Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut announced March 19 the signing of a commemorative agreement with East Japan Railway Company (JR-East) in Tokyo that recognizes Grand Central Terminal and Tokyo Station as sister stations, and commemorates the Terminal’s 2013 Centennial year as well as Tokyo Station’s upcoming Centennial in 2014.
The honorary agreement, to be signed at a ceremony tonight by GCT General Superintendent Vincent DiRenno and Tokyo Stationmaster Yasuyoshi Umehara, honors the two locations as “historic landmarks in the railway culture of the world [that] function as important social and economic entities in their respective countries.” After the signing, DiRenno and Umehara will exchange ceremonial uniform hats from their respective railroads.
“The railroading community is a global one,” Permut said. “And we are very pleased to be able to recognize our colleagues from JR-East and Tokyo Station. Both Grand Central Terminal and Tokyo Station are important icons in worldwide transportation and I believe our honorary collaboration today will bring significant awareness to the vibrant contributions we both bring to our local communities and to the international history we all share.”
A contingent of executives from JR-East met with Permut and other Metro-North executives this morning and will receive a private tour of the 100-year-old Grand Central Terminal. The visitors are expected to invite Permut to visit Tokyo Station in 2014 as part of its centennial celebrations. Seiichiro Ono, director of Japan Railways Group in New York, attended Grand Central’s centennial celebrations on Feb. 1 and presented Permut with a framed photo of Tokyo Station.
The signing and gift exchange is part of the opening events for Japan Week, the annual three-day event in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall that encourages tourism in Japan by showcasing the country’s diverse regional foods and beverages, as well as its music, art and culture. Admission is free and open to the public. Many food and beverage items, including 'ekiben' bento boxes that are popular on Japanese railroads, and sake, are available for purchase.