Atsugi to let locals visit base clubs, restaurants
Japanese visitors will be able to sample a bit of American culture Saturday as Naval Air Facility Atsugi starts opening a few of its restaurants and bars to the community.
The Skymasters restaurant and the Officers Club will be open to the public as part of an ongoing outreach program at Atsugi, said base spokesman Brian Naranjo. “This is a way to show the spirit of good will to the local community,” he said.
The two facilities will be open to the public from noon to 9 p.m. To gain access to the base, visitors must present a valid picture identification at the main gate and go through a security check. Upon entering the base, visitors will have to turn over their ID cards in exchange for a paper wristband, Naranjo said.
Security personnel will be posted along the short walk from the main gate to both restaurants, he said.
Both Ayase and Yamato city officials said Tuesday they had been notified of the plan to open on-base restaurants to the public.
“We cannot say whether it is good or bad since it will be carried out in the boundaries of base’s responsibility,” said Takashi Yawaka, chief of Yamato city’s Military Affairs Office. “I am sure that there will be people welcoming the opening at the time when it’s convenient.”
Originally, the proposed hours for the program were from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m., but the times were changed after concerns about the lack of late-night public transportation were voiced by the local community, Naranjo said.
Naranjo said that while alcohol is available for sale at both establishments, the goal of the program is to create a “family-friendly” environment, and the abuse of alcohol is strongly discouraged.
Both yen and U.S. dollars will be accepted at the two restaurants.
In the future, the goal is to open some base facilities to the public on a biweekly basis. Plans for similar availability for other Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities such as the movie theater and food court also are in development, Naranjo said.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.