Yokota residents share holiday cheer off-base
FUSSA, Japan — About 80 Yokota Air Base residents ushered in the holiday weekend Saturday by attending a Christmas party at a local nursing home.
The group sang carols, handed out Christmas cards and mingled with 70 Japanese retirees living at the Yokota Home, a short walk from the base’s main gate.
There was a small gospel choir performance and some Yokota Girl Scouts also gave their renditions of favorites such as “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and “Silent Night.”
The exchange was all about spreading holiday cheer.
“I’ve never been to a nursing home before and thought it would be a good opportunity to see some people, get in the spirit,” said Airman 1st Class Jayomar Harris, 24, of Belleville, Ill., who works at the 374th Air Medical Squadron. “They appreciate every minute you spend with them, and I can understand that.”
The base has a long friendship with the retirement facility, which houses 100 people. Since 1995, commanders and community members have taken part in the Yokota Home’s summer festival. The Christmas party also has become an annual visit.
“It started a long time ago, but this is the first time we have had this many [base residents],” said Jack Inagaki, the facility’s director and vice president of the Fussa-Yokota Goodwill Exchange Club. “It means a lot to the people here. They really enjoy the visit and friendship.”
Tech. Sgt. James Sult of the 730th Air Mobility Squadron brought his wife, Monica, and their two daughters, Kierstyn, 14, and Katelyn, 12. He said they’ve only been at Yokota about two months but were very involved in community activities during their 12 years at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
“It’s a way of giving back during the holidays,” said Sult, 36, of Walkerton, Ind. “And it gets us out of the house. We want to submerge ourselves in Japanese culture. This is kind of what we’re looking for.
“It takes away the gloom from the holidays. New place, new people.”