Return to Chitose

by Dick Hiner, Station Manager,
FEN Chitose 1965-1966

From Dick Hiner, Station Manager FEN Chitose, 1965-1966.

My wife Cheryl and and I visited Japan during 2000. We hadn't been to Chitose since we left there 35 years ago, so we spent three days there to see what had changed. It is true that you can never go home.

As we were landing at the New Chitose Airport, I was completely disoriented believing that they were still using the runway that was shared with JASDF. Not so. Two new runways were constructed east of the new terminal. The runway we knew is west of the terminal between it and Chitose 1, and is only used for military traffic. The terminal is a giant semicircular structure, with a four-story atrium in the center featuring a huge Jumbotron screen showing sports.

Chitose City is much larger than we remember, with the suburbs extending north all the way to Chitose 3 or what was Kuma Station. All of the traditional wooden structures are gone, replaced with grim looking concrete. There is a two block shopping area that is covered, much like the one in Sapporo. All of the roads are paved, and there is a 4-lane highway that goes through the front gate of Chitose 1. The train station was the only structure that looked familiar. Frankly, almost all of the charm is gone.

Both Chitose 1 and 3 are still there, run by the Japanese military, but have been expanded and modernized. I did see the old white building that used to house FEN, but I was not able to get on either base with my retired ID card. The main gate at Chitose 3 has a guard house with two lanes going in and coming out, and a Pass and ID Office for clearing people into the base. If you recall, we used to turn left off the highway to enter the gate at Chitose 3. Now the main road runs straight into the base. From the large map outside, the base appears much larger than I remember.

We went to Shikotsuko and looked for the remains of the old rec area. It is gone, but we walked along the shoreline about where we remember it was located. The road along the south shore of Shikotsuko is now a main highway with a lot of heavy truck traffic. This is a far cry from what it was in 1965, a gravel road that ended shortly after the camp. The Shikotsuko area is not a built up as I would have thought. They now have a ski slope (small) on the east end of the lake. The water is as clear as I remember.

The road to Sapporo is urban all the way, with one break at Happy Valley that looks much the same as it did. In 1965, Eniwa was a little village. Now it is a city that requires a bypass to get around it.

My two favorite watering holes were the Bar Lover in Chitose and the Dream House in Sapporo. I'm sad to report I was unable to locate either of them.

It seemed strange and sad in some ways to go back to a place where we had such a great time and knew and worked with so many great people. We are glad we did it, but what made Chitose a special place is gone.


Click on any of the thumbnail pictures below to see the full-sized image. You will need to use your browser's "back" button to return to this page.

Chitose Map

We begin our tour of Chitose with a map to put things in perspective. The base is located at the southeast corner of the city (look for the grid that identifies the central city).

Chitose River

Chitose River, looking west from the bridge for the road to Sapporo

Shopping Arcade

Covered shopping arcade that runs north and south through the center of town.

Bar Area

The bar area. It is consolidated on about two streets.All of the old wooden structures have been replaced with concrete.

Chitose Road

Traveling south on the road between Chitose 3 and town.

Nikko Hotel

The Nikko Chitose Hotel just outside the gate of Chitose 1 where FEN was once located

Chitose 1

The main gate of Chitose 1 where FEN was once located is visible in about the center of this picture towards the horizon in the "back" of the picture.  A four lane road now goes into the base.

Chitose Hospital

Chitose Municipal Hospital

Welfare Center

General Social Welfare Center in the foreground. Chitose City Hall in the background.

Main Gate

Looking east toward the main gate of Chitose 1. The road comes from Sapporo. The Nikko Sapporo Hotel is the large brown building on the right.


Looking at Chitose 1 across the field from the New Chitose Airport.


Inside the 4-story atrium of the New Chitose Airport

Mt Tarumae

Looking south over Shikotsuko toward Mt Tarumae. The Kuma Station recreation area was located on the south shore about in the center of the far shore.

Kuma Station

Along the south shore of Shikotsuko where I believe the Kuma Station recreation center was.


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