30th Annual Japan Day glows with Nebuta parade

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Float carriers chant as drums beat loudly, syncing with their inner metronome for the first Nebuta parade held on Misawa Air Base during its 30th Annual Japan Day event, April 7 and 8.

Whether residents heard the loud cracks of kendo swords or walked Friendship Boulevard to see the street illuminated by a large float, everyone had a chance to participate in the festivities.

“I liked the performances and seeing the dancers and the taiko drummers,” said Mackenzie Jordan, daughter of Tech. Sgt. Kevin Jordan, the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron equipment management NCO in charge. “It’s entertaining to watch, and no matter how many times I see it, the shows take me by surprise because it’s always something different playing and someone different dancing.”

Festival activities included rickshaw rides, taiko performances and several traditional Japanese crafts to partake in.

“My favorite is calligraphy and shoto playing because it's our Japanese traditional culture,” said Ruka, a Japanese attendee and translator from Aomori City. "We usually don’t get to use the brushes for calligraphy, but we were able to during this event to write our favorite words in Kanji.”

Between 5,000 and 6,000 Misawa personnel, their families and Japanese nationals attended Japan Day to enjoy local food and the 57 events which took place on base.

“We started coordinating in January this year,” said Master Sgt. Richard Vincent, the 35th Communications Squadron network control center section chief and primary event coordinator. “When we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, the excitement level ramped up [and] we had a great team this year. Our team worked very hard to make sure everything went smoothly.”

On Japan Day’s 30th anniversary, the festival’s long-standing tradition of bridging the gap between cultures, Americans and Japanese alike said they felt a renewed sense of trust and companionship between the two partners committed to safety and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“This event is more than a cultural exchange between the U.S. and our host nation,” said Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th Fighter Wing commander. “It’s where we can meet face-to-face, outside of a military standpoint, and get to know our allies. Japan Day affords us time to invest in the great relationship we have with the community and show our love and appreciation for our Japanese counterparts. We are honored to have the Nebuta parade on this base for the first time in history.”