are a lot like most other dedicated hobbyists in that when it comes
to enthusiasm in their chosen pastimes, there are no international barriers.
Such is evident by this 1933 article in QST magazine reporting on a
Hamfest in Japan. The world was a much larger place back then with propeller-driven
airplanes making multiple stops on their way around the globe, transcontinental
telephone was a service reserved mostly for the wealthy, and postal
mail could (and often did) took weeks or months to be delivered from
Iowa to Tokyo. The first television broadcasts were only a few years
old so other than visiting far off lands, movies and photos were the
only exposure the vast majority of people had to foreign cultures. Amateur
radio operators of all social and economic standings were more cosmopolitan
than most corporate managers in 1933.
January 1933 QST
of Contents]These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the
ARRL's QST magazine. Here is a list of the
QST articles I have already posted. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
See all available
vintage QST articles.
A Japanese Hamfest
By W.S. Upson, Ex-W6IP
been a long time since I grabbed the old mill to shoot anything through
to HQ, but this is so darned good it's about time something was done
about it. So little has been said about foreign hamfests and so much
about our own affairs that I hope this will even things up a little.
Just by way of explaining how I happen to know anything about Japanese
hamfests, let it be known that KDNV, sometimes known by the uninitiated
as the President Pierce, would have a hard time behaving herself if
it weren't for the juice pumped into her 5-kw. pot and her l-kw. tube.
I'm de guy wot does de pumpin'. Well, we hit Yokohama and Kobe twice
each trip and get enough time there to make us want a little more. In
good plain English, we like it a lot.
This time we arrived at
Yokohama with twelve long hours ahead with nothing to do. We decided
to call up Mr. Tsuto Ishii (J1EM), who is one of the engineers at the
Yokohama telephone repeater station. We got a rickshaw boy to haul us
to "California Frank's" where we hoisted a few. And then from there
we sent the boy to Ishii-San with a note. Dunno what Ishii-San told
him, but in nothing flat he was back running as if all the demons in
China were riding his 'shaw. He herded us into his and another and took
us to the telephone office. Oh yes, as part of the introduction, let
me say the famous W6ASH, one time high-class ham traffic handler for
the Eastbay Section, is now our gallant kid third op and, in case anyone
should ask, tell 'em I'm ex-W6IP, but please don't spread it around
Ishii-San was waiting for us, all smiles and
bows and with three women (old ones), waiting for us with trays of tea
and cakes. That's one good thing about Japan. If you're hungry, call
on a friend. You're sure to get a cup of tea, and it sure hits the spot
sometimes. For about a year, J1EO, Mr. Shima of Tokyo and myself have
been trying to click. Either he has been QRL or I have. This time we
got through to him on the phone from Ishii-San's office and, wonderful,
he was home. He said he'd wait for us to get there and, although we
were not dressed for any fancy calling, or high-class receptions, we
had no time to change, so off we went. On the way to the Yokohama station,
we picked up Mr. Seiichi Nozaki, also of Yoko, who has as yet no transmitting
license but only a permit to receive. He expects to be on the air soon,
however. We got on the train finally and, about forty minutes later,
dropped off at Tokyo. Here Shima-San, J1EO, was waiting. Hot Dawg, you
should have seen the bowing and scraping that went on. Poor "Ash" hadn't
ever met any Japanese people before and didn't know how to bow or say
anything. He is only a kid and blushes like a school girl. Of course
I broke out my two words of Japanese greeting and then forgot the third.
Oh well, we all have our little difficulties.
the hill we started toward Shima-San's home, and, believe me, you've
only lived half your life until the time you walk up a narrow little
lane in some Japanese town, lined on both sides with hedges or fences
just high enough so one can get tantalizing glimpses of what's going
on inside. And every home has its garden, and the odors of the flowers
- aw well, come and see it yourself. Just pick up any magazine and learn
to be a first-class commercial operator in twelve easy lessons. We reached
his home after walking half a mile or so and, after being greeted in
the Japanese manner by a pretty little Japanese maid and removing our
shoes, we entered. His home is beautiful to say the least, but this
ain't a discussion on arch - well, homes, then, so we went upstairs
to the shack. The gang was there, boy, and how! J1CP, J1DI, JIED and
others whose calls I've forgotten. Greetings? Mister, that ain't the
half of it, and what was even better, a nice ice cold drink of strawberry
juice (unfermented). Of course the set was the first thing we wanted
to see. Thirty watts output, crystal control and he's R5 to 6 QSA 4,
any morning in the States on a haywire receiver, worked all continents
and darned near all countries. But when you see the workmanship in that,
and all other Japanese ham sets, you begin to realize how they can do
it. The walls of Shima-San's shack are lined on all sides with charts,
graphs, and prints. He is a student of the University of Tokyo, already
holds one degree, has invented a new "mic" that's a wow, and designed
and installed the public address system used in conjunction with the
Far East Olympic Games held in Japan a year or so ago. He's not the
only one, either. J3CT of Osaka uses a single 210 and gets across to
the States as one of the four loudest "J" stations, and it is seldom
his input exceeds forty watts. Poor "Ash," he was sure up in the air.
He had expected to see power, and lots of it, and that little aluminum
can was a sad disappointment. He was trying to juggle a cup of tea,
eat a tea cake and take in receiver and transmitter at the same time.
It nearly proved too much for my sense of dignity and decorum, but I
managed to hang on.
we'd seen all the sets and equipment, Shima-San invited us to chow,
the universally understood word in the ham language and the most appreciated.
We went to another room where the table was set just one foot above
the floor level, where the chairs were cushions, and the plates lacquered
wooden dishes. The chow was strictly Japanese, served by two very pretty
little Japanese maids. (Too darn much QRM in Nippon to make eating altogether
a pleasure.) Rice and fish, cooked in the little lacquered dish, seaweed
soup and a sauce. Believe me, if you want good chow, come to Japan -
but take those twenty easy lessons first. After finishing up everything
in sight, Shima-San invited us to take a look at the view from the window
of this room. He is way up on a hillside and, looking out, one sees
Fuji, Japan's sacred mountain, in the distance, beautiful Tokyo and
its environs in the foreground and, immediately below, Shima-San's own
garden with his little brother and sister playing.
In a few moments
we were asked to seat ourselves again and finish our meal with strawberry
juice and Japanese watermelon. During the meal a very learned discussion
on the relative merits of Japanese and American YL's was held, which
only goes to prove that hams are hams the world over and, anyway, you
should see some of these Japanese YL's. Finally it was all over and,
with a sigh of pure contentment, we arose; that is, all but "Ash." He
was so cramped from sitting cross-legged on a cushion that it took three
men and the ship's cook to get his legs straightened out.
we only get twelve hours in Yokohama and I had a heavy date in Kobe,
so we had to leave. Say, you want to take a ride in a Japanese train
if you want a real thrill. I've been in China coast typhoons, in Tahantapec
gales and Hatteras blows, but never have been seasick except on a Japanese
train. Wham!! go, say, the only thing that makes 'em slow down is a
red signal, and they only show them on the first day of May and next
week at two o'clock. We hung on to straps, stanchions, bags, hats and
the ladies' hair and finally reached Yoko right side up and undamaged.
The whole gang was with us. I lost count after a while, but I think
there were ten of them all wanting to see the ship's s.w. set and to
bid these two great hulking noisy foreigners bon voyage. The Quartermaster
at the gangway thought it was an invasion and I had to promise him beaucoup
trinkets before he'd let us aboard. The gang thought the ship's layout
hot stuff and sure had a swell time looking over the ship, my room,
including many photos on the bulkheads and the shack. We left Yoko finally
to a chorus of banzais and sayonaras from this great gang of chaps on
The whole thing took me back to the old days when a
feller walking down the street of a strange town and seeing an antenna,
especially if it had four wires and a white pole, immediately went up
and punched the front doorbell and asked to see the op. Them days is
gone forever in the States, but you still are sure of a welcome if you
pull it over here. Talk about friendship; say, I'm going to need a third
op one of these days, and you want to come over. I'll guarantee you
all a heck of a good time and a copy of the JARL Mag.