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Japanese neighbors share New Year traditions with Team Misawa

Japanese neighbors share New Year traditions with Team Misawa

U.S. Air Force Col. Philip Holmes, the 35th Mission Support Group commander, stands at attention during the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year at Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2017. During the event, Team Misawa leaders and Misawa City local leaders honored the current firefighters and those who lost their lives in line of duty and concluded with ceremonially wishing the entire congregation a safe and successful year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Team Misawa celebrates New Year with Japanese neighbors

Gunji Akihide, a Misawa City brass band musician, enjoys a break before the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year parade in Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2018. Hundreds attended the parade in order to wish the city and Misawa Air Base’s Fire Department a safe year as they continue to fight fires and protect homes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Team Misawa celebrates New Year with Japanese neighbors

A Misawa City Fire Department firefighter stands by during the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year parade in Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2018. Misawa City and Misawa Air Base firefighters paraded around the streets to display their equipment and vehicles used to defend the city against fire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Team Misawa celebrates New Year with Japanese neighbors

Orika Saryuya, a Japanese national, salutes during the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year parade in Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2018. Mayor Kazumasa Taneichi took time to salute all firefighters and supporting units to honor them for their duty and dedication while the fire department showed local spectators their swift ability to respond to an alert call. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Team Misawa celebrates New Year with Japanese neighbors

Misawa City fire department volunteers post flags during the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year ceremony in Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2018. Misawa City invited 35th Fighter Wing and Japan Air Self-Defense Force 3rd Air Wing leadership to the event, providing opportunities to honor those who lost their lives in line of duty and wish firefighters a safe and successful year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Team Misawa celebrates New Year with Japanese neighbors

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Shane Perkins, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, lifts a door up to reach for fire equipment during the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year ceremony in Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2018. Misawa Air Base partners team with the Misawa City Fire Department to fight flames and keep the city safe. Both teams participated in the ceremony to culturally connect and strengthen bonds between the United States and Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Team Misawa celebrates New Year with Japanese neighbors

A Misawa City Fire Department fire chief starts a firetruck’s engine during the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year ceremony in Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2018. During the event, members displayed how they execute a response to a fire alert call for each vehicle, demonstrating the swift capabilities of both the Misawa City and 35th Civil Engineer Squadron fire departments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Team Misawa celebrates New Year with Japanese neighbors

U.S. Air Force Airmen with the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department salute Misawa City Mayor Kazumasa Taneichi during the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year parade in Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2018. During the ceremony, Misawa Air Base and Misawa City leadership along with many firefighters wished all participants a successful and safe year, while the city mayor greeted each unit who works to keep the city safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Team Misawa celebrates New Year with Japanese neighbors

A Misawa City Fire Department pin hangs on a firefighter’s uniform during the Annual Misawa City Fire Department New Year ceremony in Misawa City, Japan, Jan. 14, 2018. The pendant recognizes and distinguishes firefighters who have dedicated more than 15 years of work to their profession. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

MISAWA CITY, Japan --

In Japan, the New Year celebration, called “shogatsu,” is more than just a time to throw parties; it’s a celebration of tradition, hopes for good luck and a prosperous year.

Team Misawa attended many New Year ceremonies with local agencies like the Misawa International Association, the Misawa Rotary Club and the Misawa Chamber of Commerce, and this year, Col. Philip Holmes, the 35th Mission Support Group commander, attended one of these events at Misawa City’s Fire Department, Jan. 14, to wish all of Misawa’s firefighters and the supporting agencies a safe and successful year.

“Thanks to everyone in the Misawa City Fire Department community, we kept Misawa residences safe from destructive fires,” said Yoshinori Kohiyama, the Aomori Prefecture Assemblyman. “Our goal for this year is to fix our mistakes and build upon the lessons we learned from them.”

Included in the ceremony, each fire department demonstrated the unit's capability to swiftly ready their vehicles to answer emergency calls and save the day.

“It was an honor for us to join in this important occasion with our Japanese partners,” Holmes said. “I was very impressed with the ceremony being so organized and full of energy, and after seeing the demonstrations, I believe the firefighters are well-trained for any challenging situation. I am confident we will continue working together to protect communities and always be ready to respond.”

Sharing in traditions with the community affords personnel an opportunity to experience cultural values up close with their Japanese counterparts, reinforcing bonds and allowing all U.S. and Japan forces to grow stronger together.

“It’s always good any time we have an opportunity to meet with our Japanese counterparts,” Holmes said. “It gives us an opportunity to engage with them and show that our relationship with them is important to Team Misawa.”

Misawa Air Base celebrated approximately 15 New Year events with local community members who look forward to another year of close partnership.

“My hope is for everyone who gathered here today to live in peace, happiness and to have a safe year,” concluded Masanori Kohiruimaki, the Misawa City Speaker of Assembly.