Last year I was in Tokyo at the same time that Japex 2013 came to town: a lucky coincidence!
Japex 2013 was the 48th Japan Philatelic Exhibition, staged by the Japan Philatelic Society (JPS).
Exhibition Dates: 22nd November to 24th November
Venue: Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Trade Center Taitou-Kan (floors 6-7)
Although the exhibition was held in the central Tokyo district of Asakusa, not far from the magnificent Sensō-Ji temple and the Sumida river, the venue was as unglamorous as it sounds. But I was there for the stamps, not the view, and I had a great time, of course.
I was in Tokyo on a family holiday. As far as my wife is concerned, a stamp exhibition is not the stuff that dreams are made of, so I only took a couple hours out of our schedule to visit the exhibition. I missed more than I saw, but I brought home some great items, which I am sharing here.
Exhibitions usually produce special souvenir items for sale to commemorate the event. Such items are highly collectable and so my primary mission was secure some souvenirs. It was a partial success: I got two nice postcards with commemorative cancels.
USPS Japex 2013 Commemorative Postcard
This postcard features a 60-cent George Washington stamp from the United States Postal Service (USPS), with a commemorative Japex 2013 cancel.
I don’t know enough about US stamps to describe the status of this stamp, but the design seems to reproduce the design of the original 10-cent George Washington stamp, one of the first stamps issued in the US in 1847. You can find more info here.
George Washington was, of course, the 1st President of the United States.
Royal Mail Japex 2013 Commemorative Postcard
I had planned to send some souvenirs to my stamp pals, but my short excursion to the exhibition and a pre-holiday passport disaster meant that my preparation was less than optimal and I turned up without correspondence details. I’m sorry Vera!
What I Missed
The 2 postcards above are nice items, but they are not very Japanese, which is what I was hoping for as a souvenir. It was only after the exhibition and I had a proper look through the catalogue that I saw that there was a special stamp available. This is a scan from the catalogue:
First Day Covers
As well as souvenir items offered by the national postal operator and national philatelic society, stamp exhibitions host many booths of private sellers, and Japex 2013 was no exception. There were so many sellers, and so many great items to discover, but with my limited time, I focussed on these first day covers. I chose these covers based purely on their appeal to me personally, I don’t think they are rare or valuable.
Opening of the Tohoku Shinkansen Line
Issue Date: 23rd June 1982
Click here to read about the Tohoku Shinkansen line. This Wikipedia article about the Tohoku Shinkansen has a great photo of a modern train in “revival livery” as displayed on the cover above (on the right side, scroll down to the bottom, or click here for the media file page).
This is one stamp of a pair that are part of this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t have the other one at this time. For details, click the image of the insert below:
Opening of the Joetsu Shinkansen Line
Issue Date: 15th November 1982
Click here to read about the Joetsu Shinkansen line. Similarly to the Tohoku Shinkansen cover above, this Wikipedia article about the Joetsu Shinkansen has a great photo of a modern train showing the livery as displayed on the cover above (on the left side, scroll down to the bottom, or click here for the media file page).
This cover shows both stamps in the issue (se-tenant). On the left, the Joetsu Shinkansen train, and on the right, the ED16 type electric locomotive. For details, click the image of the insert below:
Sumo Picture Series Postage Stamps
I think there are 5 sets of stamps in this great Sumo series. Each set seems to be composed of 3 stamps: 2 se-tenant stamps and a single stamp. I chose these covers at the exhibition because of their interesting Japanese cultural theme. It is only later, after doing my research, that I realise I am missing most of the series. However, here is what I have:
Issue Date: 1st July 1978
This stamp is 1 of the 2 se-tenant stamps, featuring 2 observers (supporters, or opponents?) of the wrestler, who is depicted on the other stamp, which I don’t have yet. The whole scene is taken from a painting by Toyokuni Utagawa. For details, click the image of the insert below:
This second cover in series I features the single stamp design (although the cover carries 2 of these stamps):
Issue Date: 1st July 1978
This is the drum tower at the Ekoin Temple in Ryogoku. For details, click the image of the insert below:
Issue Date: 9th September 1978
This cover from series II of the Sumo pictures features the single design stamp (I am missing the 2 se-tenant stamps). The image on the stamp is a “wrestling match of Jinmaku and Raiden”. For details, click the image of the insert below:
Modern Japanese Art Series V
Issue Date: 22nd February 1980
I like this cover because it reminds me of the temples we visited while we were in Japan. The design is from the painting Hall of the Supreme Buddha by Kokei Kobayashi. Again, this stamp is 1 of 2 designs in the issue. I don’t have the other stamp, which features the painting Salmon by Yuichi Takahashi (click here to see an image of it). For details, click the image of the insert below:
Centenary of the Japan-Thailand Friendship Declaration
Issue Date: 26th September 1987
This last cover is one of my favourites. It is a joint issue between Japan and Thailand, in that Thailand also issued a stamp commemorating the centenary on this day, but the Thai stamp is a completely different design (I don’t have it in my collection). The Japanese stamp above features an image of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok with one of its giant guardians, and in the lower-left corner there is cherry blossom, an iconic Japanese flower. There is also a nice commemorative cancel in red ink featuring a Thai giant and Mount Fuji, with national flags. For details, click the image of the insert below:
I bought a few other covers at the exhibition featuring Mount Fuji, but I will post them in a dedicated topic page – coming soon-ish.
I also bought some stamps at the exhibition: a set of great flower stamps issued in 1961, which I have posted here, and several stamps featuring Mount Fuji. Most of these I will put into my forthcoming topic page, but here is one to set the scene:
Issue Date: 2nd October 1967
This stamp is part of the International Year of Tourism issue, and features a painting by Yokoyama Taikan called Mount Fuji with Cranes in Flight (although there seems to be several variations on that title).
Buying Stamps By Weight
I did buy several other stamps – several hundred in fact:
This is a packet used stamps, sold by weight (this packet is 250 g). Stamp packets sold this way are called kiloware. Kiloware is often “sorted” and so many of the more interesting or lucrative stamps are removed before the packets are made up. You might end up with a pile of low value duplicates, but that is part of the fun. Kiloware is a great way to kick-start your hobby or boost a collection. These packets are often sold through charities. I bought this packet from a philately club that is part of a sign language society in Tokyo.
Despite only have a couple of hours to spend at the exhibition, I had a great time, met some great people, and saw a lot of great stamps. As well as the souvenir items and the private sellers, Japex 2013 featured a very impressive gallery of competition stamp displays from private philatelists. This is actually the major part of most stamp exhibitions, of course. One great display featured a Penny Black stamp on cover, postmarked 6th May 1840 – a first day cover, the very first day of use of the very first postage stamp: the birth of the world’s greatest hobby :)
Although I said at the start of this post that the exhibition venue was uninspiring, as I left I caught this view from the window in the stairwell (I don’t think there were any other windows).
We flew home the next day.