In the spring of 2007 Matthew Davis (one of JRM's founding members) and his wife Stefanie packed up their basic possessions and two large Akita dogs and headed for Japan for two years. They had decided to spend two years living in Japan! They wound up about 500km north of Tokyo in Iwate Prefecture. Thus Matthew became JRM's official ambassador to Japan!
Matthew quickly found and became active with the local train club, the Iwate Rail Modelers' Circle (IRC.) The IRC enjoyed having an American railroad enthusiast in their midst for the two year term and wanted to extend the relationship past Matthew's visit and proposed having a sister club agreement between IRC and JRM. Thru Matthew a sister club agreement was reached to tie the club together in friendship and common interests, but also calls for the two groups to introduce each other at public events in their regions and exchange information about railroading in their respective nations. We hope to present IRC's activities here on the JRM website and with poster presentations at shows, as well as more public presentation of Japanese railroads.
A "golden spike" ceremony was attended by Matthew, members of IRC, people from the community, the press, and Kenichi Yoshida, former stationmaster of Mizusawa Station on April 25, 2009. The ceremony was carried in the local press. More information on the event is available here.
It is interesting to note that Iwate and Washington, DC both reside on the 39th parallel, although 11,000km apart!
We are sure that the future brings a very delightful and successful sister club relationship with the IRC and provide a very enriching experience for both organizations. Both clubs owe a debt of gratitude to Matthew for being the ambassador that allowed this unique and interesting relationship to be formed.