Ham Activities from Japan – May 2004 – Call JA1GAF/KA5MAL

I was dreaming to visit Japan for a long time. The opportunity came when my company (morning QTH) wanted to do a demonstration to a Japanese company. My mission was to meet with the Japanese company, organize the demo and train Japanese engineers within 2 weeks.

The business schedule was very tightly planned with meetings every day and discussions and trainings now and then. It was very hard to escape from the schedule for my hobby. But I was talking to my good friend Satake JA2SWH who is from Nagoya but residing in Funabashi, Tokyo for going to work. Satake was working in Sri Lanka for a leading telecom company few years ago and he was known to me since then. Finally I got a chance to escape from work and spend a day with him.

We initially went to a place called ‘Akihabara’, which is a very well known place for ham radio gear. Satake was telling me that this place was full of ham shops about a decade ago but now it is occupied by computer shops. We visited all the ham shops to have a look see. It was interesting though. There are many goodies mostly Japanese made.

After the Akihabara visit, we went to Satake’s home QTH as planned. We were picked up by Satake’s XYL at the train stn. I had the rare opportunity to meet Satake’s XYL (Reiko) and his eldest son(Hironori) and Daughter(Misako). His younger son was out of home QTH.

After the Dx session, I was invited to join them for a nice traditional Japanese dinner. In that, I was able to exchange ideas with Hironori and Misako about their culture and their experience when they visited Sri Lanka some years ago. I was praised by Reiko for good handling of the sticks for eating Japanese food. I also explained to them why we, Sri Lankans use our hands to eat. A final note on Japanese food. There are many varieties of food dishes that a Japanese restaurant offers. But the main problem was to order them since the menus are mostly in Japanese. Japanese people like to eat raw fish and meat which is different from the Sri lankan style. It is very common to sit on the floor around the dining table. Most dishes are also been shared by the group.

The obvious reason for this visit was to operate Satake’s ham station . Since Sri Lanka do not have a reciprocal agreement with Japan , I had to use my US callsign as JA1GAF/KA5MAL to operate as a guest operator. I was able to work 4S7EA, good friend Ernest from Sri Lanka. I have also worked few other hams from Australia, Europe and South East Asia. It was a new experience to operate from Japan. The world looks different from this country too (HI!). Once I heard a big signal from KH0 station, I was thrilled. Satake informed that KH0 is very close to JA. KH0 is a rare Dx for 4S7.

JA1GAF is Satake’s Tokyo Callsign which I used while operating his station.

Japan has one of the world’s largest ham populations. Japanese hams are also known as polite operators. As a ham from a rare Dx country, I know how important this politeness is, since we cope up with pileups all the time.

Satake has a FT 847 with a 2 el 5 band cubical quad for HF. 

While travelling around Tokyo, I saw many HF and VHF Ham antennas . Some pics are below;

 

JA2SWH and 4S7AB
JA1GAF/KA5MAL working Dx.
At Akihabara, 2004-05-22 Photo taken by Satake JA2SWH
Satake's family members