Festival marks 150th anniversary of Commodore Perry's landing
SHIMODA CITY, Japan — More than 600 U.S. military community members celebrated the 150th anniversary of Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s historic landing in this port city during an annual festival this weekend.
Perry’s move forced the isolated Japan to sign the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Peace and Amity in 1854, opening the country to trade and diplomatic relations. This was the 65th annual Black Ship Festival.
“It’s interesting,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Heather Meier of the 7th Fleet. “Americans and Japanese getting together to celebrate the united history.”
Event organizers offered visitors a glimpse into history with people in traditional Japanese outfits strolling the city, vendors selling gifts and food, and street entertainers performing. Americans and their Japanese hosts also faced-off in various sporting events and U.S. military bands played concerts at sites throughout the city.
“It was fun. People were smiling and they were happy,” said Kris Snider, a Kinnick High School freshman from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, who marched with the school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
“They seemed to be interested in us,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class James Jeremiah, assigned to the USS Cowpens.
He said many of the Japanese he meets, usually from Tokyo and Yokosuka, are used to seeing Americans. Meeting people who don’t see Americans on a regular basis was unique.
“It seems like it’s easier getting to know them and feel more individual to them,” Jeremiah said.
Many said Friday night’s fireworks show was also a highlight.
“Seeing the kids’ reactions is always fun,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tracy Love, assigned to the Cowpens.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Steve Mohacey agreed, saying he enjoyed mingling with the Japanese while watching the fireworks.
“Whether they didn’t speak English or we didn’t speak Japanese, we had a great time,” he said.