Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Petty Officer 3rd Class Naoko Kishi, center, a public relations specialist from Sasebo Naval Base, poses for a photo with local Japanese residents in Iwakuni City, Japan, Feb. 5, 2019. U.S. and JMSDF service members visited the nursing homes to experience traditional Japanese culture and strengthen bonds with their host nation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Stephen Campbell)
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Petty Officer 3rd Class Naoko Kishi, center, a public relations specialist from Sasebo Naval Base, poses for a photo with local Japanese residents in Iwakuni City, Japan, Feb. 5, 2019. U.S. and JMSDF service members visited the nursing homes to experience traditional Japanese culture and strengthen bonds with their host nation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Stephen Campbell)

MCAS Iwakuni service members visit nursing homes

by Cpl. Stephen Campbell
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

U.S. and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force service members from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Sasebo Naval Base visited the Kinjuen and Hidamarino-ie nursing homes to participate in mamemaki in Iwakuni City, Feb. 2, 2019.

The service members visited the nursing homes to experience traditional Japanese culture and to help strengthen bonds with their host nation.

Mamemaki is an annual tradition of bean throwing to celebrate the coming of spring in Japan. The guests said the phrase “oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” which translates to “evil out, happiness in,” while throwing the beans.

“By throwing the beans, it is supposed to ward off the bad spirits,” said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jerica Peterson, a fixed-wing aircraft crew chief with Marine Aerial-Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152. “I personally love doing things like this because there is always more I can learn from Japanese culture with each event I go to.”

The event began with nursing home residents and service members watching a dance performance. The service members went on to dress as oni demons while the residents threw beans at them, and concluded with snacks, tea and photo taking.

Peterson said that more people should come and do events like this because not only are they fun, but they are a great way to experience the local culture.

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