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Japanese visitors check out a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker on Saturday at the 57th annual Japanese-American Friendship Festival at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The two-day event continued Sunday.

Japanese visitors check out a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker on Saturday at the 57th annual Japanese-American Friendship Festival at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The two-day event continued Sunday. (Christopher B. Stoltz / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The 58th annual Japanese-American Friendship Festival takes place this weekend in Hangar 15 and near the south end of Yokota’s flight line.

The two-day event drew about 120,000 people a year ago, and base officials are hopeful of another large turnout. Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

"This is our chance to say thank you to our friends and neighbors here in Japan that have so graciously invited us into their communities," said Capt. Chris Watt, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman.

A variety of U.S. military and Japanese aircraft will be on static display. Visitors may snap photographs and get a close-up peek at the planes.

Flight demonstrations by the C-130, C-12 and UH-1N helicopter also are planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Live entertainment featuring rock, alternative, hip-hop, blues and gospel music will emanate from outdoor and indoor stages. Performances by the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific-Asia, Yokota Samurai Taiko team and Tanabata Dancers are on tap as well.

More than 100 booths are being set up in the festival area, complete with entertainment, games and concessions.

A karate demonstration is scheduled for Saturday.

A day later, the popular Yokota Strong Man Challenge will unfold on the outdoor stage. The fifth annual event begins at noon.

Fireworks are slated for both nights at 8:25 p.m.

Guests must provide photo identification and will be allowed to enter Yokota only on foot through the Supply Gate. Bike racks are available.

However, status-of-forces-agreement personnel will not be allowed to sign in visitor’s vehicles on either day of the festival.

Visit http://www.yokota.af.mil/library/friendshipfestival.asp for more information about the open-base event.

How to get there

The festival takes place in Hangar 15 and along the flight line near the south end of Yokota’s runway.

McGuire Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic from the Supply Gate to Walker Boulevard on the base’s east side. Wilkins Street will be closed to vehicle traffic from Nina Circle to the tennis courts on Davis Street.

Parking is very limited, so organizers recommend using the base shuttle.

Buses will run throughout the day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pickup and drop-off points include the Taiyo Recreation Center, long-term parking lot, Kanto Lodge, Yujo Community Center, Yokota Community Center, Samurai Fitness Center, Hangar 15 and the base theater.

The regular Kanto Express base shuttle is canceled during the two-day event.


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