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Jul
17

Whats the deal with Bar Row?

This entry was posted by on Monday, 17 July, 2006 at

Everytime I listen to AFN (or specifically, Eagle 810, as the local variety of Armed Forces Network is called here) there are always these amusing PSAs being blasted about 100 times per hour. One of the more fascinating ones refer to a place called “Bar Row” in Fussa City, which is where the Yokota Air Base is located. The PSA goes something like this:

Remember that service personnel are not allowed to be within a one block radius of Akasen-dori in Fussa city, otherwise known as “Bar Row”, between the hours of 1 am and 6 am.

This has intrigued me for the last few months, because there was never any explanation (figures, being a military radio station) and I can’t recall reading or hearing about it anywhere else. So, I decided to use good old GOOGLE to find out for myself why this restriction was in place. Oh, did I ever find some interesting stuff!

FIrst of all; this is the official announcement made by the US Embassy in June 2005 about it:

Yokota Base Command has issued an order prohibiting servicemembers from being within a one block radius of Akasen-dori in Fussa city (near the base), otherwise known as “Bar Row”, between the hours of 1 am and 6 am. The order comes after a series of crimes, altercations and assaults at Bar Row involving base personnel, including one last weekend that left two airmen seriously wounded. Civilians are advised to exercise caution should they choose to enter the area.

Wow! Reading that, it sounds like the poor American soldiers are being assaulted by some bad people when they are innocently partying outside the gates. It really sounds like the Americans are the victims here. I decided to do some more digging, and I came up with some slightly more elaborate and different accounts of why the ban had come in place.

Alex at Rainbow Trite writes:

Yokota Air Force Base is INFAMOUS for the number of DUI’s that take place on a weekly basis. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nightly, select uniformed men and women are out carousing and rejoicing, heeing and hawing, and, against their better judgment, drinking and driving.

The base doesn’t publicize these “happenings”. No one hears about them or even has an inkling until Colonel Schissler is on the TV, making a plea that we not drink and drive. This, I blame on higher command. People should be made aware of the problem.

This I found in the base’s own newsletter, making it blatantly obvious who is to blame for the restrictions:

Since the restriction came into place, the number of incidents has dropped to almost zero. Fussa City officials have also noticed a
sharp decline in the amount of noise complaints they receive from citizens living between Bar Row and Yokota.

Yes, I know that the area around the base is not generally the nicest neigborhood in Japan, and that there are rumours of some yakuza presence etc., but still, drunken, loud, cocky American soldiers rumbling around at night causing all sorts of ruckus and provoking fights with the locals does seem like a reasonable explanation to me. Way to show your appreciation for your Japanese hosts.

Oh, and while I’m on this American-bashing high (sorry, it wasn’t meant to be this harsh…), GW Bush – what is with the SLICED PIG!??

50 Responses to “Whats the deal with Bar Row?”

  1. Jay

    First off, Yokota is not “INFAMOUS” for DUI’s, in fact our rates dropped 40% last year and this has nothing to do with Bar Row restrictions. We have 225-ride a program used to get people home from the gates. Our DUI’s are not off-base they are from on the base and it is publicized on base very well. We do this with a nice little ceremony at the Post office on base. The last squadron to recieve a DUI gets to stand proud in their service dress uniform and change the plaquered to read their squadron and the date of the offense. On top of that the individual that recieved said DUI is the one changing the info…In public where anyone can and may watch this event.

    Secondly the residents of Yoota Air Base may go to Bar Row and be loud, but we are not out stabbing our cab driver’s, and co-workers like the Navy partakes in, or The Marines raping and killling. Lets be real hear…I would rather the base be synonamous for noise than international incidents.

  2. Johan

    Sorry Jay, that post was very harsh and partly made just to provoke feelings. Everything is not black and white, everyone at Yokota do not go out to Bar Row raping locals…. Of course!

    Sorry if offended anyone by generalizing too much what a few bad apples do.

  3. Mike

    I was station there for 9 1/2 yrs two tours. Yes, there is a DUI problem there, always was. Glad to hear its is finally getting under control. Yes there are fights in Bar row with Airforce and bullying of japanese nationals…..I’ve turned in at least 5 Airman and NCO’s to their first shirts and commanders while I was stationed there. Three of which were kicked out. And if you think Im lying, ask about the gurl in the Comm group in 82 that lured a japanee man back to her dorm on the promise of sex, only to be robbed, beaten and thought for dead, then thrown into a dumpster. He came to, called the police, and she did 6 months in a all japanese prison, until she went crazy and was dicharged on mental medical discharge; she was only 19. The three males that assisted her during the robbery got 5 yrs in a japanese/american prison. True, we are not as bad as the Navy (Independance carrier)or Marine’s ( Camp Fuji) but that is still no excuse. I know of military that have done time for dealing drugs, weapons and ammo to the Yakuza. You’d be surprised at who was dealing. A 14yr Master Sergeant did 10 yrs hard labor for dealing and was the casue of over 50 other court matials that caused E&I to be shut down and moved back stateside. a Staff Sergeant SP got 10 years for allowing drugs to enter the base/country while he worked at the terminal and was caught trying to pass ammo to the Yakuza. There was a murder at the NCO club. A Marine stomping another marine to death to the NCO club fighting over a married Air Force wife in 91 or 92. No Air Force members stepped in to stop him.
    Open your eyes! The truth hurts! ALL the clubs in bar row and some apartment complexes lived in by the military; The white Apartments on Hwy 16 acrross from the base, and the apartments accross from 7 Eleven are Yakuza (Japanese Mafia owned). If you dont believe me, ask about “fire insurance” that everyone pays, so their businesses dont get burned out. Like the club across from 7 Eleven that didnt pay back in the 90. Now if all that was going on in the 80′s and 90′s…I cant imagine what things are like now. I remember the police only carring night sticks back then, when I visited in 2003 they were wearing bullet proof vest and carry guns. So stop the Erkel act…..”Did I do that…”
    And YEs, there were rapes back then too. a Tech Sergeant that lived in the white apartments across from the base did 5 years for rape back in 86; not to mention other airman that were sent to prison for the same thing.
    Peace to all….Im glad things are getting better, but we american Airforce members made Bar row what it is today. I know we can make it better. The policy need to go back to NO first term airman being station overseas without being stationed stateside first. That way they have had time to adjust to the military. Reopen the Alcohol rehab center. Not in the Philipians, but at Yokota. By time you get the drunk calling for the ride, its to late. Counsel or if necessary report those that show up to work intoxicated. Prevention is the best cause; not a bandaid…”go ahead and get pissy drunk call 255-ride, and we will pick you up without fear of being delt with”. If you have a problem with someone that likes to fight, move their name to the top of the deployment list. See if tht calms them down. The AIrforce is a great force. Lets make it proud again for all the japanese nationals to see.
    P.S. Stop OVERCHARING the japanese at the Annual Open houseand the TAMA golf course; its not nice.

    Peace

  4. Colonel WTF

    To the Narc that posted last, FU. You are a typical schmuck that turns the innocent in… Yeah, I spent time at Yokota and it is apparent the 374 Maintenance Squadron is responsible for atleast 50% of the crime that is commited on Bar row… Speaking of which, Bar row is full of nonsense! Nothing but illegal filipinas and vatos patrol the area… Disco Eddie’s is whack and when times get slow, he tries to bargain you into his club for free… Nerie’s has some tight DJ’s spinnin’ the ones and two’s but right across the street you can find some slutty tagalog speakin’ biatches…

    Japan is tight, just don’t spend it near a military base or with a Narc that will rat you out.. Fuck OSI

  5. Sky King

    I was at Yokota between 1979 and 1981 and went back several times on business since. We all knew which were the bars run by the yakuza and we knew which ones had the imported hookers. We avoided them because we chose to take our money elsewhere. There were plenty of places to enjoy time off without the hassle or hustle. Yes, we got blasted a lot. I think that that was a product of being too young and going from the restrictions of a training base right to what was pretty much an all night party everywhere. The base could have alleviated that with some form of an orientation which filled in the blanks for us new victims. There should also have been a place to cal when your drinking was getting out of control where you weren’t going to be lectured or preached to. I certainly would have used it!

  6. Fred Padgett

    I was stationed at Yokota from 1969 to 1974. Probably the last of the good ole years when the American dollar meant something. I spent many nights on bar row having the time of my life without any fear that something negative might happen. The Japanese loved the American GI and the money that came with them. I will honestly say tho that you got what you paid for. Back then the japanese police only had to speak to you (always in a nice manner) in order to get your attention. You had better sense to talk back. Those were the good ole days – sad to see that off base Yokota has changed so much. Bar row was opened 24 hours a day, each bar had three shifts of workers. I have never wanted to go back because I knew I would be disappointed. This web site confirms that.

  7. Don Libby

    Back in 1967 when I was stationed at Yokota, Bar Row as it is called these days saw it’s share of over-exuberance by Air Force personnel as well as some of the citizens. The local police patrolled the area but seemed to remain in the background allowing a certain amount of fun. But when it began to get out of hand they would not hesitate to politely step in. We listened when they spoke. Back then a Japanese jail was not where one wanted to be on a Friday/Saturday night. My favorite hangout was the Bar Cairo everyone that came in there and worked there were friends and friendly to all. One final comment about Eddie’s Bar. That wasn’t around at the time however I do remember Eddie when he was a bartender.

  8. cindy williams

    I remember that marine that got stomped to death .Bring’s beck memory’s for me as I worked at the club and I saw the aftermath of it all . The two marine’s were roommates and one went out with this air force wife one night and the next night went out with the other , I can remember leavin the club and hearin fighting but it was in the housein area . When I came back to work I don’t recall any thing but when I left again the emt’s and sp’s were there .they said he died at the hospital but he really died in the club parking lot .this matine that did this all did it by stomping his head in . My car was two spaces away from all this and the sp’s had to see my car as it had blood split’s on it .The poor night manager’s that night were up for 12 hours or mors filling out report’s .

  9. Leigh Williams, Austin, TX

    Holy cow. I was at Yokota from 1979 to 1983 with my husband, the base optometrist. I worked and taught for the University of Maryland until our first child was born. I see now that I was too sedate too have been so young (21 when I got there); I don’t think I knew Bar Row existed. I did know, however, that some of the wives got up to hijinks when their husbands were TDY. An older wife showed me some of the base housing out of which prostitution rings were allegedly run. And once, on a space A trip to Kunsan, I saw a quite amazing pornographic “dance” performed during the day, at the NCO club, by two wives. That knocked my socks off. Very sad to hear that the yakuza are in Fussa. It seemed to be so safe and civilized when I was there.

  10. Annette Holmes

    Frank Padgett wrote:

    “I was stationed at Yokota from 1969 to 1974″.

    Frank do you remember Sargeant Carol Manion, who died in Fussa City in 1974? He was from Evansville, Indiana.

  11. Johan

    Wow… Discussion has really contiuned behind my back here, haven’t paid enough attention I see.

    Need to read all your replies – my original post seems so old when I re-read it now…

  12. stanley m

    I WAS STATIONED ON YAKOTA AFB .. THE TRANPORATATION SQ.
    I WORKED HOUSHOLD GOODS SHIPPING..
    I REMEMBER YAKOTA AND FUSSA AS BEING VERY BORING ..EXPENSIVE AND AN ALL AROUND CHALLENGE.
    OFF BASE THE SMELL WAS TERRIABLE ..
    BAR ROW WAS LIKE GULLEVERS LAND ALL SMALL AND EXPENSIVE,,

    DOES EVERY ONE REMENBER GINY ROSE .. A MARVELOUS OLD LADY .. BOB HOPE HAD A JOKE ABOUT HERE..YES HE PLAYED TACHI AFB ..
    SO SORRY I REGRETED MY TRIP THERE ..

    SOUTH AMERICA ANY WHERE WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER AND NOW I SPEAK FLUENT SPANISH TOO..

    JAPAN ALL SERAMONEY AND VERY LITTLE SUBSTANCE ..
    TUS MAY 18 2010..

  13. Twiss

    I would like to make a comment of the use of the word “SOLDIERS”, this word is in reference to service members who are affiliated with the United States Army. There are no units located at Yokota AFB or in the Fussa area. Please refence as “AIRMEN”.
    Thanks

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  15. Cruton

    it’s spelled YOKOTA not YAKOTA you retards!

  16. Cruton

    it don’t matter twiss, it’s americans… what do you care anyway?

  17. SK9

    Stationed at Yokota 92-97 but passed thru TDY a few times in the 60s-70s-80s…..when yen was 360 to the US dollar it was really great. Also saw it as low as 85 to the $ in the mid 90s. Bar row in Fussa was great but expensive….of course there were some bars that did not allow gaigins in. VFW was very popular – still pricey but cheaper beer than in the clubs. Yumis not only had great BLTs but very GI friendly. Jeannie Rose was working behind the bar two or three doors down from Yumis in the mid-90s…she’d “retired” from her previous career….

  18. REW

    Was stationed at yokota during 1955; i ‘lived’ in an apartment about three blocks from the train station
    but I can’t recall the name of the little village at the train station. The bar at the train station was great
    with all “amenities’ available next door. They had to put me in my duffel bag to ship me back stateside
    as I then couldn’t reinlist overseas. I was in the 35th Field Maintenance squadron engine shop and we
    worked on F-86D aircraft which was the first “dog’ with an afterburner. Good ol’ days there.

  19. samuel welsh

    americans in japan should behave or go to jail.

  20. R Kyes

    Yes Yumi’s Bar was the best bar on the Hon as we called it from 67-72. Most of the airmen who got into trouble deserved what they got.Also most of the real troublemakers went to tokyo,shinjiku or that area and thats where the yakuza hung out.

  21. That’s an interesting find good to know.

  22. Tony

    In April of 2002 my buddy Joe Zelnis & I were in Japan for 2 weeks & went bar hopping outside of Fussa. We started at Tori Fuku for some yakitori & beer around 5 PM. Then went to a place by the railroad tracks with 3 tatami rooms owned by a guy named Yogi His sous chef’s name was Curly. Curly was bald and was funny when doing some of the Three Stooges routines. Yogi’s place was right next to the railroad tracks. Around 1 A.M. we left Yogi’s place. I had been talking with a young Japanese business man who provided me with shochu or something like that which was mixed with soda and it really snuck up on me because I had no idea of the alcohol content as it had the flavor of the soda. When it was time for the young business man to go home, he called a cab. I was impressed because the taxi also arrived with a driver to drive business man’s car home as he was wasted like I was. Why that service is not provided everywhere is beyond me as needless lives would be lost as a result of people driving while they were drunk or under the influence. Some of the Japanese side roads are very narrow.

    From Yogi’s we hopped on our bicycles and back road past the train station to the main road, took a left on the main drag back towards Yokota AB. Just before reaching the street know as AP Alley, we stopped at a place run by a woman named Toshuku and her two daughters. One of the girls could stick a 50 yen coin in her nose & her sister couldn’t which for some stupid reason made her feel jealous. Toshiku and her daughters were all gorgeous. We stopped there for an hour or so for a beer or two and then went to AP Alley. There was a huge bar/club not far from the main road that ran in/out of the Yokota AB main gate. If you were coming from Yokota, you would simply make a left and the large place was just on the right. Joe knew the owner and we started talking. For some reason, this Japanese man reminded me of the character named Huggie Bear on the Starsky & Hutch TV show. He seemed to know everything that was going on around Fussa. It must of been 3 A.M. by then. I do not recall the name of the owner & by then I was barely conscious as a result of the shochu and the beers I had at Toshi’s place and this place, which also had a dance floor. I remembered a story my friend Joe had told me many years ago when we were in England together during our active duty Air Force days at RAF Chicksands.

    Joe was first assigned to Misawa AB in the early 60′s and eventually Yokota AB where he was stationed on & off for about 20 years. He retired from the Air Force at Yokota and ran the slot machine maintenance shop. Anyway the story was about a guy who was looking for some prostitute who had a unique talent named Jeannie Rose. It seems this guy’s father first met Jeannie Rose during an R&R from Korea back in the 1950′s and during Vietnam, the old man told his son about Jeannie’s talent. Jeannie, so Joe told me was famous for humming the Star Spangled Banner while providing a guy oral pleasure. So this guy asked Joe if he knew about Jeannie Rose. Joe knew exactly where- someplace near Tachi, I believe, and ended up taking the guy to see her. Joe was waiting in the Jeannie’s living room while drinking something he almost choked on when he starts hearing Jeannie hum the Start Spangled Banner…

    So anyhow, I ask the club owner if he knew of Jeannie Rose & he says that Jeannie owns the bar right next to his. Holy moly- what are the odds of that? So we quickly finished our drinks and walked next door. Jeannie is now an old, heavy-set momma-san. There is a small bar with 4-5 stools. In the bar is a Japanese couple and Jeannie was standing behind the bar. I really didn’t want another drink of anything as I was still rather lit from the shochu earlier. I just wanted to take pictures of us & with Jeannie Rose. We ordered a round of drinks- for four of us ( Jeannie, the girl, Joe & myself) was about $100…yikes! It looked to me that Jeannie and the young woman were drinking club soda- ka-ching! The young lady it turns out was what my friend Joe told be was a companion woman. She is not necessarily a prostitute as much as she is to simply provide single gentlemen companionship or conversation if they are alone at the bar- it was good for business. I figured something was up after the Japanese gentlemen got up & left, leaving the young lady by herself- it seemed odd as I thought they we a couple. I realized even more was odd when this gorgeous woman places her hand on my inner thigh…hello! It was then when I got up and we started taking pictures of Jeannie, Joe, and myself. I happened to have a business card on me & Jeannie gave me her autograph which was simply signed by her putting on fresh lipstick and kissing the back of the card. That was back in April 2002. I imagine Jeannie has gone up to hummer heaven…. Every time I hear the Star Spangled Bangle, I wonder about Jeanie and how she ever got the idea to do that.

  23. Dale

    77-78, and other stop overs later years. Fussa is one of tamest places in Asia as far as bar rows go but had some great times. Tony, you embarrased me. Just curious what the count was. I used to pop in her old place by Yumi and catch Airman I knew waiting their time sipping tee. I had a buddie I nicknamed Jeanie which everyone who knew him used the name. I remember she had a hugh safe in the waiting room, people wondered how much money was in there. I enjoyed the place, anybody remember the Chicken Shack.

  24. Dale

    Found the Chickan Shack web site wow same owner, I know him well I’ll have to post a comment to him. The heavy metal grunge bands back then were jamming then and was quite the party. Quite the crazy sub-culture in there. Best yakisoba in Japan at thet time to carb you up. They used the big Udon noodles to make it with big chunks of ham. I thing it was Takahashi (Igai) girl friend that cooked it up. I gave free lessons in Foosball as long as challenge money went in the machine. He’ll know. Hope Buzzie is doing well. Memory lane.

  25. Dan Plumlee

    I loved to hang down at bar row back in 83-85. My favorite spot was the 49 club. The barkeep Mia, would sometimes let me tend bar while she grabbed ice from the 7-11. It was a great scene for a young man, an easy intro into the fringe of Japanese culture, far better than the NCO club. Walking into the row at night felt like coming home. You knew people, you met people, you were free to wander and relax. We relics of the night, Japanese and American, would have breakfast together when the sun came up. I never remember it getting out of hand though young people drinking does get sloppy.

    In 84, they locked down the gate at night between bar row and the dorms that housed the single folk. My memory tells me it was to curb folks doing their drinking off base. I sat myself down at a meeting with the brass and tried to argue against it. I was a young Sr Airman and I’m sure I didn’t make a great showing of it. The result was the base turned an easy walk to a cab ride or a car drive. To me that was a top-down dictate guaranteed to up the DUI count. I expect you might see a numbers jump around that time.

    The 49 Club, The Chicken Shack, Yumis. What was the name of the upstairs bar where a young Japanese girl would play keyboard and sing songs like “Sunny” and you could play chess at the bar?

  26. John

    I remember Jennie’s safe and the six layers of wall paper on the walls in her house in Tachi. Each layer was filled with names, home towns, and dates. She moved to Fussa in 1972. I went back one final time prior to leaving Japan in 74. It was rummered that there was a lot of money in the safe. Back in those days 1500 yen was the going price. Less than 5 dollars. How times have changed.

  27. Tony

    Reference my entry on 7/8/2007 up above written at 4:35 A.M. Need to make a correction. In the second paragraph, I mentioned AP Alley. WRONG! I meant Bar Row. Joe & I had made a trip up to Misawa A.B. and a pilgrimage to AP Alley up there. Gomenasai! We took the bullet train ( Shinkansen) which stopped in Sendai. It was amazing to see the destruction of the earthquake/tsunami from March 2011.

    I believe the guy I mentioned reminded me as Huggie Bear was actually Yumi. It is hard to believe all the stories written after I first wrote up above about the way Bar Row changed after 2002. When we were there, there was none of the nonsense going on like people getting in fights or worse. We rode our bicycles wherever we had to go & never worried about someone ripping it off or our safety.

    I spent half of my service career overseas and never had a problem. My tours were spent in Europe and as long as on realized they were a guest in a foreign country, you were treated as a guest. Italy, Greece, Germany, England, Austria, France, etc were all great places to go….unless, one acted like an
    ‘ugly” American.

  28. I remember Jennie‚Äôs safe and the six layers of wall paper on the walls in her house in Tachi. Each layer was filled with names, home towns, and dates. She moved to Fussa in 1972. I went back one final time prior to leaving Japan in 74. It was rummered that there was a lot of money in the safe. Back in those days 1500 yen was the going price. Less than 5 dollars. How times have changed. Now that I am 69 I wish I could go back one more time. As Bob Hope used to say “thanks for the memories”.

  29. Curious

    Not in the military, we are civilians and are wanting to go out drinking tonight but don’t want to go all the way into Tokyo, we were told there is a bar row in Fussa can anyone tell us what bars offer happy hrs on thursday or where there is a good place for us to go????

  30. Don

    Reading Leigh’s comments from 2010. So the wives were really running a prostituiton ring? That is so hard to believe. I also heard about that happening during deployment with some of the female service members. Is this a prevalent problem in the military?

  31. Babatu

    Hi I was one of three Bounchers at Eddies from 90-93, much to the dismay of Air Force something about the Sofa agreement. Only thing it applied to females working off base in clubs serving drinks to the Japanese public. I did none of that I got paid to see that everyone had a good time help those who over id the drinking to get out the club and on their way back to the base. The only problems I had were with drunk Gi’s, underage dependent kids trying to sneak into Edddies and some silly OSI agent dressed like a 60′s hippy with a mi military air cut asking me about buying some drugs using some really out dated slang called Jive on me. First thing I told him was to use his collocal english, get your ass out from in front of the club or I will call the local police to deal with your dumb ass. My friend from Ghana wanted to cut his ass up but I told him no to much paperwork for me to fill out. The blood drop from the agents face and he spoke like he had some sense and asked to go inside I told him no. My friend told him he wass going to cut him down the street and he took off running, we laugh for an hour after that. Eddies was a nice place to come and dance from 90-93. The Government put some pressure on my wife since she was active duty abouy me working there, had only one fight this airman came in drunk wanting to fight some Paki and I forced him out the door told him to go back to the dorm. I turn away and he hit me in the eye, so town patrol came and took me to the hospital wife was not pleased about that one. Airman got a article 15 I hasd to stop working the door. So I hung out all night keeping watch. Eddie’s got to so poplar back then we use to pull people from Rippongi and Chiba clubs so the girls could meet GI’s and the international folks like Irainians, Paki’s, Africans, who ever was working in Japan would come to Eddies. The place was only rated for 320 people but we pack 500 to 700 people anight in there. Eddie the owner was what tell thay called a Korean, His wife was the true owner the Yakusa allowed Eddie’s to open as a country western place at first and he was about one of three places a GI could go into on Bar Row. I meet the Local #2 Boss a few times and was shocked to see him in the NCO club a few times. I did manage to get on Japanese TV show with two comedians but they were trying to break into music so it was a Bar setting I was the Bartender no speaking parts. Did a Video for some singing I was the Kids Grandfather just narrated a few lines, never seen that video yet. Told my agent that I will not do any thing that was disrespectful to my people so I did not get that much work lolol anyway Eddies was cool had a great time being the bouncer there met a huge amount of people fom around the world and “Mike” if that is you that help me out that night Thanks man.

  32. Charlie Sommers

    I remember you Fred Padgett, you were in the 2127th Comm. Sqd. with me. I was at Yokota from 62-67 and again in 68-71. When we didn’t care for the trip to Tachikawa to visit Jeanie we were happy to patronize some Fussa locals named Shades, Bobo, and Nice Nice. Some of the most pleasant memories I have are of the eight years I lived in Japan.

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  36. Sky (when in Japan )

    I met my wife at club 49 , spent a lot of time there late 80′s and the 90′s,
    I lol when I hear the yakuza like the USA gambleing places are all nice guys.
    After leaving the USAF I became a gardener in Japan for five years and it was the best time of my life. You can’t talk about some one intill you live there life it’s just silly, the Japanese are some of the nicested peaple I have ever meet.

  37. Sorry Charlie but I worked in Bldg #4, CBPO from 69 – 74.

  38. Charlie Sommers

    LOL Fred, we must have had two Fred Padgetts at Yokota at the same time. The one I knew was an air traffic controller in the RAPCON run by the 2127th and may have been there a little bit earlier than you. I was there from 1961-66 and again from 1968-71. I was in the control tower at Yokota when I wasn’t in Fussa or Ushihama. I married a girl from Zaitsumachi in Tokyo and we are still together 49 years later.

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  45. Anyone remember “Mama-san’s Snack Bar” ?

  46. In mid 1970s on Bar Row, anybody remember Al’s Supper Club and Mama-San’s Snack restaurant/bar?

  47. Command Crew Member = VIP-118 - 54 3297

    WOW! Things were dicey in “some” places when I was stationed at Yokota from 1969 to 1972, but it sounds like it is a total nightmare now. Actually there were two “Bar Districts” back then. One out side of Yokota and one near the old Tachikawa AB. When I was in the Air Force, the larger issue for superiors was dealing with illegal substances, like Pot, Hash, LSD, amphetamines…which was far more common and available than you would have thought possible. The smell of pot hung in the air daily. Barracks were rank with the smell of pot, incense, and lamps burning perfumed oils. Stoner’s were everywhere. The other issue was venereal diseases. The Clap being the more prevalent one. Another issue, which was not openly discussed but awareness of it existed was that of gay military members. Both in the enlisted and within the officer corps. There was one gay bar in Fussa City.
    Drinking was also a wide spread problem, as was gambling, and the most troublesome airmen were the younger guys who tanked up via beer drinking binges, because many of them were still under age and couldn’t technically buy hard liquor on base. It was the old burned out lifers that drank hard booze chronically and were incompetent and useless while they bide their time until retirement. Saw many of them like that. They wreaked of alcohol on the job…Alcoholism was a BIG problem. So was domestic abuse between spouses, and some stories about child sexual abuse within military families.
    If these younger underage guys then went into town to the seedy quasi-whore house bars, they could buy hard liquor there, including Absinthe.( not recommended ) They would become loud obnoxious sloppy drunks. The quintessential ugly Americans, or John Wayne’s who wanted to fight everyone.
    The JN’s didn’t have a lot of access to Pot, hashish, etc… and always were looking towards some G.I. with connections or a stash of his own. The young G.I. with money burning a hole through his pocket and a couple of joints to share as well, wouldn’t have any problems getting some phony baloney B-Girl to cozy up to him for a good time after hours. I saw this routinely. As for myself, I didn’t do drugs of any sort, and only drank an occasional mixed drink at parties. ( I drank mild wine coolers. ) Because of my special assignment to the Yokota Base Commanders ” Command Crew ” and his personal aircraft… ( which was by invitation only, for they came to you, you didn’t go to them! ) I couldn’t risk getting into situations with others or on my own that would have reflected negatively on me or the other Crew members. To do so, would assure you’re immediate dismissal from the crew. So, I stayed out of trouble! Being a Command Crew member had it’s privileges that no one else had. We wore special caps, belts, and had uniform and jacket patches that signified us. Our personal vehicles too had Command Crew tags, which meant we could pretty much park where ever we wanted too… even on the flight line if needed. Not even the base police messed with us. During my tour I never received one traffic violation, either on base or off.
    I had my own car, which was a used Honda S600 sports car and new Kawasaki W-650 motorcycle. I lived off of base in a small rented 2 bedroom house, as an A1C *, and then Sergeant E-4. (* I was able to live off of base, because Gen. Graham told me I could, even as an A1C. Which otherwise wasn’t permitted if you were single, like I was in the beginning. ) The house rent was $ 45.00 a month. Very affordable. We Crew Members never had to report for base details or barrack’s duties. There were other perks too… like being able to cut in front of chow lines, or have any of our paper work processed immediately on demand… etc. I never had a barracks billet assignment. For over two years I lived off of base, and the base locator office had no idea of where I was living. Like I indicated, we were Special and Spoiled. VERY SPOILED. What was required of Crew Members was this… we were essentially on call 24 hr’s a day, 365 days a year. If we had to come in at 3:00 am because the General was coming back from one his duty missions, then we had to be there and then take care of ALL of the aircraft’s needs until it was signed off and ready for flight again. Even if this meant working 10 days in a row without a day off! We had our own hangar, ( No. 5 ) so therefore we didn’t have to work outside in all of the weather conditions. The hangar was heated in the wintertime, and we would acquisition portable ground unit aircraft air conditioning units to cool the hangar during the July and August humid days… which could be nearly unbearable at times other wise. The plus side of being a Command Crew member was this; when the aircraft was gone, we were off of duty to do as we pleased. We could go where we wanted and stay over night as well. Once, Gen Graham and his officers took off in early June, and were gone for a total of 79 days straight. With the possibility of it going to 90 days. We were off of duty, and didn’t have to take a leave. It was PURE GRAVY! So I and others toured Japan on our motorcycles, just sight seeing and staying over night in rustic Japanese Inns, We just rode where the roads led us and ended up at a naval base, went to a Marine base, and traveled the coast line. We went to the mountains and camped, and we went to Mt. Fuji, which became a bit of a challenge on motorcycles. We had the time of our lives pooling our cash and being resourceful and inventive as we discovered out of the way places most would never see. We wanted to go to Hiroshima and see the place that was A-bombed, but weather turned on us and we didn’t go. I and others were into off road motorcycling and I had this old late 50′s era BSA 500 off road motorcycle for that purpose. We routinely tore up the forests and shore lines of Tokyo water reservoir basins in the mountains. We went swimming in the mountains fast moving rivers and also lakes as we found them. We shocked the HELL out of many Japanese locals as we just parked our bikes, pealed off our jeans, shirts, shoes and then dove off of pedestrian bridges into the icy cold torrents flowing down below. They thought we were nuts! Considering, we had no idea of what actually lay below the foaming frothing waters, or the depths, we really did take enormous risks. We would swim for our lives riding the rapids like waters down stream, hitting and bouncing off of boulders and debris, finally finding a shore to make for maybe a half to three quarters of a mile down stream and then have to hike back to our bikes in just our under shorts!!! It was quite the show for the local females who probably had never seen a white guy nearly naked before!
    When we finally did go back to Yokota a day before the plane was due to arrive, we were sporting two inch long beards, and very unruly mop hair cuts… but were we ever suntanned. Whoa! As I and three other guys walked into the hangar to get the ETA of the aircraft, we were shocked to see it sitting there in the hangar already. I had came back three days early. When one of pilots who was a a full bird, saw us, at first he didn’t recognize us. Then he his jaw dropped and and he let out a laugh… “What the Hell is this… The new Air Force look, or are you guys confused and think you’re in the NAVY ?” ( referring to the new directives of Admiral Zumwalt and allowing Naval Personnel to grow beards. ) As it turned out, the aircraft came home limping with an engine out and another about to give out. Plus it had a myriad of other issues too that grounded it with half a dozen red ‘X’s”. Dan, our crew chief to us to go home, get some rest, and “CLEAN YOURSELVES UP TO UNIFORM STANDARDS” and report back in the next day, on Saturday at 6:30 AM….because it was going to be a LONG LONG weekend of babysitting the aircraft as the specialists poured in to “Fix and sign off the broken systems” one by one, hour by hour, day after day, into the wee hours of the night, allowing us to nap or sleep on cots once in a while in the hangar office back room…to get some rest, and then back out there again assisting, and watching, monitoring… for a week….. We ate in the hangar, slept in the hangar, showered in the hangar JN’s showers, and laundered our clothing in the JN washing and laundering room. This is what Crew Life was all about. General Grahams private aircraft; VIP-C118 54-3297 was our Goddess, and we worshiped her and saw to her every need and whim. And she was good to us and gave us great rewards in return… Because of our dedication, Gen. Graham made sure his “Boys” were all given “privileges”.

    Here’s a special tid-bit of information:
    This happened twice. One late night as some of us were sitting out in the summer night darkness at the end of the runways in the grassy areas, unseen in our unit pickup truck, listening the FEN radio softly, and the off and on chatter of the Control Tower radio, drinking coffee, talking and waiting for Gen. Grahams aircraft to show up… When an all flat black, unmarked C-130 would suddenly come in fast and land, and as soon as they hit the deck, they shut off all of the aircraft’s lights, and taxied slowly out to a remote darkened area near us, that we could easily watch. They were not aware we were out there. Immediately two step vans pulled right up next to the C-130′s rear cargo door as it opened up. We sat there quietly with binoculars watching the men quickly unload large bales of something into the van’s. They were in a hurry, and didn’t worry about transferring the cargo carefully. They just tossed it. Then the vans took off with their lights out and headed for the back gate… as the C-130 then fired up again, turned around and took off… to where ever. What we witnessed, was military marijuana running. We eventually became aware of Gold Smuggling too. One Master Sergeant was busted for it and sent to prison. There was also a group of guys busted for gun running weapons out of the war zones and into Japan. It was capital offense in Japan. We were aware of ” fact finding missions ” as a cover excuse, by officers and their wives who took C-130′s or other cargo planes to the Philippines, Okinawa, Korea, Vietnam, and other great places to “SHOP” and brought back plane loads of furniture, cases of booze, baskets of fruits and veggies, pets, tailored made clothing and leather goods, electronics, sporting goods and just about everything else…all shipped in on military aircraft on the sly, never claiming the imports or duty tariffs. Back then, it was the Wild West Overseas Military and just about everyone who know anybody else was in on it. I was involved in two such “sorties” to haul furniture on the General’s bird. I was informed by someone who would have been privy to this info, that some high ranking air force people had brought a half dozen young undocumented and illegal Vietnamese girls into Japan and had them kept in secret off base apartments, until they could get them out on a C-141 and back to the states… either as girlfriends, or sex slaves. Yes indeed, it was all a pirates nest of very illegal activities. I never spoke of it. We ALL knew to keep our mouths shut.
    As far as fighting was concerned, back then fights were mostly amongst base personnel. There were two base riots on Yokota, because of hatred between Whites and Blacks. The racism and division between the two races was vicious and blatant. The base leadership tried twice to implement “coming together, and joining hands” base social functions to ease the racial tensions, but it was joke! In fact I think it actually made the situation worse, because they were trying coarse feelings and attitudes of personnel towards something that was unnatural for those days and times. After all, these years were just after the LA and Detroit riots. There was a lot of distrust and antipathy towards each others race. So, in the end, it only made Whites and Blacks more angry and resentful of the other… Another issue that didn’t help matters much was that many of the young Blacks back then were militant,racist,antagonistic,belligerent,foulmouthed,disrespectful,jive-ass, ignorant, and flagrantly violated Base rules. They called us whites Honky and Cracker to our face, and we called them Nigger’s and Coon’s, right back in their face. I’m not joking here on this. Quite often there would be big fights that would break out at the Base Airman’s club because some black guy would horn in on some white guys girl to piss him off. It was also commonplace for White guys to find that their on-base rooms and locker or their cars were broken into at night and either money or personal possessions taken. It was common to hear that blacks were discovered to be the one’s behind the crime. Black airmen gangs would jump a single white guy and beat him severely. Then the whites would be outraged and storm the black barracks and trash the place and open the fire hoses inside of the their barracks flooding it. Dumpsters would be set on fire too. Quite a few black airmen ended up in the base jail and busted as well because of burglaries. These hatreds and tensions would spill over off duty and many a nasty fight in the alleyways of the Bar Districts would erupt on Fri and Sat eves. Many guys ended up with serious injuries. Back then, The Fussa Area bar row was largely claimed by whites only. The Blacks went to another city area and took that over…in Shinzuku.
    Personally, I liked the bar area outside of Tachikawa better…whenever I went there with other guys, and that was rarely. These bars were more old world Japanese and if you spoke the language well enough,( I took Japanese lessons on-base ) you could go into places that weren’t normally receptive to younger G.I’s. I saw many guys puking their guts out in the streets of Fussa…or just laying there passed out cold. It was common to witness some irate guy involved in a heated argument with some Bar Hussy who he thought had used him for all of his money and then wouldn’t “put out” on demand. Such saps! Many bar operators would BAN some guys for a year because of his constant trouble making with the girls. I always found the whole scene of ” Hey Honey, you buy me drink, I sit with you ” and all of the come on’s and hustles a sick twisted joke on the hapless, lonely, stupid, gullible sad sack losers from ALL Branches… ALL of the really Drop Dead Gorgeous Bar Girl’s worked the places where only Japanese males were patrons and spent BIG money on them. Also, most of those girls had full time boy friends and weren’t going to “date” anyone! Most of these girl’s had surgeries to make them more beautiful looking as well. I’d bet today, they go to great lengths and expense to remake their faces and bodies look like angels right out of heaven! During the time period I was in Japan, ALL of the bar-girls were fully clothed. They typically wore tight sleeveless short dresses and heels or a short top with shorts, exposing only their midriff. I can only imagine how little they must wear today. I imagine that very little is covered up. Probably a lovely retinue of a Camel-Toe Cavalcade on Parade! Knowing them and how far they will go to chisel a guy out of dollar it has to be more like nearly naked pole dancers and strippers nowadays… Lots of Laser Lights, Loud Music, Sex on Display, and all very underworld Seedy! Just the type of place for a young man to be fully debauched and left broken hearted without explanation along with an emptied wallet.
    Also another thing, none of the girls back then were tattooed, or full of body piercings. I imagine that is now lost too.
    Oddly, there was one place that had quite a few Japanese “Girly-Boy” bar girls. That was in a discreet place outside of Tachi- One gal was named Yuko and she was stunning to behold. I almost passed out when the pub owner told me she was in fact a guy! I had never known such women like that existed until then. Yuko liked me and we would dance to the band music. ( I have always been open minded ) The other guys were terrified of her. The looks on their faces as they watched her writhe and wriggle while dancing in my arms was hilarious. What a bunch of uptight anal-retentive’s!!! Many Guys took to chasing ” jail bait school girls ” which was a constant problem. Japanese society hated it, and far too many 14 and 15 year girls were knocked up by some asshole who conned her into “partying”. I too had a girlfriend. I was 20-23, and she was 28-31. She worked in the Yokota Officer’s Club offices as a secretary, and spoke perfect English. We dated for six months, and then I married her. Kenoi was smart, pretty, tiny @ 4’7″, and the love of my life. Many Officers from Yokota had tried to date her, and she never accepted their overtures. I met her at a concert and we danced and laughed. When I first met her, I thought she was still a teenager! She looked like one… I never touched her in an inappropriate way, or came onto her. She was just someone to dance with, talk with and kid with a little too. She asked me where I was stationed. I told her. She was surprised, because she knew Gen. Graham. She went home with her girlfriend and went my way. Two weeks later, at the aircraft hanger during duty hours I got a phone call, from Kenoi! She asked me if I remembered her? Of course I did. Then she asked me I would be interested in going out to dinner with her sometime and we could “talk”! We did. A couple of days later, one of aircraft pilots told me that Kenoi had been asking questions about me with him, because she knew he was also a Member of the Crew… And that was how I met my Japanese wife. I never dated or chased a BAR ROW girl. That was never my style.
    Sounds like the situation in general surrounding Yokota and the BAR-WHORE-Distict worsened to the point it is now Off Limits and dangerous. If the Yakuzu, Extortion, Fire Bombings, Money, Whores, Drugs, and Guns and Knives are involved… then you know it is REALLY BAD! Yeesh. I’m glad I am a senior citizen now… all of that wild craziness of youth is long behind me. But, I will remain forever proud of my membership and tour with the Command Crew at Yokota Air Force Base. The Air Force of those days is a bygone gone era. It was the time when nothing was computerized and everything was slow to roll. Records could be easily “on Purpose” lost and you could stay under the radar for years on end. The method of operating “Out of sight, out of Mind” actually worked back then. The only things you needed to make sure of was that you had a chow card, were on record with payroll via your current orders, and had a mail box. Everything else was optional. I never registered with the base locator office, or with the base clinic. My vehicles were registered with Tachikawa only. Not Yokota. I never lived in the barracks, didn’t use the base linen services, never went to the Airman’s or NCO clubs at Yokota. I did go to the NCO club at Tachikawa and also ate at the snack bars there. My wife and I eventually shopped for groceries at Tachikawa as well. We went to movies at Tachi, and bowled there. It also had the biggest and best BX. Yokota was my duty station at Hangar 5 and with the Crew – and that was it. I wanted nothing else to do with the base other than that. All mail was snail mail and hand delivered by couriers. Most Offices were buried in mountains of records and forms that were behind and out of date. If you knew how to play the system and what it’s weaknesses were, you basically didn’t exist on record other than with payroll. Back in those days when lunacy and trouble makers lurked every where, it was in your best interests to be unknown. Once I was invited to become a Command Crew Member, and only reported to and took orders from the Officer’s and Crew Chief of it, I no longer had to work at being off of the radar. Once I was a part of that team, I was fully insulated from everything else for 2 years. It was a unique and mostly unheard of gravy assignment that very few men got to experience.

  48. loaded with poo 4 u

    quite the contrary Command Crew Member = VIP-118 – 54 3297!,
    i was there 1971-73,

    you were very lucky indeed and smart too. to have such a good afsc and a nice situation .

    however i was there and know and say much the opposite of what you state.
    i was rock and roll and there wasn`t much to be had regularly .
    military radio played r&r a few hours a day some days of the week,
    the rest given to junk that didnt matter to me..
    DRUGS , pot , in japan , every one was scared of osi and piss tests, yes??
    if pot was to be found i did and only 2 times during my stay.
    i did get some bloter acid in the mail one time and japan nearly freaked me out .
    now them high school girl dependents were real nice , the seniors were 17,18 up to 19 years old, and they spoke english and shared our culture .i was only 21 years old my self.

    the barracks were maintained by a house boy we paid for and it was not cheap and i was e4, over two years tig.

    i took two college classes in the japanese language from the university of maryland on base, i learned how to read and write low level japanese. now that was a difficult task.

    now lets all sadly but clearly REMEMBER the WATER BUSINESS ..
    thats them ” hostesses ” Command Crew Member did a sufficient job describing there activities . ultimatly how totally worth less they were..
    going to the thailand or philippines was where the serious action was. not stuffed shirt ,over blown japan.

    unfortunately aggrandizers are abundant and apathy rules.
    welcome to the liars club.

  49. Wow!! A lot history in these posts. I was at Yokota 6 years and partied on and off base. I used to go to VFW and bar row and never had any problems. Yes, there are Yakuza and drugs, but much less than the USA per square mile, with more population. The Japanese were ALWAYS courteous, and yes, I met Yakuza–a different breed. While there examples were made of many DWI/DUI and one was the base commander, a full Colonel in his own military vehicle–what a shame. We had just honored him with Order of the Sword, threw my cup away. I agree with the earlier posts than DUIs were ON BASE and trouble in Fussa City was caused by drunken, loud, and rude military troops because I witnessed it on occasion. It’s sad that a few make the majority look bad. However, the commanders and security police (now security forces) did their best to educate folks and to prevent trouble. Other events creating anti-American sentiment were rapes in Okinawa by various military service individuals. So yes, there were some bad seeds causing off post incidents, some international, but not caused by Japanese residents off base.

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