MCAS Iwakuni residents build bonds in Tsuzu
TSUZU, Japan -- Residents with the Youth and Teen Center at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, participated in Cultural Day in Tsuzu, Dec. 12, 2015.
This cultural exchange provides both the American and Japanese communities an opportunity to interact, learn about each other’s culture, and make new friends through games, food, and arts and crafts.
The event began with a greeting from Hiroshi Igawa, president of the Federation of Tsuzu Area Residents Association, and Hiroaki Maeno, Mayor of Tsuzu, followed by a Jukendo demonstration kids from Marifu Elementary School.
“I think events like this not only build relationship with the people here, but they open the door for future relationships,” said Paula Smedes, a program assistant with YTC. “Even if we walk away from here today and nobody who was at this event ever speaks to each other again, they will still be more willing to speak to people of a different culture because past events have gone so well.”
Visitors participated in a variety of activities such as mochi pounding, making wooden flutes, walking on bamboo stilts, and much more.
Sariah Richardson, nine, a participant at the event, said she was born in Okinawa, Japan, and knew some Japanese so it was easier for her to communicate with other kids at the event.
“My favorite activity was decorating wooden paddles with the new Japanese friends I made,” said Richardson.
The city has hosted this this cultural exchange since 2011 and YTC participates every year.
“At the beginning of the event I tell everyone to try to speak a little bit of the other language,” said Maeno. “By doing that, the communication progressively gets better. I can see the friendship between Americans and Japanese gradually growing every year because of events like this.”