Monday, June 25, 2012

Plane spotting, the new fad among Japanese women

Years after women Japanese train spotters were given the nickname “Tetsuko,” which loosely translates as rail girl, officials of Narita airport and nearby Narita city recently coined the word “Sorami” — air girl — to describe members of Japan’s growing band of women plane spotters.
Just as a Tetsuko would crisscross the nation to photograph different trains, so a Sorami such as Ayumi Fukuda, a 34-year-old public servant from Takaishi, Osaka Prefecture, travels from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south to capture images of airplanes.

In May she was one of 27 participants in an event organized for Sorami in Narita, Chiba Prefecture.

“I don’t understand why airplanes can fly, and that’s why I’m attracted to them,” said Fukuda, a plane spotter of five years. The event was organized by “Narita Kuentai,” a group consisting of employees of the Narita municipal government and of Narita airport that works for the development of the local community.

After gathering at a hotel in the city, the participants, mostly in their 20s and 30s, were given a tour of a park close to the airport and taken to a Japan Airlines hangar to photograph planes.

“It’s huge!” “Beautiful!” the assembled Sorami exclaimed as they entered the hangar and set eyes on JAL’s Boeing 787, the state-of-the-art passenger jet nicknamed Dreamliner. Some lay on the ground to photograph the plane from a certain angle, while others posed in front of the jet for photos with mechanics, who were acting as tour guides.

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