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 Where? Iruma - Japan
When? 03/11/2005

Once again we got up early on the 5th day of our trip, because that we would have our first Japanese Airshow at Iruma. Japanese friends we met the year before in Europehave told us that they have never been to Iruma, because "there are too many people". We could not understand that totally, but we should learn during the course of the day!

 Though the airfield in the middle of the suburbs of Tokyo we found it quite easily and soon got stuck in a traffic jam, which led to a parking place. Of course we were more clever, drove by and were looking for another lace to park our car nearby. In a small street we finally discovered a space and parked there. As we got of the car a Japanese woman was shouting at us, but we could not understand her. She also tried to speak English, but everything we understood was "…friend…". Well, nothing serious, as the signs did not indicate that it was forbidden to park there, so we continued to get our bagpacks and ladders out of the van and went to the queue to get. It was 7 o'clock in the morning…
There were already quite a lot of people who also arrived from Tokyo by train and we realized that airshow freaks of the far east did not differ that much. We saw stepladders, vests and caps with patches, radio scanners and so on. However the procedure to get in was really really strange. Officially the show opened at 9a.m., but already one our earlier the queue began to move. But only a little bit inside and was stopped a bit afterwards. As this was repeated three times we suspecetd that they did not want the people stand on the street outside. In the meantime it also became cramped and we could not nearly move, furthermore the typical Japanese politeliness seemed to have dissappeard as everything was trying to be as ahead as possible. While waiting I also stepped on the ladder and took a photo of the crowd from above. The people look amazed as they supposedly did not expect to see an European there. The stop-and-go-game was reapeted some more times and was really a pain in the neck, because we could already see the flightline around one kilometer away.
 Suddenly, the rope in front of the queue was lifted and everybody started to run. It was a real revolt and a battle to be the first. Some people even stumbled and fell on the ground. Our only chance not to get overrun was to join in - with no breakfast, heavy bagpacks and the ladders that was no fun and a real sportive test. Patrick was a bit behind while Florian and I kept up with the Japanese and played of our airshow experience to look for a good photo spot on an unknown airfield wile running like hell. We spotted a nice corner, settled down there and recovered from the morning sport.
Exhausted we had a first look at the nice static display: nearly one type of every JASDF aircraft was present as well as some helicopters.

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Unfortunately the weather was not very good during the show with only minor bright spells during which we splitted up and tried to do our best to get at least some good photos of the parked aircraft. That was demanding because inthe meantime the wholeapron was covered with visitors and their plastic blankets. Of course we tried to be polite and not to step on them (the blankets ;)), but with only some centimeters of free space beetwen them and a lot of photos to take we also stepped on that "private property" several times, and earned angry looks. Sorry for that, but it was necessary…

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 getting tired...

 

The flight program was sparse with a lot of local T-4 flying in front of a gray sky, a very impressive 6-ship formation of C-1s during bad weather as well and other demos of Iruma based aircraft as the YS-11 flightchecker or helicopters.

 

 

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 Japanese airshow crowd


At the end of the day the Blue Impulse performed, accompagnied by several thousands of visitors screaming "AAAaaaaaa" s and "OoooooOOOoooooo"s. That was very amusing to us and at least they had some sun during their performance.

 

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 thousands of people


For the fly-out of all the guests the weather was bad again. Unfortunately, because it would have been really great to capture the departure of the F-15, F-4 and all the helicopters with the sun. As the last aircraft left, the whole crowd was fastly sweeped out and we had a look at the souvenirs, but did not find anything exciting, so we returned to our car as well.

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 our ticket...Strangely all the cars around ours had already disappeared and we saw a small orange plasticbag chained to our bumper. With all the chalk writing on the street it did not take a lot of time to realize that we got a ticket. On the notice inside the bag everything was of course written in Kanji. Fortunately we found a helpful walker who pointed us the way to the nearest policestation.
 in front of the Police StationDriving there we already calculated how much our vacation fund would shrink within the next hour… At the station we were treated really friendly, but the main problem was to find someone who speaked English. During this time we explained our situation  Love Hotel with Mickey Mouseseveral times but only earned questionable looks. After some time an officer disappeared with our papers and we got a bit worried. Waiting some more veeeery long minutes finally an English speaking policewomen arrived to whom we could explain the situation once more. We learned that they have been called (guess by whom…) because we 'blocked' someones doorway. With the help of the photos the police has taken we argued that there was still enough place and no signs around. Fortunately they agreed on our view and we did not have to pay anything. Only Xxxxx had to sign a paper stating that he would not park illegally anymore in Japan. That was OK for us as we had two more drivers left for the next time ;)
After nearly one hour we left the station relieved but nevertheless with a strange feeling and continued our drive towards Gifu. It was foggy and grey and the drive was very tyring. After some bad food along the highway we found another strange love hotel (7200Yen) near the airbase, took a shower and slept well once more.
[This report is also included in the Japan Trip Report]

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