Mr. Sato is never one to pass up a good T-shirt–especially one that salutes his home train line!

June 14 marks JR Higashi-Nakano Station’s 115th year in operation. Opened as Kashiwagi Station in 1906, it was renamed Higashi-Nakano Station (higashi means “east”) in 1917. The stop lies on JR East’s Chuo-Sobu Line where the distinctive yellow-striped cars run west to Mitaka and east for Chiba City, passing right through the heart of Tokyo on the way.

In celebration of this anniversary, on June 1 JR East began selling a line of station-themed merchandise exclusively at the NewDays KIOSK store located outside Higashi-Nakano Station’s west exit ticket gate. Our illustrious and got-his-picture-plastered-in-a-major-Tokyo-train-station Japanese-language correspondent Mr. Sato decided he had to get his hands on one of the T-shirts, but the items are only available in limited quantities, so on his way to the west exit he braced himself for what he might find (or rather, not find).

Unfortunately, the shelves were looking a bit empty:

A small sign read, “We are waiting on a new shipment of goods due to their popularity.” The T-shirts in particular were going fast and were apparently already being restocked for the second time. Mr. Sato had visited on June 8, only one week after they went on sale, so he realized that it was an indication of how popular they were. However, he had a small glimmer of hope because the sign read “new shipment”–meaning that they weren’t completely gone yet. He asked the employee on duty when the new shipment was set to arrive, but that person wasn’t the one who put the order in and didn’t know. Mr. Sato would just have to pop in again to check the next time he was passing through.

By the way, the merchandise lineup consists of commemorative goods including keychains, folders, and tote bags. Even so, Mr. Sato only had eyes for the T-shirts. There was something elegantly stylish about their simple design.

It turned out that the next time he was in the vicinity was the very next morning. Mr. Sato crossed his fingers as he drew close to the store…and let out a sigh of relief. What perfect timing! He learned that the new shipment of goods had just arrived the previous evening and the T-shirts were so popular that they were being restocked every two or three days. He ended up purchasing one of each version for 3,200 yen (US$29) each. That wasn’t exactly a bargain, but he was excited enough not to care.

After unwrapping them, he took a moment to examine and admire his newly acquired shirts.

The white Track 1 T-shirt notes each stop along the Chuo-Sobu Line between Higashi-Nakano and Mitaka Station in western Tokyo.

Mr. Sato actually lives in the area between Koenji Station and Nakano Station, so he was thrilled to see his locale being represented on a shirt.

Meanwhile, the black Track 2 T-shirt notes each stop between Higashi-Nakano Station and Chiba City in the east.

There are definitely a lot more stations when traveling in this direction. Mr. Sato usually doesn’t travel much further east than Akihabara, so he mused that he might take a trip out to Chiba just for the heck of it once the pandemic-induced state of emergency is lifted.

A 115th anniversary logo decorated the back side of the shirt just under the neckline. This time, Mr. Sato found himself wondering what people in the Meiji Period (1868-1912) were thinking when they saw the steam-powered locomotives at the station.

There was only one thing left to do at this point–try the shirts on! Mr. Sato elected to wear the Track 2 version and then recruited fellow Chuo-Sobu Line-dwelling coworker Ahiruneko to wear the Track 1 version. Ahiruneko lives closer to Mitaka, so this one was perfect for him.

They thought it would be funny to wear these shirts on the actual train platform at the station. They’d probably receive a lot of attention, and maybe someone would call on them as “the experts of Higashi-Nakano.” The thought gave both of them a good laugh.

Despite how pleased he is with new purchase, we predict that Mr. Sato will have a hard time choosing whether he wants to wear this new T-shirt or cosplay as a Berserk character for the next few weeks. We suppose his daily wardrobe will ultimately depend on where he wants to travel–and specifically, on which train lines.

Reference: JR East
Top image: JR East
Insert images: SoraNews24
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