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Kaori Mukai, left, and Maki Seito, prepare sushi Saturday prior to the grand opening of the new sushi bar in the Misawa Air Base, Japan, Defense Commissary Agency store.
Kaori Mukai, left, and Maki Seito, prepare sushi Saturday prior to the grand opening of the new sushi bar in the Misawa Air Base, Japan, Defense Commissary Agency store. (T.D. Flack / S&S)
Kaori Mukai, left, and Maki Seito, prepare sushi Saturday prior to the grand opening of the new sushi bar in the Misawa Air Base, Japan, Defense Commissary Agency store.
Kaori Mukai, left, and Maki Seito, prepare sushi Saturday prior to the grand opening of the new sushi bar in the Misawa Air Base, Japan, Defense Commissary Agency store. (T.D. Flack / S&S)
Freshly-prepared California rolls sit in the new display cases Saturday just prior to the grand opening of the sushi bar.
Freshly-prepared California rolls sit in the new display cases Saturday just prior to the grand opening of the sushi bar. (T.D. Flack / S&S)
From left: Jacquelin Steel, her twin sister, Stephanie, and David Wray, members of the Dragon-Eagle Taiko drum team, perform Saturday at the grand opening of the sushi bar.
From left: Jacquelin Steel, her twin sister, Stephanie, and David Wray, members of the Dragon-Eagle Taiko drum team, perform Saturday at the grand opening of the sushi bar. (T.D. Flack / S&S)
Kazuko Igarashi, left, and 13-year-old Jacquelin Steel, members of the Dragon-Eagle Taiko drum team, perform at the grand opening.
Kazuko Igarashi, left, and 13-year-old Jacquelin Steel, members of the Dragon-Eagle Taiko drum team, perform at the grand opening. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Colleen Thompson stood among the crowds at the grand opening of the sushi bar in the commissary here Saturday, grinning as she loaded her arms with freshly made tuna, shrimp, salmon and other selections.

"This made my day," she said. "I came in here looking for something to eat."

She was among many on hand for the festival-like grand opening, complete with live American Forces Network radio broadcasts, a booming performance by the Dragon-Eagle Taiko drum team, prize giveaways and free samples.

Prior to the ribbon cutting, 35th Fighter Wing commander Col. David Stilwell joked about the irony of opening a sushi bar on an American base in Japan.

But as he explained, the Defense Commissary Agency sushi bar, operated by primary food supplier Coastal Pacific Food Distributors, is marketing its product for the Western palate.

Stilwell called it "starter" sushi, a good way to transition to the traditional sushi found outside the gate in the local community.

Gregory McGruder, Misawa’s commissary store director, said giving base customers a chance to experience traditional Japanese food while inside the base was a goal.

McGruder worked with Frank Pecoraro, Coastal Pacific Food Distributors president and chief executive officer.

Pecoraro said Saturday that his company invested about $15,000 in the equipment and display cases. They also brought trainers in to teach employees how to make the sushi and invited employees from other commissaries in Japan to help get the operation up and running.

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