ITT offers sailors the opportunities to see Japan
A Sailor’s tour in Japan should be considered a unique opportunity to witness and be a part of Japanese culture. The Morale and Welfare Recreation (MWR) Information Tours and Ticketing (ITT) office provides Sailors and their families the opportunity to experience the host nation on as wide a scale as possible.
“Our focus is to provide sight-seeing tours year-round that will hopefully give the Sailor and his or her family the opportunity to fully experience Japan without having to spend excessively,” said Al Maige, ITT manager.
Active duty personnel stationed in the forward-deployed area of responsibility have to abide by the current liberty restrictions, which include an off-the streets and in your living quarters’ time frame of 11 p.m. -5 a.m.. Maige says that despite the liberty limitations, it is still possible for anyone to have fun and enjoy their time in Japan.
“It’s become much more difficult with the curfew,” said Maige. “A lot of the things that we try to put out are that although we do offer a lot of tours and a lot of opportunities for both single and families alike to get out and experience Japan, we also encourage them to get out on their own.”
Going out on your own should not be frightening for anyone who is curious and wants to explore.
“We have maps, train schedules and also as a part of our program, we normally give our recommendations for certain times of the year as far as festivals or things that people can attend such as sumo matches and baseball games,” said Maige. “Those types of outings are ones that are generally familiar to everyday life here in Japan. So even though that has become increasing difficult with the curfew, there are a lot of events that you can still do.”
In light of the recent curfew restrictions, commands still encourage Sailors to go out and see the country – as long as they fully abide by the liberty policies that are in place.
“I always encourage Sailors and Families to take advantage of what MWR has to offer,” said Master Chief Fire Controlman Craig A. Hohnstein, 7th fleet staff senior enlisted leader. “Tours are a great way to get off-base and experience Japan without being intimidated by the language and cultural barriers. Since military members can travel during curfew while on an MWR tour it also alleviates the worry and stress to get back to base if they get in a time crunch.”
The ITT office provides an abundant list of things for single and family members to partake in, and according to Gaku Yamada, an ITT recreation specialist and coordinator of tours, by far the most popular tour during the winter season happens to be the Snow Monkey Park and Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture.
“The trip consists of a 6-hour bus ride one way from the base,” said Yamada. “Once you arrive, it takes approximately 45 minutes to walk from the bus to the park area. Even though the customer has to go through this, most customers leave the area with a since of fulfillment.”
Yamada also says that Tokyo Sky Tree is another popular attraction. Since opening May 22, 2012, the tallest tower in the world has had a consistent flow of customers, is very crowded and does not look like its fan base will be slowing down anytime soon.
“Right now, Tokyo Sky Tree is limited to distributing 10,000 tickets per day,” said Yamada. “It is extremely difficult for people to go there on an individual basis and have the opportunity to grasp the full experience. Even though a tour with us does not provide dinners, the customer receives a guaranteed opportunity to take in all the sites of Tokyo Sky Tree, which also includes a ride in a Sumida Riverboat and also you are treated to the sights and sounds of Asakusa. All this for $67.00 per adult, which is a very good price.”
Services at MWR for tours are by no means limited to just U.S. military active duty and their families. Department of Defense (DOD) civilians and retirees are among those allowed to sign up for the seemingly endless opportunities to enjoy ones time here in the land of the rising sun.
For more information on the various tours and services provided, please call the ITT office at 241-5056.