N-scale Layout, Japanese Style


Dick H

Japanese apartments are small - really small. I lived in a typical "modern" 2DK in Tokyo. A 2DK is 2 rooms with a Dining Kitchen. They kindly throw in a toilet and a bath (separate rooms just big enough to get into).
The 2 rooms are approx. 9'X12', called 6-mat rooms. One is the bedroom, the other is the living room.
This leaves zero space for model trains. There is, however, a version of a western chair rail that runs around the room just over the doorway. I made brackets that hung over it and attached 7" or 8" wide boards running completely around the room. That gave me about a 30' run, wide enough for 3 tracks. At some spots I made sidings, so there was basically a double track, 30' long. I made a flyover between the 2 tracks that gave me a total run of about 60', all in one direction.
For storage, I built a yard on top of a bookcase.

This is the living room.

This shows the yard on the bookcase.

Closer shot of the yard.

So I guess the moral of this story is, "If there's a will, there's a way".
Ingenious to say the least! The only thing I don't see is your ladder or stepstool. You need one with casters that retract when you step on the ladder. :)

What a great idea for displaying and using your wonderful collection! I'm inspired to do something like that with the HO set my kids gave me for Christmas some years ago.
"If there's a will, there's a way".
Yep. I certainly agree, however I glad this Will doesn't live in Japan :D
Real neat job you made of it, but too much climbing for my old legs.
Does your track go all around the room? It seems like the shelf in the first photo does.
Nice photo's thanks for posting them.
Cheers Willis.
CB&CNSfan said:
Yep. I certainly agree, however I glad this Will doesn't live in Japan ... Does your track go all around the room?
Cheers Willis.

Yes, it goes all around the room - about 30' total.
Ten years ago, the rent for our "Rabbit Hutch", as some Japanese
fondly call them, was Y92,000. That is about US$850 at today's
exchange rate. Now you are probably MORE glad you don't live there. :)
US $850 = CDN. $1,063.69 my gosh you could rent a mansion here for that $$$$. Yep I'm quite happy where I am. I like to travel once in awhile though, just to see what I'm not missing :D.

I just had a look at Dick H.'s pages, some pretty nice photography.

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JR Higashi Nihon


It is so awesome to see someone else that has done a japanese layout. :D It is so hard to find anyone with any info at all regarding Japanese trains! :rolleyes: I am currently in Kanagawa living on one of the Military Housing Annexes. I used to live out in town though, and I could have never imagined my wife ever letting me put trains up like that! :mad: Awesome idea!! Have you ever done a table layout? I'm working on one but it's being delayed due to money (or lack of it that is). Do you have a favorite supplier you used for track/trains? Sorry about the questions. It's just that I've never found someone else that's into the japanese trains. Thanks!!! :D :D

Hi Doc,
No. I've never done a table layout.
For models, all the big dept. stores have stuff, but I bought most everything at Green Max. For most of my scratch-built models I found pieces of kits at the main Green Max store in Oyama, Tokyo. They have all sorts of odds and ends that I don't think the other stores have. I suspect it is where they sell off outdated stuff from the factory. There are lots of car side pieces with various size windows and spacing that I found very useful.
They have a new store in Akihabara, but I don't know where it is. It could be in one of the LAOX stores. It is a lot easier for you to get to than Oyama.
Oyama is on the Tobu Tojo line, 3 stops from Ikebukuro. Once you get there, it's not hard to find. I can e-mail a map if you're interested.
There are 5 stores in Yokosuka that sell Green Max stuff. You probably have been to the Hobby Ace in the Shoppers Plaza, next to the base. If you want the address and maps for the other 4, I'll e-mail those as well.

You should join the JR Forum, a free Yahoo group for Japanese modelers.

Green Max site (Japanese only) http://www.greenmax.co.jp

More on Green Max

Here is another Green Max site with 5 stores - maps, etc., all Japanese.

Scroll down to see the 5 stores.
1) Oyama, Tokyo
2) Akihabara, Tokyo
3) Shimo Kitazawa, Tokyo, where Keio Inokashira & Odakyu lines cross.
4) Ebina, Kanagawa At Ebina Sta. (Odakyu & Sotetsu)
5) Osaka



That's awesome info! Thanks for the help! I had been looking into KATO, but if Green Ace is cheaper, I'm all for it. I didn't even know there was a store in Daiei! (I try to stay out of there as much as possible) There's a store that opened up in Sagamihara recently called TamTam. It's a mega-warehouse of just hobby stuff. They have everythin gunder the sun when it comes to trains. It's the cheapest place so far that I've found for track and accessories. As for the place in Akihabara you were talking about, I've been there. It's a LaOx hobby store close to Akihabara JR station. It's 5 stories and the 5th floor is strictly train stuff. It's a little pricey, but it's a perfect place to look if you're hunting for that 1 particular rare train to add to your collection. I guess one day I'll have to fight the crowds at Daiei and look for that store. So were you in the military over here, or are you a CIV? Thanks again for all the info!!


Enjoyed your pictures and necessity is the mother of invention and you certainly made the most of your space. Good work!!!

I'm sure glad I don't live in Japan with how small they are my junk wouldn't come close to fitting.

AmtrakFan said:
I'm sure glad I don't live in Japan with how small they are my junk wouldn't come close to fitting. AmtrakFan

Despite the shortcomings, you can't imagine how it is to live in "railway heaven". Hundreds of different train liveries and designs and you see dozens in a day riding around Tokyo where trains run every 2 to 3 minutes. At some spots you must wait 10 or 15 minutes before there is NO train in sight.
Life revolves around the trains and stations. When someone asks where you live, the answer is "Seibu Ikebukuro line, Hoya station".
And having a car is a liability. In 9 years, I did not have one, did not need one and did not want one.
And having a car is a liability. In 9 years, I did not have one, did not need one and did not want one

Gee! I wish I could say that and mean it, especially with the price of gas nowdays, and still have all the space I have now.
AH! well, guess a fellow can't have everything eh! :D

Cheers Willis
Hello all,

I am desperate for help, and I noticed that the OP of this thread lived in Japan. I hope he's still around because I have a question that I can't seem to find an answer to. I've searched the forums, but I couldn't find anything relevant.

I was just in Japan last week and visited Yodobashi Camera (Dept store) they have a pretty good selection of trains, but I think there are other stores in Tokyo that have much better selections. Yodobashi Camera has locations around Tokyo, the one I went to was in Shinjuku.

So here's my question: I asked the salesman if I would be able to use the Shinkansen (high speed commuter train) model in America. He tried to tell me something about the DC output difference and that it would cause problems unless I was using a Japanese controller. Since I don't speak Japanese, and he didn't speak much English, I had a very hard time understanding what he was trying to say.

I live in South Korea and I am going back to Japan in a few months. I would like to know the full story - will the Japanese Kato made trains work on American controllers and tracks? Will they work if I buy a Japanese controller? Would I have to change the controller every time I want to run my American trains?

I am pretty new to the hobby, so I don't know very much about it.

I really appreciate any help you guys can give me.

I don't know the answer to your question but drop an e-mail to info@Japanese-Trains.com. These guys are in Australia but they are the biggest Japanese train reseller outside of Japan and should have all the answers about any electrical differences you'd have to deal with.
Thanks a lot. I also joined a yahoo group for Japanese trains and Kato answered my question via Email.

This is what Kato rep said:

"Japanese prototypes can be run on American power packs just fan, and vice
versa. He may have been referring to the fact that an American power pack
would not be able to plug into a Japanese wall outlet.

We import very limited runs of Japanese items on an "as-ordered" basis. Once
a month we will put up a listing of upcoming Japanese items available for
pre-order on our website main page; any of those items can be pre-ordered
through a dealer as long as the order is submitted before our due date with
the factory. We do not unfortunately do any widespread importation of
Japanese items due to the limited market."
A little off topic, but I was really impressed with riding the Tokyo subways trains. Here's a couple of shots of the high speed train I want to buy for my collection:



Shot of the driver on one of the subways:


Here's an old subway car outside one of the stations in Japan. People use it for a place to wait when it's cold outside (I guess) for their friends because they're waiting to meet friends.


Interesting note about this station. There was a dog (dogs name Hachiko) Akita - he used to faithfully wait for his master every day to come home from work. One day, the master died at work and didn't come, the dog would come back and wait for him for 10 years and people took notice, when the dog finally died, they erected this statue.

As a very new member here (lurking for a few months) and living in Japan,
I would be interested to hear from anyone else who is either in Japan as I am or modelling Japan.

I am currently loosely modelling a passenger service section of the Niigata area (pics to follow!)

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