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Mikasa Park, a short walk from Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, has a statue of Admiral Heihachiro Togo, commander-in-chief of the Japanese Grand Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War.
Mikasa Park, a short walk from Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, has a statue of Admiral Heihachiro Togo, commander-in-chief of the Japanese Grand Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War. (Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripes)
Mikasa Park, a short walk from Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, has a statue of Admiral Heihachiro Togo, commander-in-chief of the Japanese Grand Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War.
Mikasa Park, a short walk from Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, has a statue of Admiral Heihachiro Togo, commander-in-chief of the Japanese Grand Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War. (Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripes)
The guns on Mikasa have working gears so they can aim. I may or may not have pretended to shoot bad guys.
The guns on Mikasa have working gears so they can aim. I may or may not have pretended to shoot bad guys. (Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripes)
Gardens and fountains all around the park are enough to make the park worth visiting.
Gardens and fountains all around the park are enough to make the park worth visiting. (Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripes)
The Mikasa's deck provided views of Yokosuka Naval Base.
The Mikasa's deck provided views of Yokosuka Naval Base. (Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripe)
The heads (seagoing jargon for bathrooms) on Mikasa look luxurious compared to modern ships. And who doesn't think taking a bath is a great idea when the ocean is rocking the ship?
The heads (seagoing jargon for bathrooms) on Mikasa look luxurious compared to modern ships. And who doesn't think taking a bath is a great idea when the ocean is rocking the ship? (Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripes)
Mikasa Park is free and beautiful. The gardens and fountains alone are worth the visit.
Mikasa Park is free and beautiful. The gardens and fountains alone are worth the visit. (Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripes)
The steering room aboard Mikasa looks like something out of Jules Verne. I wanted to drive, but I was informed the ship is cemented in place.
The steering room aboard Mikasa looks like something out of Jules Verne. I wanted to drive, but I was informed the ship is cemented in place. (Trevor Andersen/Stars and Stripes)

After moving into my house off base and getting settled in, it was time to get to know my surroundings.

There are plenty of festivals, museums and shops in the Yokosuka, Japan, area, but perhaps none are as close and convenient as Mikasa Park.

A five-minute walk from the base’s Womble Gate, the park is a nice place to picnic, hang out with friends or take in the fountain show scheduled several times throughout the day. I’ve also heard it’s a great place to view fireworks displays that the base or local community put on during the year. All of this for free.

But for my initial visit, I wanted to check out the eye-catching ship docked in the front of the park.

I learned that the ship was once the flagship of Admiral Heihachiro Togo, commander-in-chief of the Japanese Grand Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War in the early 1900s.

Visitors to the museum can watch videos depicting the ship in action, view living spaces and working compartments as they were used by actual Japanese sailors, and learn about Admiral Togo’s famous maneuver, the Togo Turn.

During the battle of Tsushima in May 1905, Togo split his fleet in two to defeat the Russian navy. There is a large display demonstrating the tactic, which includes moving, miniature models of the ships involved.

I had a lot of fun, which surprised me because museums are not my favorite places to hang out. Maybe my Navy background converged to magically give my brain interest in the place. Whatever it was, it was worth the 500 yen it cost me to get in.

Though it’s not a daylong adventure, it’s worth seeing at least once. If you live near Yokosuka Naval Base, there’s no excuse not to.

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