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TOKYO — Three U.S. military marching bands will join eight of their Japanese counterparts for the two-day Japan Self-Defense Force Marching Band Festival on Friday and Saturday in Budokan Hall, Tokyo.

For the first time this year, the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band from Okinawa will take part.

“This is a great opportunity for Marines to come together with the other services and the Japan Self-Defense Forces to entertain a large audience,” Gunnery Sgt. Steven Palinosky, small ensemble leader, was quoted in a written statement as saying. “We’re very excited because this is the most significant marching festival in Japan and we can use our music and marching to build bridges.”

Each band will perform during the six shows scheduled over two days and each show will conclude with a combined U.S.-Japanese encore performance, according to organizers.

The U.S. Army Japan Band from Camp Zama and Air Force Band of the Pacific-Asia Marching Band from Yokota Air Base also will participate.

They join bands from all branches of the self-defense force as well as Japan’s Defense Academy Band.

The festival is open to the public although advance tickets are required.

Budokan Hall is one of Japan’s most famous musical venues. It started as a judo hall, so its name refers to martial arts. But the hall was the site of The Beatles’ first appearance in Japan; many large music acts still perform there.

U.S. bandleaders in past years have described the festival as a challenge because unlike concerts, where members play facing one general location, the festival uses all of their marching and formation skills.

Staff writer Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.


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