The Showa era was officially over when the Showa Emperor passed away in 1989. Current Showa era nostalgia is post-war baby boom Showa running from the early late Fifties to early Eighties. Real Showa era shops are disappearing at an increasingly rapid rate as mom and pop retire and shutter the family store.
One last Showa store still graces the Asagaya Pearl Center Shopping Arcade: Saito Convenience Store. Most days the Saito store is shuttered but when Mr. Saito is in the mood, he opens the store and rolls out an eccentric display of senbei rice crackers and vinyl umbrellas (on rainy days).
The last photo shows Saito Convenience Store in fading Showa glory: stylish multi-color hiragana signage, lonely looking senbei bags on a display cart, vinyl umbrellas and a Honda Super Cub delivery bike parked in front. You can’t get more ‘last Showa standing’ than this. In an era of chain stores sweeping away the last vestiges of mom and pop, I hope Mr. Saito will be around for years to come.
The JR East Suica penguin character is a clever sly cultural reference to pre-war, and post-war, European remarks that Japan is an island full of ‘busy little penguins’. Laughing at oneself instantly disarms negative comments from another. Laughing together cures all. I love the Suica penguin.
The Miyako Harbor Line was a short freight spur line off the Yamada line in Miyako to service ships. Built during the Pacific war, it was abandoned in 1984 just before JNR was privatized. Here is an old map fragment that shows the old line in red.
Old hand drawn maps have a warmth that is beguiling. The 3D effect created by the contour lines is amazing. Cartography really is an art.
One of the cool Suica Apple Pay features shown in the Apple Pay Japan marketing blitz is Green Car “touch and sit” seating. In the JR East ad Ryuhei Matsuda holds his Suica Apple Pay iPhone 7 up to the Suica touch area of the Green Car and boom, he appears all done.
It looks like magic but the actual purchase takes place in the Suica app, which is slightly less cool: input your embark and debark station points, hit the Apple Pay purchase button and you are good to go. The purchase is good for all day between your purchased station points. Get on a regular train, find an empty Green Car seat red LED spot and touch your iPhone 7/Apple Watch Series 2 device just like Ryuhei Matsuda.
All things considered, it’s still cool. Now if I only had a generous travel expense account, I would be all set for JR East train travel bliss.