Japanese-American Friendship Festival
This past weekend it was time for the annual Japanese-American Friendship Festival over at Yokota Air Base near Hachioji, to west of of Shinjuku, Tokyo. Actually, for me it was news – I hadn’t heard about it before, even though it’s been going on for I don’t know how many years.
It was a blistering hot day yesterday when we went out there. I think it was already about 33 degrees when we arrived at the base around 11 AM. And it didn’t get better after that. The part of the base which was open to the public is virtually all concrete and offers little to no places of shade. So we walked for what seemed to be miles along the airstrip looking at cool military planes kindly loaned from the 374th Airlift Wing (correct me if I’m wrong here!). The planes ranged from F-whatchamacallit to the sleek F-somenumberhere. Yep, I don’t know diddly-squat about military airplanes, but I’m sure there were some good stuff displayed. I think the one we got to board was the C-5 Galaxy, but I’m not sure. (I will put some pictures up later). Oh and I think they displayed some kind of stealth-plane to, I’ll put a picture up of that too, so someone may identify it.
Anyway, apart from looking at aircrafts, one could wander around in the concrete desert eating a variety of Japanese and American snacks. There was for example a hamburger-tent which manufactured American burgers with military efficiency – the burgers were not so good, but they all looked exactly the same and I think they could fry 50 burgers at once! Further they had a lot of places selling Shaved ice, or Kakigoori as it’s called here in Japan. A strange feeling for us “outsiders” (i.e. people not living on the base) was the fact that they accepted USD as payment. All prices were written in both USD and JPY (to a good exchange-rate too, I might add!) which gave a surreal feeling to the experience. It felt as we weren’t in Japan for few hours.
The Yokota Air Base has been in operation for 60 years (since September 5, 1945 so there’s an anniversary coming up). Yokota is the closest to Tokyo of all the bases here in Japan.