Keith's Ham Radio

Ham Radio Travels  

Tokyo and Ham Fair 2017 

In early September, 2017 I had the distinct honor of being an "ambassador" for the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) at the big Tokyo Ham Radio Fair in Tokyo, Japan.  Our mission was to personally invite Japanese hams to join us in Dayton, Ohio USA for next year's big Dayton Hamvention®However, unlike the Dayton Hamvention, which is sponsored by a local (albeit one of the largest!) amateur radio clubs in the United States (DARA), the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL, the Japanese equivalent of our American Radio Relay League (ARRL) or Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC)), conducts the Tokyo Ham Fair each year.


However, while Hamvention recently moved from its long-time home at Dayton’s Hara Arena (which is now closed) to new “digs” at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio, the Ham Fair is held in a HUGE convention complex called the “Tokyo Big Sight”. In fact, the complex is so massive that the Ham Fair occupied only one of many large convention areas at the venue. And all of it was conducted under a single, massive roof.  Needless to say, our booth at the 2017 Ham Fair was very busy. We spoke with hundreds of Japanese hams, posed with scores them for countless pictures (and gave away all of the 1600 Hamvention “trinkets” that we brought along!) during the two-day event.  I've since learned that this year’s Ham Fair attendance was somewhat increased from previous years, with over 39,000 hams from all over the world in attendance. Clearly, like the Dayton Hamvention, it’s a world-class event for radio amateurs as well as short-wave listeners and scanner enthusiasts. 


One of the other highlights of the show were on-stage performances by two renowned Japanese television and radio personalities (as well as recording artists) Kaori Mizuta and Ishizaki Rie. Both of these ladies are also ham radio operators JI1BTL and JI1IWL respectively. Kaori is host to a number of ham-radio related programs on a local Tokyo FM station, and even did a live broadcast of her Ham Radio For Girls program from the show which features her singing her show's opening song called "CQ, CQ, Hello CQ". A photo of Kaori doing her live broadcast from the show is shown below.


The Akihabara


Just prior and just after the event, members of our Dayton Hamvention team and I also visited the Akihabara section of downtown Tokyo. Called “Electric Town”, it’s the district in Tokyo where one can find all manner of electronic equipment being offered. On my two previous trips to Japan, there were upwards of 9 amateur radio shops located within a 3-block area within the Akihabara. However, this time, that number had dropped to only three or four, with all manner of other electronic offerings (including cell phone accessories and computers) in countless other shops in the district.  


One of the largest ham radio stores in the Akihabara (called “Rocket”) even has its own SONG that is posted as an MP3 on their Web Site and is continuously played on speakers within the store as you visit. The song can be found (and played!) HERE.  The song was written by Hiromi Fukunaga and Tokhiyukli Omori and performed by Toko Takashi and the Shinichi Ishibara Chorus.  While most of the words are in Japanese, the title “Welcome To Rocket” appears a couple of times while the song plays. 


One of the other features of the Akihabara district are the numerous small electronic parts kiosks located within several of the buildings. These little vendor areas are often so small that one can barely see the proprietor tucked away behind their vast array of specialized electronic parts. In fact, these merchants are often so specialized that one will sell only electronic switches. Another offers only resistors, while another vendor’s specialty is every kind of electronic plug that you can imagine. And it’s all located within one or two (often multi-floored) buildings in the Akihabara. 


Clearly, the Akihabara is a radio hamfest on steroids…and it happens every single day of the week! Any visit to Tokyo for a ham radio or short-wave enthusiast should include at least one morning or afternoon of browsing around the Akihabara on your itinerary!

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The 2017 Tokyo Ham Fair, sponsored by the Japanese Amateur 
Radio League (JARL) was held over our Labor Day weekend 
at the Tokyo Big Sight, a huge convention complex in the 
Waterfront District of Tokyo, Japan.


  The 2017 Tokyo Ham Fair was just one of several ongoing 
conventions being conducted at the Tokyo Big Sight.

  Several JARL and International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) 
officials did the ribbon cutting to formally open the show. The
 ceremony was complete with a Japanese military band 
providing fanfare music.


Dayton Hamvention members at our booth at the show included
 (from left) Michael Kalter W8CI, DARA Treasurer, Tim Duffy 
K3LR, yours truly and Jay Slough K4ZLE. 

Being the AMSAT-North America Treasurer, I took some time out to 
stop by and visit with our Japanese compatriots at their JAMSAT booth.

One of the new radios featured at the show was the 
ICOM IC-9700, a VHF/UHF, all-mode, and satellite-capable 
radio. It features variable power output of 50W for VHF and UHF 
and 10W output on 1.2 GHz.


 A budding Japanese radio enthusiast assembles one of the many 
radio kits that were made available to youngsters in a 
construction area set aside exclusively for that purpose 
at the show.

A future Japanese ham operator moons for the camera at the 
2017 Tokyo Ham Fair.


 Kaori Mizuta, JI1BTL (left) does a live broadcast of her
  Ham Radio For Girls FM Radio program from the show which 
features her opening song called
"CQ, CQ, Hello CQ". 


As with any amateur radio convention, there is usually more to look 
at that one could possibly see in a single day.

Many amateur radio dealers wrap their display items in plastic so 
as to keep the items clean of oily fingerprints for a later, actual sale

The Alinco Radio booth at the Ham Fair. The major manufacturer 
booths were all located in the same general location, labeled as 
the “JAIA area”.  The JAIA, also known as the Japan Amateur 
Industry Association, is a consortium of major amateur radio 
manufacturers in Japan.

Many of the large Japanese manufacturer booths were giving 
away various promotional items to passersby.


Yours truly meets with one of the many costumed characters that 
were wandering about at the show.

These lovely ladies were passing out various Kenwood-themed items 
at the Ham Fair.

 Many  Japanese radio hams stopped by our booth to chat about 
coming to the United States and the Dayton Hamvention sometime 
in the future.

Yaesu was well represented by its large booth at the show.

The ICOM booth also attracted its share of passersby.

The Akihabara (“Electric Town”) district of Tokyo, Japan is readily 
accessible via the Japanese National Railroad (JNR) and the 
Tokyo subway.

Yours Truly pauses in front of one of the larger amateur radio shops
 (the “Rocket” Store) in the Akihabara area of Tokyo.

Several hand-held scanners as well as HF short-wave radios are on 
display in the Rocket Store.


While the Rocket Store caters primarily to amateur radio 
enthusiasts, the scanner and short-wave listener’s equipment 
needs are also well addressed in the Rocket Store’s offerings.

Throughout the Akihabara section of Tokyo, I found the prices for 
equipment …even those so-called “tax free” prices for 
export…were significantly higher than those of the 
North American market.


All manner of VHF/UHF hand-held radios are available in the 
Rocket Store in Tokyo’s Akihabara.

The Rocket store offers all manner of amateur radio accessories as 
well as radio equipment. They even have their own song:
"Welcome to Rocket"
that plays on speakers in the store 
while you shop.


The more expensive amateur base stations were also on display at 
the Rocket Store in Tokyo’s Akihabara.

Petty theft is apparently not a big issue in Japan as many merchants 
routinely place their various offerings out on the street in 
front of their shops.


 Another common sight in the radio shops of the Akihabara 
(much like at the Ham Fair)  is for the larger radios to be wrapped 
tightly in clear plastic, ostensibly to keep that display radio free 
of oily fingerprints for later sale.

One of the other features of the Akihabara district are the numerous 
small electronic parts kiosks located within several of the buildings. 
These areas are often so small that one can barely see the
proprietor behind all of their offerings!


This vendor offers a wide array of electronic connectors. 


A number of the Akihabara’s electronic parts merchants are 
often so specialized that one will sell only electronic switches. 
Another offers only resistors, while another vendor’s specialty 
is every kind of electronic plug that you can imagine.

Many other vendors in the Akihabara area of Tokyo offer the full 
range of amateur radio equipment for sale.

You can view a complete photo set from my Tokyo trip at: Enjoy!