Tagged: Gifu

Ex-Meitetsu Mino Station

I took the family in the car for a short drive north through Gifu prefecture to Mino, a beautiful city, known as the home of Japanese paper (washi). Reminiscent of Kyoto and Takayama, Mino has streets filled with traditional houses and many shops selling paper lanterns.

As fascinating as all that is, our 2-year-old boy much prefers trains, so off we went to the former Meitestsu Mino Station!

Ex-Meitetsu Mino Station

The Meitetsu Mino line had a history dating back to 1911. When completed, it served over two dozen locations on the  24.8km track between Mino and Gifu City. In 1999, Mino station was closed down and by April, 2005 the entire Mino line was abolished, apparently replaced by Meitetsu buses.

Today, Mino station remains as a popular tourist attraction, with three and a bit “one-man” trains. I say bit, because the train on the far left in the photo below has been cut in half, leaving just the driver’s section.

3 and a half trains

Back in the day

The waiting area at the station is filled with mementos from the line’s past, such as these old photos that hang on the wall or are laid out on tables.

A snowy morning

A new train?

The Meitetsu Mino Line

All aboard!

You can climb on board the three main trains at the station. One of them almost looks track-worthy while the other two have had most their chairs stripped out and some old equipment and memorabilia put on display in their place.

On board one of the trains

On board one of the trains

On board one of the trains

The "cockpit"

Inside the station

The station itself is crammed with photos, Choro-Q trains, old timetables and much more. I was particularly fond of the sofas, which are actually seats from the trains.

The station master's office

Welcome to Mino station!

Inside the station

Inside the station

Odds and ends

Train seats as sofas

On the platform

Our son had a great time at Mino Station, but unfortunately, it wasn’t because of the trains… not the real ones anyway. On the platform, between the trains, was a huge Plarail set which kept Rikuto more than happy. That wasn’t the only strange sight on the platform. There were a couple of go-karts with nowhere to go, gardens growing where the train buffers were, and most surprising, a bullet train nose cone!

Plarail on the platform

A go-kart with nowhere to go

Gardens for train buffers

A bullet train nose cone

More information

We were only there for half an hour before heading off to Mino’s Ogura park to see the peacocks and turkeys, but we had a great time!

Posing in front of the old trains

The Ex-Meitetsu Mino station is free to enter and a must see if you plan to visit Mino. Here’s a Google map of the location. If you can read Japanese, here are some related Wikipedia links to help you find the area and plan other things to do while you’re there:

New Earthquake Emergency Shelters

Earlier this year, Mike McKinlay and I went to to the Gifu Prefecture Regional Disaster Management Center to try out the earthquake simulator. Being the only visitors all day (and introducing ourselves as big-time Canadian bloggers), the staff treated us like royalty! We were given a personal tour of the facility and they even filmed us trembling like little girls on the simulator.

A ground-shaking experience

The Earthquake simulator! The earthquake simulator, which went up to the maximum Shindo 7, was quite an experience. Japan’s Shindo is a measurement of intensity at a given location, whereas the Richter scale used in the West measures magnitude of an earthquake at its epicenter. Mike will be posting the videos on his own blog soon, along with his lame attempts to escape a burning house rocked by an earthquake in a virtual reality game. Update: Here’s Mike’s post.

The 150,000 yen cardboard box

On our tour of the management disaster center, we were shown the latest and greatest in modern emergency shelters – a cardboard box puzzle house called the Octagon.

Although there’s no mention of price on the manufacturer’s website, we were told you can buy this fantastic new solution to short-term housing problems for 150,000 yen. I asked whether the management disaster staff had already bought one for their own families, but they admitted the price was too high and should an earthquake occur they’d come down to the center to borrow one! I told them I quite understood, and that I would be racing here for my own cardboard house so they better be quick!

They then proceeded to talk us through the construction of the Octagon…

Emergency Shelter

STEP 1 – Grab your cardboard box puzzle house

There are two boxes weighing 41 kilograms each. The instructions recommend two people carry each box.

Step 1

STEP 2 – Find a somewhere to put it

You’ll need a 6m x 6m area, preferably flat, before you can build your new “compact house”.

Step 2

STEP 3 – Slot the panels together

For a nation that grew up with origami, putting this thing together is a doddle.

Step 3

STEP 4 – Put the roof on

You don’t need any special tools, just tape the roof on and you’re done. If there are three of you, you’ll have the house finished in about three hours.

Step 4

STEP 5 – Move the house

Now that the house is finished you can move it… quite how I’m not too sure. Like the guys in the instructions it might be best to just leave it where you built it.

Step 5

STEP 6 – Make a floor

If you flatten out the cases that contained the puzzle, you should have enough cardboard to cover the floor. It’s the equivalent of 6.5 tatami mats which is a reasonable size to live in.

Step 6

STEP 7 – Walk around inside

This critical step involves walking around inside the “tent” so you familiarize yourself with the height and don’t bump your head on the cardboard. The lowest part of the ceiling is 1.5m, and the highest is 2.2m, high enough for even Mike to stand up straight in. Apparently, there’s room for a family of five in this cardboard house, which sounds like a very tight squeeze to me.

Step 7

STEP 8 – Waterproof it!

The final step involves covering the house with waterproof sheets. With care, the cardboard tent will last six months, but you’re advised not to use it in heavy rainfall or strong winds (not that you’d have much choice). They do encourage you to cut out some windows, and when you’re finished, you can recycle the whole house!

Step 8

Stop by for a cuppa tea

The emergency cardboard puzzle house is awesome, just like camping in a tent. Mike and I had a cup of tea and wondered how much cheaper an actual tent would be…

Nick in a cardboard tent

Mike in a cardboard tent

Preparing for the big one

If you are worried about the big earthquake which is supposed to be coming sometime in the next 10,000 years, do yourself a favor and buy a cardboard box puzzle house! If you can read Japanese, go to Sago Mokuzai for more information. There’s also a FAQ worth reading. One question asks whether the Octagon comes with a toilet, and while I was hoping for a more creative answer involving constructing a toilet out of leftover cardboard, the answer is an honest, “No, it doesn’t come with a toilet”.

If you fancy riding the Shindo-7 earthquake simulator, find one in your area here (Japanese).

Gifu Kakamigahara Incinerator

A five-minute drive from our house into the mountains and we’re at the Gifu Kakamigahara Incinerator. Yes, if you read Oh My Gomi – Part 2, you’ll realize this was the place I finally disposed of a bug infested, five-year-old bag of rubbish.

Gifu Kakamigahara Incinerator

Living near an enormous, heavy duty incinerator 

The convenience of living so near to a giant incinerator outweighs the fear of toxic clouds or other environmental concerns. Okay, I realize there won’t be a nuclear meltdown, but I can’t imagine many people wanting to live with this “gasifying and direct melting furnace” in their backyard. 

We visit the incinerator regularly, the last time being when my wife cut down all our trees and I had to unload a car full of branches into the furnace. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take a photo of the forest in my car until after it got turned to smoke.

A map of the incinerator in Gifu Kakamigahara

Instead of that non-existant photo, I’ll show you a map of the incinerator in Kakamigahara, and thanks to the magic of Google Maps, you can look around and get an idea of where I live. Perhaps you’ll see Japan isn’t one huge, dense, urban sprawl after all!

View Larger Map

How to put a Google map in your blog 

If you’d like to put a map on your own site, just go to Google Maps, find the location you want and click “Link to this page”. You’ll be given the code you need to embed the map into your blog.

Aeon Jusco in Kakamigahara, Gifu!

I’m really excited about the new shopping center they’re building on the other side of town. One thing I love about Japan is the convenience of everything, and when it comes to shopping, you can’t beat a shopping center. In all honesty, there’s nothing particularly different between modern shopping malls in Japan and the ones back home, but that won’t stop me welcoming the new Aeon Jusco into my little Japanese world!

So without further ado, I present Kakamigahara’s new shopping center!

Aeon Jusco Kakamigahara

Diamond City Kirio in Ichinomiya CityYeah, okay, so it’s not finished yet, but when it’s done (late summer), it should look something like Ichinomiya City’s Diamond City Kirio, only 50% bigger! According to a Japanese blog which I can’t seem to find again, the land is 1.5 times larger than that of Diamond City, and I’ve heard various stories from students and gas station attendants which vary between “It’ll be the biggest Jusco in the city”, “It’ll be the biggest shopping center in the prefecture”, and “It’ll be the second biggest shopping center in Japan!”

It’s funny actually; I work within ten minutes drive of two of the biggest shopping centers in the area – Colorful Town and Diamond City, yet I rarely visit either of them. Why? Because although they are near, you spend 20 minutes finding a parking space, walking from your car to the elevator and eventually arriving on the shop floor.

Fortunately, this new shopping center is actually on my way to work. See that road in the picture at the top? I drive on that road everyday. So although I might find shopping far more convenient, the endless traffic jams could make my daily commute a nightmare! Yikes!