US-Japan Summit Memorial and Hinode Sansō

Further to my post on Reflections on writing Tokyo 20/20 Vision which touched upon visiting the US-Japan Summit Memorial and Hinode Sansō, I am writing about them in a bit more detail. Although I could deal with them in separate posts, as I visited them on the same day and they relate to a particular event and person so closely, it seems more natural to keep them together. I write about that person, Yasuhiro Nakasone (中曽根康弘), more in another post.

Let us begin with the US-Japan Summit Memorial (日米首脳会談記念碑), also known as the ‘Ron-Yasu Memorial’ (ロンヤス会談祈念碑). There is limited information about the site on the internet, especially in English. Tachikawa city has a page in Japanese with a bit of information.

In terms of getting there, the easiest way, and the way that I did it, is to drive. As you can see in the map, the Hinode Inter Change is not too far away. After that, you need to get onto Route 184 and drive along it until reaching Hinode Town Hall, at which point you take a right turn to go up a hill past Choritsu Junior High School. In my novel Tokyo 20/20 Vision, this area is described in detail and, during my visit in July 2019, I walked both up and down the hill in checking details for the story.

The memorial is marked with the orange place marker

When you get to close to the memorial, there is a small parking area (for about one or two cars), next to the signs by the path leading to the memorial itself.

It takes a few minutes to walk along the path to the memorial itself (again see Tokyo 20/20 Vision for detail descriptions of this). Eventually you come out of the trees and there is a view across Choritsu Junior High School and its sports area, as well as the first of the memorials at the site.

You now need to turn left and go up the slope to the main memorials. The first of these relates to why the memorial is here at all. The site overlooks where Prime Minister Nakasone, together with his wife, met President Ronald Reagan, and first lady Nancy Reagan, as their helicopter landed in the sports ground of the junior high school.

On the back of the memorial are details about the event, which took place on 11 November 1983 and helped to begin the famous ‘Ron-Yasu’ relationship as they became so close, as I discussed in my PhD and first academic book.

There are also other memorials at the site, such as the one by the town mayor.

Having spent so many years studying Nakasone, and despite having met him, there was still something special about actually going to this place, which had been on my bucket place of places to visit in Japan for so many years. Despite being so close to Tokyo, due to it being easier to drive to than to take public transport, and also due to the busy nature of many of my trips, it took a long time to finally get there. Seeing where the helicopter came in and the meeting took place was very satisfying, and further cemented the idea of using it as a location for my novel Tokyo 20/20 Vision.

Obligatory selfie at the memorial. Was wearing one of my Frankie Goes To Hollywood T-shirts due to the link between my favourite song, Two Tribes, and Ronald Reagan (the actor Chris Barrie provides Reagan imitations on some versions of the song)

The second location related to the meeting between Nakasone and Reagan is nearby. It is where they went for the actual discussions and is located a short drive away. The last part is quite a narrow, steep road, but there is plenty of parking when you get to the end of the road by Hinode Sansō (日の出山荘) itself.

There is a little bit of information about Hinode Sansō in Japanese on Wikipedia, and that page has a picture of when Nakasone and Reagan met there. It also has its own Japanese blog site.

Although this was Nakasone’s regular retreat, it feels much more like a memorial to his summit with Reagan, as indicated by the signs and many of the photographs inside the buildings.

It was quite something to be walking around almost alone (there were hardly any visitors that day), seeing where Nakasone & Reagan must have sat and chatted. I couldn’t help myself from taking a selfie on the above sofa.

The study where Nakasone sat and wrote many of the articles and books that I studied for so long…

It was great to have finally visited Hinode Sansō and I can understand why Nakasone liked going there so much. Although not easy to get to, no doubt it is easier to get to from central Tokyo than any similar retreat in his home prefecture of Gunma would be.

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