Photos from Japan Trip in January 2006


04 Feb. 2006

I had to go back to Japan for acquiring an H-1B working visa.  I have been in U.S. with a J-1 exchange visitor visa, and 3 years period of my J-1 was about to expire.  To acquire an H-1B visa, I had to have an interview at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo.  The interview was scheduled on January 11th.  This time I used a travel agency to prepare paperwork and arrange the interview, and I had to submit some documents to the travel agency earlier.  So, I returned to Japan on December 27th.  The U.S. embassy told that I should expect at least 7 days after the interview for visa processing.  To be absolutely safe, I took two weeks after the interview and planned to come back to Pittsburgh on January 31st.

It is in general more expensive to buy stuffs in Japan than in U.S.  However, in these days, due to strong U.S. dollars against Japanese yen, some stuffs were cheaper in Japan than in U.S.  I finally decided to buy a digital SLR this time.  I've been using Pentax cameras for long time and have some lenses for Pentax SLR.  So, I chose Pentax *istDS2.  I checked the price with http://www.kakaku.com (Japanese counterpart of http://www.pricegrabber.com) before leaving Pittsburgh, and visited the shop that offered the best price and purchased it.

For familiarizing *istDS2, I went to Tokyo Haneda International airport first.  My primary target was Japan Airlines airplanes with a crane symbol.  Japan Airlines is changing their symbol from a crane to a partial circle, but I personally like the crane symbol better.

Japan Airlines Boeing 777 with the crane symbol on the vertical stabilizer.
The same airplane coming to the gate.
It's not the one taken by *istDS2, but it's the Hirosaki castle located near my home.

I've been feeling that a digital SLR captures details that an ordinary film cannot capture.  I suppose that the CCD of a digital SLR must have a comparable quality to a professional grade film because we cannot change films with a digital SLR.  Unless the CCD has such a good quality, we can never take full advantage of a high grade lenses and there would be no point to use a digital SLR.  In fact I was impressed by the quality of pictures taken by my *istDS2.

I stayed in Hirosaki until January 4th, and headed to Sendai to visit Matsushima Airbase.  I visit Matsushima base at least once every time I visit Japan.  I have some friends there, and Matsushima base is the home of Japanese Airforce's Aerobatic Team 'Blue Impulse.'  However, for some reason, after I moved to Pittsburgh, I always missed a practice session of Blue Impulse over the base, and haven't seen their aerobatics for more than 8 years.  But this time my friend there told that they would practice aerobatic maneuvers over the base on January 6th.  I was looking forward to seeing the aerobatics.

Mitsubishi F-2.
T-4 Blue Impulse.  January 5th.  They often performs what they call 'one-time-acro' before heading to the practice area over the ocean.
A Blue Impulse T-4 on final RW25, returning from the practice area.  My friend gave me a ride and we could move around the base freely.
January 6th.  T-4 Blue Impulse aerobatic practice over the base!  I was watching from the RW33 final approach area.
It was supposed to be a diamond.  #4 airplane was missing in the practice.
Wide to Delta Loop.
*istDS2 gave me this nice shot!  It renews the best shot of my airplane fan career.  I can read letters "NO STEP" marked over the wing.
F-2 again.  The instructor (presumably) waved back to us.

On January 7th, I left Sendai and headed to Tokyo.  I had three days before the interview at the U.S. embassy.  I used this opportunity to go to Tokyo Haneda airport, and Iruma airbase.  My main target at the Iruma airbase was YS11.  YS11 was the only one airliner that Japan manufactured after the WWII.  All civilian version YS11s will retire before the end of 2006, and I suppose military version YS11 will retire in a few days as well.  Probably my opportunity of taking photos of YS11 will be limited, and it was a good timing for me to go for it.

From the observation deck of Haneda airport.
Continued from the above.
At Iruma base.  YS11 #160.
U-125.  It doesn't look so dark on the LCD display of the camera, but I might have chosen a little too dark setting.
Kawaski C-1.
Kawaski T-4.
T-4 again.

I omit the details of the rest of the trip.  I just show some photos from the trip below.

On January 11th.  From the observation deck of the Narita New-Tokyo International Airport.
On January 25.  From the observation deck of the Haneda Tokyo International Airport.
I didn't know that there's an observation deck on the terminal 2 of the Haneda airport.
From the same position.
Japanese Coast Guard's YS11 took off from a different runway, but it was too far away from my position.
JAL Crane symbol again.
ANA's Pokemon Jet.
JAL Crane symbol again.
A sparrow on the observation deck of terminal 1.
A sparrow on the observation deck of terminal 1.
Mt. Fuji taken from the airplane Haneda->Fukuoka.

The day before returning to Pittsburgh, I visited Iruma base again.  5-day forecast predicted cloudy sky, but the cloud came late, and the sky was clear while I was standing on the perimeter of the base.  I left my hotel at 5:30am and arrived at the base at 8:00am, and I was watching airplanes till 4:00pm.

YS11 #160.
This YS11 didn't come back by 4:00pm.
The runway changed from 35 to 17 in the afternoon.  Ideal condition for taking landing and taxing from the north spot.
YS11 taking off.
At around 3:00pm.  YS11 #154 came back and did some touch & goes.
YS11 #154.
Close up look of YS11 #154.
U-125.  The light getting redder.
4pm.  T-4 #777 came back.  I hoped it came back a little earlier so that I could take a little crisper photo.

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