Japan-U.S. Joint Concert near Yokota Air Base
Yokota Air Base, Japan -- As the lights dim and the curtains open, a single warm note flows over the Japanese and American audience, melting the language and cultural barriers while strengthening friendships through music.
A joint concert between Yokota Air Base members and the surrounding communities took place at Mizuho View Park Sky Hall in Mizuho, Japan, Feb. 18, 2018. The event included multiple performances by local groups, with the intent to give back to the local community and strengthen bonds through cooperation and music.
“It’s important to show our appreciation to the surrounding communities for the support they give us and all they do for the base,” said Lt. Col. Cristina Moore Urrutia, U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific-Asia commander and conductor. “We are thankful for the Japanese people for hosting us here. We are so grateful to be here and work together to promote the peace and stability in this region.”
This year marked the ninth annual event and has been organized by the North Kanto Defense Bureau since its inception. The location of the event rotates each year between the five cities and one town that circle Yokota Air Base.
“This is a great opportunity to continue a friendship between Yokota and the local communities,” said Makoto Kubomura, North Kanto Defense Bureau director of local cooperation foundations division planning department. “I hope the friendship gained will deepen through this event.”
The concert included six performing groups, three from Yokota Air Base and three from Mizuho. The groups included the Mizuho Cultural Association Dance Club, which has 35 members who practice traditional Japanese dancing, and Luck is a cheerleading dance club of young girls from the Mizuho 1st Elementary School, Yokota Tanabata Dancers, formed in 1973 to promote good will and friendship during the summer festivals, and the Yokota Samurai Daiko, made up of Yokota military, civilians and Japanese employees who play a traditional Japanese drumming called wadaiko.
The Mizuho Youth Symphonic Band, formed in 1969, and the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific-Asia, one of 10 music corps in the U.S. Air Force, mixed and played as one for the event. Each of the band’s conductors took turns and during the finale partnered in the direction of the joint band.
“The country or language the band member’s use doesn’t matter to make their friendship deepen,” said Hisatoshi Muta, Mizuho Youth Symphonic Band conductor. “We don’t see our players as American or Japanese, but simply as friends.”
Muta has been conducting for over 50 years. He enjoys and looks forward to more joint musical events on and off base.
According to Urrutia, through events like this she has learned that the Japanese people love music and she has really enjoyed the interactions and experiences with the local communities.
“Music has a way of crossing those cultural and language barriers that we have,” said Urrutia. “Once we get on the stage together all of those challenges go away and we are able to make beautiful music together; I think that is a wonderful picture of what the relationship is between the Japanese and U.S.”