Wing hosts first-ever Joint New Year's Party
By Maj. David Westover, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 24, 2007
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --
Nearly 300 Japanese civic leaders and approximately 50 senior leaders from the 374th Airlift Wing gathered together at the Yokota Enlisted Club Sunday night for the first-ever Joint New Year's Party.
The event was hosted by Col. Scott Goodwin, 374th Airlift Wing commander, and the presidents of each of the four local friendship clubs which included the Fussa-Yokota Goodwill Exchange Club, Akiruno-Yokota Friendship Club, Mizuho-Yokota Friendship Association and Hamura-Yokota Friendship Club.
The program featured a broad mix of Japanese and American traditions, cuisine and entertainment that helped bridge language and cultural gaps between base officials and the local community leaders. The attendees' dress ranged from formal business suits to Japanese "happi coats" to traditional kimonos.
"The event was a huge success," said Col. Goodwin. "It was wonderful to see our Japanese friends come out and have a great time, build friendships with the wing leadership, and kick-off another year of strong community relations here in Western Tokyo."
The celebration officially began with a unique combination of the Yokota Air Base Honor Guard posting the U.S. and Japanese flags, while Mr. Daiyoshi Kizan offered a solo performance of Kimigayo, the Japanese national anthem, and the Star-Spangled Banner using a traditional bamboo flute.
The wing commander then followed with his opening remarks.
"It is important to point out that 2007 marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force," said Col. Goodwin, speaking in Japanese during his welcome remarks. "We're extremely proud of our rich heritage and our limitless horizons. And I trust that tonight's event will help to expand our bi-lateral friendships that are built on mutual trust and understanding."
Mr. Yahachiro Ishikawa, President of Fussa-Yokota Goodwill Exchange Club, then followed with his remarks on behalf of the four friendship clubs.
"I hope this event will build close cooperation between Yokota Air Base and the local communities," said Mr. Ishikawa in English. "And I hope this will help to extend the circle of each friendship club."
Soon after the crowd enjoyed a wide assortment of sushi, roast beef and personal favorites from the pasta bar, all eyes and ears tuned to the sounds of Pacific Showcase, the PACAF Band's 18-member big band jazz ensemble.
The band's energetic selections included several American classics like "Anvil Chorus," "Minnie the Moocher," and "Sing, Sing, Sing." At the conclusion of their set, the relentless crowd demanded an encore. The cheers resulted in a foot-stomping rendition of Glenn Miller's, famous "In the Mood."
As the evening came to a close, each of the four friendship clubs along with the help of the wing's four group commanders (and their squadron commanders), led the crowd in the Japanese traditional hand-clapping for good luck and happiness for the New Year.
"This special event took months of hard work and careful planning, and we learned a lot about the cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan," said Mrs. Kikumi Nozaki, secretariat from the Hamura-Yokota Friendship Club and member of the Hamura City Board of Education.
"This successful occasion not only helped strengthen mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan, but it also it also helped to promote friendships among the four clubs as well," she said. "In addition, we hope this event will help to expand the reach of friendship with Yokota Air Base."