Yokota hosts ‘awesome’ Asian-Pacific festivities
May 21, 2007
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — More than 400 people turned out Saturday at Yokota High School for a taste of Asian-Pacific culture — delivered in an array of food, colors and entertainment.
The annual cultural show is the centerpiece of the base’s Asian & Pacific-Islander Heritage Month celebration, held each May.
“It’s been awesome,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Jeffries, vice president of Yokota’s organizing committee. “A lot more turnout than I thought we’d get. We thought the rain might keep some people away, but everything turned out really good.”
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month commemorates the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States in 1843. It was initially designated a weeklong event in May 1979, but President George H.W. Bush expanded the celebration to a monthlong commemoration in 1990.
It was created to allow Americans of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage an opportunity to showcase the beauty of their culture. This year’s official theme is “Diversity and Unity.”
Songs, dances and martial-arts demonstrations depicting assorted Asian-Pacific cultures marked Saturday’s event. Yokota’s Samurai Taiko team and Tanabata Dancers also performed.
Many visitors grabbed food samples from Korea, Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan.
“Everyone cleaned out the food,” said 2nd Lt. John Wilson of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the organizing committee president. “I’m chalking this up as an outstanding success. It came together and went off well.”
Master Sgt. Darren Lee of the 374th Airlift Wing’s chaplain office coordinated a large part of Saturday’s show. It included an appearance by Chad Rowan, better known as Akebono, the Hawaiian-born former sumo-wrestling champion who lives near Yokota.
The base provides partial funding for the month’s activities. Remaining sponsors include Yokota’s Filipino-American Association, Sons of Hawaii, and the Korean-American Association.
“It brings together all the diversity and friendship on base,” Jeffries said. “Just because we’re in someone else’s country doesn’t mean they always like us. This is important because it allows them to celebrate their heritage and their background. And we get a taste of their heritage, too.”
A cooking demonstration is slated for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Yokota commissary. The month’s closing luncheon takes place May 30 at the Yokota Enlisted Club.