Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Barry A. Riley
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan – More than 20,000 local Japanese community members flooded Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi’s gates to attend the installation’s annual Spring Festival for a day of food, fun and friendship.
NAF Atsugi Commanding Officer Capt. Steven Wieman kicked off the day’s events, delivering opening remarks for the festival alongside Ebina and Ayase city mascots.
“Springfest provides the citizens of our local community the opportunity to see our beautiful base, learn about U.S. customs and most importantly, gain an understanding about the critical role that Atsugi plays in the self defense and security of Japan,” said Wieman. “Seeing our aircraft up close and personal and speaking with our highly trained aircrew gives our visitors invaluable insight into NAF Atsugi’s mission and the emphasis that we put on safety, training, and the importance of being good guests of the beautiful country of Japan.”
Throughout the day, visitors were treated to live musical performances from Nogyo High School taiko drum team, 90’s R&B group Lyla Boops, singer Ryan Motoyama, rock band Shark Sandwich, a live DJ and a special guest performance from Atlanta-based rap artist “Fabo.”
Multiple food and drink booths were displayed throughout Taylor field for visitors to enjoy including vendors with Japanese dishes, hamburgers and hot dogs, Texas barbecue and Mexican food.
Around mid-day, under the training of the Host Nation Relations Office, NAF Atsugi spouses held a time-honored Japanese tea ceremony in Alliance Park where visitors were able to enjoy traditional green tea Japanese treats.
Along the flight line, patrons were able to view a static display of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) aircraft. Luckily enough, routine flight operations were scheduled on the day of the festival and aircraft enthusiasts were afforded the rare opportunity to view CVW-5 aircraft in action up close.
Though the event was chock-full of activities and sights for all ages, NAF Atsugi Host Nation Relations Officer Masako Takakura feels these events hold an even deeper meaning.
“Reaching out to the community is very important,” she said. “Community events are one of the greatest tools we have, to achieve the goal of connecting to the people in the community.”
One Yokohama citizen, Hirosei Sugino, said it was his first time visiting a military installation and he thoroughly enjoyed seeing what the festival had to offer.
“I was very excited because it was my first time to visit the base,” he said. “I enjoyed seeing the different aircraft and experiencing the American food and music. It feels good to get a better understanding of the base.”
Takakura believes that each new positive relationship built between the base and local community is valuable to the mission of NAF Atsugi, and the Spring Festival was successful in doing just that.
“Each person counts,” said Takakura. “One short conversation with a smile makes a big difference.”