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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!??

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

  1. Peter Aradi

    Spent four years at Yokota, 1962 to 1966. Remember the “han”, Ginnie Rose of Tachikawa, Shades, Nice Nice, and a lot of evenings at bar row. We had a 10:30 curfew. After a year got wise and spent my drinking money in Kichijoji and Mitaka, towns between Tachikawa and Tokyo. These places were GI free. Reading the posts reminds me “the more things change the more they stay the same.” 52+ years slipped by.
    An interesting note: Married a girl from Tokyo. In June we repeated our honeymoon in Kyoto on our 50th wedding anniversary. Sayonara Fussa, sayonara Japan!

  2. Charlie Sommers

    Spent 8 years total at Yokota. Was there from 1961 to 1968 the first time. Back again as a married man 1968 to 1971. Pleasant memories of Nice Nice, Shades, and Bobo of Fussa as well as Jeanie Rose of Tachikawa during my first hitch. Finally settled down and married a Kyushu girl. Been happily married for almost 54 years but still have treasured memories of my wild days.



  4. Robert Becker

    i was at yakoto afb. 1958. Club Zanzibar. 10 cent night. All drink. Fussamachi was nothing but bars and hostes
    360 yen to dollar. Black market over 400 yen. We were paid in funny money Mpc
    Strange thing my neighbors mother worked at zanzabar

  5. Robert Becker

    Rodney galloway. Was the girl. Short. Black hair. Spoke japanese worked in a bar

    I still have my zanzabar club card. I was there tdy sac. 55th recon rb47s

  6. Rene - Yokota AFB Command Crew Member

    I was stationed at Yokota AFB from 1970 to 1972. My duty assignment was with General Graham’s Command Crew ( hangar 5 – Acft- VIP-118 – 33279 ) as an invited member to join it. This as it would turn out, was the best GRAVY ASSIGNMENT anyone in the USAF could have hoped for. I lived off of base about 10 minutes from the main gate in Fussa- City. I rented a 2 bdrm house for 10,000 Yen a month @ 400 Yen to the dollar- or $250 US dollars. Very affordable. I had a Honda S600 sport car and a Kawasaki W650 motorcycle. In the beginning I was housed at Yamato AS until they closed it and sent everyone packing to Yokota – which I was NOT going to do. I hated barracks living. Since I was a now a new Command Crew Member – I didn’t need permission to live off of base. My boss was the base commander and when I informed him that I was to live off of base – he smiled and nodded, and said, “Just make sure we know the location so if we need you, we can find you!”
    Tachikawa and Fussa city and other area BAR-ROWS and the disgusting nightlife scene of rowdy-loud mouthed, belligerent drunken G.I.’s foolishly blowing money on Japanese skank’s and whores thinking if they spent enough on her she would fuck them – or become a permanent girlfriend – was nothing I was ever remotely interested in. Seeing guys laying in the sewage ditches vomiting their guts out – or passed out cold – and the sight of men making jackasses of themselves over some bar floozy who was conning them out of their money – was such a waste of time, efforts, and cash.
    I spent my money on fine furniture purchased at various outlying cites outside of bases in Japan, Korea, The Philippines, Okinawa, Vietnam, – I bought stereo equipment, vinyl LP’s, camera equipment, optics, a movie camera, a color television set, a couple of great Seiko wrist watches, prescription Ray-Ban sunglasses, clothing, tailored clothes and uniforms, motorcycle leathers, helmet, goggles, boots, gloves, weekly laundry services, art supplies, gasoline, heating fuel oil, electric, snow removal, vehicle insurance, car tires, great gourmet foods – at home and when traveling, fine dining out, a really nice Hibachi grill, Scotch and Fine wines, textiles, linens, house hold goods, hundreds of pounds of books, and more all on an A1c–E/4–E/5 pay grade! I didn’t smoke or use pot or illegal drugs ( which was everywhere and seemingly most were involved with it as the smell of pot and hashish was rife on base. ) I was single, dating a classy, educated, gorgeous Japanese woman who was the Secretary of the Yokota Officers Club who also spoke perfect English, ( not some bar-whore! ) A life of Boozing it up and blowing all of my money on bar-row whores each month would have netted me nothing but empty pockets as well as good dose of VD or herpes. ( most of the girl’s working in the bars were not clean )
    BAR ROWS in any of Asian nations were alike and the come-on’s, ruses, and con’s were the same too. Oddly – what I see today in Nail Salons – is the same CON JOB only used now on American Women. The Massage Parlors are Asian Gangster male owned and operated whore houses, using Asian and other race women.

    One other thing – To be on the Command Crew – you had to be invited to join it – and only via a recommendation of an Officer who could vouch for your character. record, intelligence and USAF professionalism. If the FOUR STAR GENERAL or any of the officers of the crew found out any of us were drunken reprobates and running the bar-rows, getting into troubles, being treated for some venereal disease, and just low class behavior – You would be immediately kicked off of the crew and given some really shitty assignment at some hell hole base else where! To wear a Command Crew Shirt, Jacket and Hat patch – was a thing of honor and it meant you kept every part of your life dignified and exemplary par-excellence. Also, if the General’s wife for some reason didn’t like the vibe she got from you – you were out! There were no second chances! However the clout, prestige and perks of being a member were tremendous. Here are a few examples – NEVER having to do base detail work, never on the rosters for barrack’s orderly duty, not having to live on base if that’s what you wanted to do, not ever having to stand in line’s -such as the chow hall or cafe, for we could cut line and go right to the front, having choice VIP parking – anywhere, didn’t have to salute officer’s not on the crew, but if you wanted to – it was good decision and noticed, (I always did because I liked to pay respect) Quick promotions, many special recognition’s and awards, specialized uniform patches, You only reported to the General or his immediate staff – no one else. We were untouchables, if the General was away with his personal aircraft – we were off of duty for the duration of it’s sortie. IF the aircraft was broken – we worked everyday, without a day off, including weekends, for weeks on end until it was fully signed off and flight ready again. Once we worked and pretty much lived with her ( babysit ) in the hangar for a month without no days off, rotating day and night shifts until all of the problems were addressed and fixed and the aircraft was fully polished out and glistening again. The fuselage, nacelles, props were polished to mirror like finishes. Once we had 91 days off without having to use leave time. That was record for the crew and it created a huge stink later with other squadron commanders who thought that was just too much and certainly violated USAF rules and reg’s. The General told them to butt out and to keep their noses out of his affairs and hands off of his crew!!!! His crew – his rules! Like I say – this was the best possible assignment. I enjoyed every second of it.
    What an era! It’ll NEVER happen again. The Command Crew was disbanded in 1975-76. VIP-118-33279, was decommissioned and is hauling chickens, goats, hay and farmers somewhere in Indonesia I’ll bet! ;-)


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