Friendship Festival breaks recent attendance record at US airlift hub in Tokyo
Stars and Stripes May 22, 2023
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Visitors surged into this U.S. airlift hub in western Tokyo over the weekend for the annual Japanese-American Friendship Festival, which welcomes the surrounding community and worldwide guests.
More than 193,000 people strolled the flight line Saturday and Sunday purchasing souvenirs, sampling American and Asian cuisine, listening to live music and inspecting military aircraft from Japan and the United States.
This year’s event — the 47th of its kind — surpassed the 2019 festival, the last before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2022 event, the first in its wake. Last year, more than 110,000 people attended; 2019 saw 125,000.
Eager guests ran through the last air base checkpoint before the festival grounds to see a collection of aircraft on display, including an F-35A Lighting II stealth fighter, an F-16 Fighting Falcon, a CH-53E Super Stallion and a CV22-Osprey tiltrotor.
Plenty of live entertainment, food vendors and aircraft demonstrations drew massive lines and crowds of onlookers. The festival is part of a long-standing tradition and aims to strengthens the bond between the U.S. military and Japanese community.