US Navy and Japan celebrate together with Mikoshi Parade

The streets were bustling with activity in
Yokosuka, Japan for a traditional Mikoshi parade where a portable shrine is carried
by volunteers. The parade may be a thousand-year-old Japanese tradition, but, for the past 38 years, Fleet Activities Yokosuka also participates in the parade with their own
Mikoshi shrine. And for the past three years, Yokosuka Naval Base has held an open house
and welcomed the parade on base. This is a joint event with city hall and the
Mikoshi Association. So it’s an on-base/off-base traditional Japanese parade, and the Mikoshis
that are in the parade are portable shrines. Every year it’s really well received, specifically
because of the very unique nature of this event. That it is a Japanese parade and it
so iconically traditional Japanese, but it’s in a very comfortable environment for all
the Americans to also come and participate and see it, and the Japanese really love sharing
this with us. Throughout the year, Yokosuka Naval Base holds
open house events that allow Japanese citizens to visit the base, but more than any other
event the Mikoshi parade demonstrates collaboration, acceptance, and friendship between the American
and Japanese citizens. Between the base and Yokosuka City we get along really, really well with Yokosuka City. The residents outside the gate really love
us and we really love them and we work together really well. There is a real sense of community
and togetherness with this event and we really enjoy having the CFAY Mikoshi, so that one’s
especially special for us, to see our Sailors out there carrying that Mikoshi. So we love
it representing all the CFAY commands too. The American team carrying the CFAY Mikoshi
is made up of volunteers from different commands on the base, and each Mikoshi comes from around
the Yokosuka area coming together to celebrate and represent their community.
It was almost like we were just one big team. Came out and celebrated together, and there
was no division. It was just all one people, celebrating the parade together. You’re
only in Japan for a short amount of time and it’s good to just get out and experience
this stuff. Something you’ll be able to look back on and tell people about, it’s
always a lot of fun. I will definitely be doing this again, next year.
Representatives said this was the largest turnout for this event so far, and they look
forward to even more smiling faces next year. Petty Officer Kirk Putnam, Yokosuka Naval
Base, Japan.

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