N-TRAK Modules of Japan
by Cotton Bowen

An n700 runs through Cotton Bowen's Japanese N-Trak modules.

While working for the U.S. Navy I was called upon to teach and brief on my area of expertise at various Navy Bases in Japan. While traveling in Japan I was continuously impressed with the topography and scenery. Although I toyed with the idea of building a module representing Japan, I never did so. That changed in January of 2009 when I spent two weeks in Japan traveling half the length of the country, Sasebo on Kyushu island to Yokosuka on Honshu island on the Bullet and local trains.

While traveling on the Bullet train my wife, Judith, and I marveled at the scenery; rice paddies, tea plantations, small towns, cities, castles, temples, tunnels, farms, mountains, snow and Mt. Fujiyama were all part of the trip. I knew after that trip I had to build an N-TRAK module set that would be representative of the trip; it was too great a trip to leave just to pictures.

After returning from the trip I began work on two N-TRAK modules to display these scenes as one could not fit all the scenes i wanted to have on each. I am a n active member and former President of the Northern Virginia and felt doing these as N-TRAK modules for our club layout would be a fantastic way to bring a little bit of Japan home to Virginia. The modules took me a few months to complete and have been in numerous local N-TRAK shows in the last year.

Cotton Bowen's Japanese N-Trak modules.

Sushi Express
This module is on the left side of the set. It represents the scenery we saw as we passed through Kyushu and southern Honshu. Included in the module are a Buddhist Temple and the usual cluster of shops and houses immediately outside the gates by which enterprising retailer take economic advantage of the opportunity that the presence of scores of tourists delivered by bus and train. Across from the temple is a memorial to the child emperor, Antoku, of the Heike/Taira Clan that drowned in the battle of Dan–no-ura in the straits of Shimonoseki. The memorial is representative of other statuary that I have seen in Japan not a model. Next to the railroad tracks is a tree nursery and tea plantation. The farm house is a close representation of a farm I saw from a local train while in Kyushu.

Middle Ground
In the background are the ever present mountains that dominate the central area of the islands of Kyushu and Honshu. To create the impression of seemingly endless mountain ranges I stacked multiple layers of pink foam and carved them to present numerous mountains in a three dimensional presentation with numerous peaks standing alone. In the center of the module set is an inset of a mountain and one of the tunnels that are so ubiquitous on the mainline of the Bullet train route from southern Japan to Tokyo. Dominating the rear of the scene is a 1/450 scale Japanese Castle that is intended to present a forced perspective of being both huge and distant from the right of way. The road leading over the mountain also diminishes in width from being close to the right of way to a narrow ribbon that gradually becomes more distant from the viewer.

100 Yen Shop
The module on the right side of the set represents a typical view that one sees when the Bullet Train approaches Mt. Fujiyama. Besides presenting Mt. Fujiyama, a Shinto Temple, rice paddies and the typical small town outside the gates to an attraction are present. At the entrance to the town is the Japanese version of the U.S. Dollar Store, the 100 Yen Shop. Other economic activities are a noodle stand and a number of other shops.

Check out more photos of Cotton's N-Trak Modules






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