Japanese neighbors share New Year traditions with Team Misawa Published Jan. 18, 2018 By Senior Airman Sadie Colbert 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs 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.