[Note: excuse my tardiness; we had an event here]
In the beginning, there were only superchargers in the megapolis of Tokyo. Situating them there only in the early days was kind of signal that Tesla Japan wasn't interested in using them for long-distance travel, but rather for selling more cars in the big city. As more were built, again they were installed in the greater Kansai area with one in Kobe and another in Osaka. Kyoto filled in a bit of a gap, but that one didn't last long. CHAdeMO has still be needed to travel any distance. Kurashiki opened in early spring helped a lot for west Japan. However, we took a big leap earlier this month with the opening of two new superchargers in Nagano and Hamamatsu. The new ones are not usually opened with much fanfare, but the one in Hamamatsu was a full-blown extravaganza. And rightly so because its opening took the charging network in Japan to another level. As you saw above, the new superchargers look great, especially with the red parking spots. I arrived a day early; I had heard they might open up that day, but it was not to be. All I came away with that day was photos of them while they were pristine.
The new superchargers are right up against one of the Hamamatsu service areas. There is no clear way to get there currently, but if you take the gravel path between the superchargers and the building, you are there. Also, please note that the location is not within the usual highway system. You have to exit the highway (going either way) and take the local surface streets to the south side (the side heading away from Tokyo). Look for the signs for the Platto Park and NEOPLAZA. This is now officially the supercharger that is closest to any highway in Japan. Let's hope it is not the last of these to go in near parking/service areas.
Back to the event: Tesla decided that this supercharger is so important that its opening should be marked with a ceremony. I arrived early, but my car was the sixth non-company one to park. Imagine all the spots behind these you see, plus several more, and you'll have an idea of how many attended. I met many owners I knew from before and met some I hadn't spoken with before. I saw Tesla Japan staff I knew and met some I didn't. I was happy to get to meet the head of Tesla Japan and North Asia, Nicolas Villeger.
Mr. Villeger told me he is keen to continue to expand the supercharger network in Japan. I envy him in a couple of ways. He is young and full of energy, and he speaks Japanese really well. I'm looking forward to seeing him again and to watching his company's progress.
I should back up a second. The table you see behind Mr. Villeger was set up for a traditional Japanese Shinto ceremony. The ceremony was much like the one performed for our land before our land was built. After the ceremony and speeches, we moved over to the superchargers where they were formally christened.
<rant>I was a bit surprised that they included the first charge as a part of the ceremony. With 30+ cars needing to be charged, I would have liked to see those chargers at work much sooner. I was even more surprised that the first cars to get charged were Tesla owned cars. And, sorry, one more: the guys in charge of sending cars over spent way too much time deciding which car next. Literally 5-10 minutes went by with empty stalls. Someone really needed to take charge of that process. </rant>
Once things got going, it was great to see cars moving in and getting charged. Above are the Tesla owned cars that were the background to the ceremony. It took around an hour before the Rocket got in. I ended up misreading my navigation system, so I needed a CHAdeMO charge along the way in order to make it to the Kansai chargers. It was a holiday weekend, so there were many Nissan Leafs needing their power to keep moving.
So to sum up, the new superchargers at Hamamatsu are going to be popular. We get all the services we are used to having at Japanese highway service areas, as well as a speedy charge to help us get on our way quickly. Another bonus I haven't mentioned yet: this supercharger fills in a needed gap between Kansai and Kanto. So for me, traveling from Kyushu to Kanto, once I get to the mid to east Chugoku area, I can travel to Tokyo using only superchargers. Once we get another two: one in Kyushu and another in west Chugoku (Yamaguchi or Hiroshima), I can travel all the way to Tokyo via supercharger charging. Thanks, Tesla for both the supercharger and the hospitality. Please keep up the good work.