I'm Turning Japanese
I debated whether or not the title of this post should be about some new purchases I've been making based on Japanese prototypes, or the real subject, which is my new plans for the 'city' area of my layout. So an alternative title could be "Urban Planning" or something, but I think I want to make a specific call out to some wonderful values that I've found from across the other ocean.
First, I have to say that I have been very inspired by the Japanese approach of modeling in N Gauge, particularly the quality of the work they put into their materials, and the elegant beauty of some surprisingly small layouts and dioramas. Some blogs of note include both Akihabara Station and the Japanese Model Train Newsletter and others (see my blog list).
I work in downtown Seattle, and I am within walking distance of a special Japanese shopping complex called Uwajimaya which features a small bookstore where I was able to pick up two N Scale magazines and one 'real Japanese railroad' magazine. Some of the pictures and diorama's in these magazines are amazing. As I was purchasing the items, the clerk made a comment about how the Japanese are 'crazy about trains'! Which is, of course, a fantastic thing! Of course, I don't read a word of Japanese, but the pictures make these magazines worth it!
Its probably the popularity of trains in Japan that allows for the production of some very nicely detailed buildings and structures, which are also a great value! I've already got a few of the Kato (and one or two Tomix) structures on my layout, primarily because these are really the only modern city buildings available. Once I got past the fear of the 1:150 scale (which has only been noticeably too large on some Japanese die cast buses. With the buildings, however, I don't know if anyone can tell the difference), I've now invested in a few more, mostly Tomix, but also Greenmax, structures. One item that has been a real kick has been the Tomytec "The Town (Machinami) Collection No.7", its a sealed box that contains twelve (yes 12!) modern two and three story buildings.
These are really cool kits and I look forward to customizing them with lighting, some 'Globalization' to add some diversity to the Japanese look of the buildings, and adding them to my city in the weeks to come.
What I find most fascinating about this hobby, is how popular it is in Japan. When you consider that Japan is also the home of Nintendo and Manga, it seems to me that there may be more in this hobby for the younger generation in places like the U.S.