Japanese and American guests gather in the recreational play zone for the grand opening of the Misawa Kids Center SORAIE in Misawa City, Japan, April 9, 2019. The play zone is one of many rooms offered in the facility and is open from 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday, excluding Tuesday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase)
Japanese and American guests gather in the recreational play zone for the grand opening of the Misawa Kids Center SORAIE in Misawa City, Japan, April 9, 2019. The play zone is one of many rooms offered in the facility and is open from 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday, excluding Tuesday. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase)

New Misawa City kid's center connects American and Japanese youngsters

by Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Misawa Air Base and City officials gathered for the grand opening of the Misawa Kids Center SORAIE, held April 9.

The new children’s facility now serves as a hub for Japanese and American families with kindergarten age children, or younger, to play and learn--all while building bonds and friendships at an early age.

SORAIE includes a recreational play zone, family support center, “milky room” for temporary child care (three to 18 months, reservations needed), a multipurpose area along with other rooms, all of which are aimed toward a fun learning environment.

“I think it is a beautiful new play space and love that there is now a center for all of the little children of Misawa,” said Diane Jones, a Sollars Elementary School fourth grade teacher. “Children soak up language faster than adults, and social skills begin developing at such a young age. Having a place for the younger children to experience another culture is great.”

During the ceremony, Misawa City Mayor Kazumasa Taneichi recognized Harumi Yoshida, the Misawa Soroptimist International president who donated books to the facility, as well as Hidehiro Eguchi and Saki Sakano, who were given certificates for naming the facility SORAIE, meaning a house under the sky.

"It was named with hopes to create a place where children are able to play with a sense of security,” said Taneichi. “Also acting as a house where everyone can gather under the wide open blue sky. I hope this center will support child-rearing families and be loved by many people for years to come.”

The opening ceremony included vocal performances by students with Misawa Catholic Kindergarten and Misawa Air Base’s Sollars Elementary School. The mayor also gave a speech following the performances and participated in a ribbon cutting alongside city and base officials.

“This is a wonderful resource for families, especially during our austere winter months,” said Lt. Col. Sidney Squires, the 35th Mission Support Group deputy commander. “The facility is very impressive and promotes interactive learning through play. The fact that our dependents can use the facility is another example why serving and living in the Misawa community is so very special.”

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