that -- getting a private tour if the
JNR!! They must have thought you were an official representative
of some organiztion. Whatever the reason, you did get a tour of
a lifetime! Wow!!

I love all your stories, and I do nto care one bit if you
repeat what you have already posted.

And your experiences with the US Navy are also very interesting.
You and others are truly living history, and I am very glad you
took as man y photos as you did back then, and that you are writing
down some of your experiences. Please post more! (Yes, I see
tjhat you have another story above this one.)

[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.1576 seconds