Friday, August 30, 2013

The Hara Model Railway Museum

During one of those hot days we spent in Tokyo this past July, we took a trip to Yokohama and visited the Hara Model Railway Museum.  I did not know about this place before going on this trip, but one of  Nona's cousins recommended it and he had written down the information for us.  It was so hot during the afternoons that we were spending that part of the day in our hotel room just to stay cool.  Going to Yokohama and spending some of the afternoon in an air conditioned museum looked like a good alternative.

To get to Yokohama, we rode the JR Shonan-Shinjuku line from Ebisu station.  This is a relatively new service and it was the first time we had ridden it.  As this train stops at Ebisu Station that is where we caught it because that is a smaller station and much easier to deal with than Shinjuku.

Turned out to be a pleasant walk from Yokohama station to the Mitsui building where the Museum is located.  After leaving the station we walked across this pedestrian bridge to the other side of the channel.

After crossing the bridge we went down to a river level walkway.  That took us past the Nissan building and then to the Mitsui building.  When we got to the Mitsui building we saw this sign.

Once you enter the lobby of the building, this escalator leads to the museum itself.

Unfortunately the museum does not allow any photos which is a shame as the displays are are really photogenic.  There are museum visitor guides in several languages including English.

There's even a small Tenshodo shop in the lobby of the building near the bottom of the escalator.  The selection is nothing like the store in Ginza but they do have a few things. It seems to serve as the gift shop for the museum.

The museum maintains a website in both English and Japanese that includes a copy of the museum guide, photos, and a map showing the path we followed to get there shown on the map as "The Hamamirai Walk".

Hara Model Railway Museum English web site

Sorry for no photos of the layouts or displays but hopefully this information will help you if you are planning on being in Japan anytime and want to got see this museum for yourself.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Modeling Japanese bicycles

Bicycles and motorcycles of all types are an important element in a model scene of Tokyo.  This post is going to be limited to bicycles.  Look at almost any random Google Street view scene of Tokyo and you are likely to see some bicycles.  Fortunately there are several options available for N scale bicycles.  I have not tried them all but here are the ones I have used.

TomyTec offers two sets which include both bicycles and motorcycles with riders.  They are well detailed and painted.  The riders are separate pieces if you want to use the bicycles as parked.  Several of the other TomyTec building or scene sets also have bicycles included as part of a scene but they are separate pieces and can be used by themselves.

For bicycles without riders Gold Medal Models offers a set of 10 etched metal bicycles and a couple of parking racks.  These have been around for quite a few years and are widely used in the US to model bicycles.  Being etched metal they are quite thin and it can be a challenge to place a rider on one and have it look right.  Also I felt that while they are the same overall size as the Tomytec models because of the thinness they just did not look right when placed together with the Tomytec models.  I used them as parked bicycles in separate scenes as shown in the post Finishing the Green Max houses.

Sanki offers a set of 4 riderless bicycles that are of a paper stock.  The handle bars are separate and I found quite difficult to attach to the frame and then very delicate.  These models are undercoated black but can be painted.   At 280 yen for a set of 4, these were the least expensive N scale bicycles I've tried.

What I've had good results with for parked bikes are these plastic models from Tomix.  They come in two different styles and are unpainted except for the tires, seats, and baskets.

Because I don't really like the molded colors of these bikes, I end up repainting them starting with the frames.  I've hand painted the ones shown in this photo but they could be airbrushed as well.  After the frames are painted, I go back and touch up the tires with Floquil grimy black.

Here are two of my completed bicycles with some details added, mostly by painting.   I do all this painting and detailing before removing them from the spue.  By adding details like this, it is possible to make each one unique even if they are the same color.

I found that the sport model bike is quite delicate at the front and had best results by cutting that first, then the back, and last the bottom.

When compared side by side there is quite a difference in the sizes of the Tomix and TomyTec bikes.  What I have been doing is using the Tomix ones as parked and the TomyTec ones as being ridden since those come with some riders that seem to fit OK.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shinkansen - The only way to fly !

During this summers trip to Japan we got JR passes for one week and took two Shinkansen rides.  These trips both originated at Tokyo Station.  I've always found the Shinkansen part of the station to be more like visiting an airport, but back in the day when flying was still fun.  Tokyo station is the terminal for the Tokaido, Tohoku, Nagano, and Joetsu Shinkansen lines so it's quite busy.

Inside Tokyo Station, below the Shinkansen platforms there are displays showing the trains that will be departing and which tracks they will be on.

The displays are in both Japanese and English and include graphics of the trains.

This display is just for the Tohoku, Nagano, and Joetsu Shinkansen lines.  The Tokaido Shinkansen line uses different tracks and has it's own similar display.

I have always noticed that even among the Japanese there is more excitement about going on the Shinkansen.  Notice the platform in the photo, I'm not the only one taking photos of this E5 / E6 lash up.

Each arriving train that is going to then go back out again is met by a large team of people who service the train after the arriving passengers have left the train and before the departing passengers are allowed to board.  You always get a fresh train with leaving from Tokyo station.

Someones post on the JNS forum led me to this story about the cleaning of the Shinkansen trains.

Here is Tamami and Nona on the way back from Osaka on an N700 Hikari service.

We were enjoying drinks, a smooth and fast ride, and way more leg room.  The Shinkansen is still my favorite way to travel.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Finishing the Green Max stores

One of the mini-projects that has been going on for a long time is the block of Green Max stores just to the left of the arcade entrance.

When I left off on this project more than a year ago the Dry Cleaners with interior details and lighting was done and I had started a Book Store that would also be detailed and lighted.

For the Book Store interior I printed a floor similar to how I had done with the dry cleaners then added a couple of book cases, a counter with cash register, and a couple of figures.  I also printed some book cases on the interior walls and added lighting similar to the Dry Cleaners.

The tall building I am using is from Green Max kit 46-6.  I gave it a base coat of Floquil Oxide Red with an airbrush then hand painted all the details.  With all the windows that this building has that took a while.

The store fronts on these taller Green Max building kits are the same size and interchangeable with the ones in the set of small shops.  I used one that had two doors so one could be the lobby of the upper floors and the other for a celluar phone store on the ground floor.

Here is the completed block of Green Max stores,mounted on their styrene base.  I have put labels under each one showing what they are.  Some of them may be familiar from other posts. This scene is now ready to be added to the module.

This is only one of several long uncompleted projects related to these modules which I hope to complete in the near future.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How narrow can a building be ?

The scheduled expostition for the AsiaNrail layout and the Musashi-Koyama modules has me working to finish a few more of the buildings on those modules and I'll be posting about that soon.  Working on buildings I remembered a real interesting one we saw during our recent trip and I would like to share that now.

Anyone who has scratch built or kit bashed a structure to fit into that odd small space on their layout or module might wonder if they are making a structure that is unrealistic.  Well maybe for American prototype that could be a concern but as I am continuing to find out buildings can be quite small or narrow in Japan which is great for those of us modeling Japanese prototype.  Check out the photos below that I took early one July morning in the Namba district of Osaka.

End View

When we first approached this structure while walking down the street, I thought it was some sort of a wall.

It's actually narrower than the narrow streets.

Side view

Once we were along side of it I saw the windows and realized that this is actually a long, very narrow building.  Most of the building had 3 levels.

After seeing this I think we can all relax and build whatever we want, there's probably a prototype for it somewhere in Japan.