There is lots of info and some links below, but for those who just want the basic facts, here they are.
This car was built by Jackson & Sharp in 1890 as D&RG Coach 831. Two decades later it was rebuilt as business car Frederick, as seen in the Denver Library photo the following year - which is the image seen in the frame inside the car in Japan.
It was retired in 1942, with the body sold (to an unknown party) and moved to Welby, CO. I believe it was sold in 1972 to a fellow named Tim Terral, who was the Managing Owner of the Parlour Car Restaurant in Aspen, CO, from 1973 until 1991. I've tried to contact him, but with no luck so far. It's use as a restaurant supports Hiroshi Naito reporting that "one end of the car apparently received modification, which seems to have led to its strange appearance, like the entrance of a cafe."
Aspen being a trendy place, my working theory is that a well-heeled Japanese visitor saw it there (perhaps with a "For Sale" sign), and had it shipped home, sometime between 1991 and 1997 - when the photos of it in Japan were taken. I'd like to think that the original intended purpose was not on the used car lot, although that location could have had a different function at the time the car was moved there. OTOH - perhaps the owner of the car lot was a rail buff who had done very well in his business, and made an impulse purchase while on vacation in Aspen.
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I must confess to having forgotten the precise order that I came across varying pieces of information as I pursued this last night, as I kept chasing diverse leads and links. One of the first that I came across is this one, listing Rio Grande Business Cars.
I found it rather confusing, especially regarding cars 102, 103 and 108 and all the "supplanted" situations. It didn't help when my initial contact wrote, "The drawing of DRGW Ballyclare does not match the car but the way the windows are now may be what the car was rebuilt to as it continued to serve the Rio Grande." Since 108 seems to be the car we're interested in (Re: Aspen), I don't understand the reference to Ballyclare - if anyone can decipher all this, please let me know.
I then came across this quote on the Railway Preservation News forum, " . . . and was later (when??) moved to Aspen and opened as the Parlor Car Restaurant. I did some searching, and couldn't find any indication that said restaurant is still in existence, so can anybody provide info on this car's current status/whereabouts, or has this car been scrapped? Thanks in advance!" http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=40222
Knowing I could help this fellow out to some extent, I applied for membership and posted the link to the Japan site.
I also wrote the Japan-resident contact for the Japanese Railway Society to see what he might know of the current status. He couldn't help me, but forwarded the info on to a Japanese fellow, who I haven't heard from yet.
I must say that I'm a bit surprised the JRS would have this link on their site but not do any follow-up investigating - perhaps if it were a British car instead of American?
On my search for the Parlor Car Restaurant I got a LinkedIn (long ago, I used to wonder what Link Ed Ln was ;-) hit on the above-mentioned Tim Terral, who I still hope to hear from - on the reasonable assumption that he sold the car to the fellow who shipped it to Japan. I was disappointed that there were no images of it while it was used as a restaurant in Aspen. I keep wishing there was some way to specify that you only want images from a certain time period, vs. whatever is freshest in the Google queue.
I'm hoping that the Frederick still exists in Funabashi. On the plus side, I thinks there's a general reverence for old things in Japan, as well as wide respect for wooden objects.
We'll see - maybe.
BTW - Frederick Lovejoy was President of the D&RG 1883-84, when it went into receivership after protracted financial struggles, including conflicts with the D&RGW.