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Yokota High School students prepare for a performance during their Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at the air base in western Tokyo, Monday, May 6, 2019.
Yokota High School students prepare for a performance during their Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at the air base in western Tokyo, Monday, May 6, 2019. (Allen Onstott/Stars and Stripes)
Yokota High School students prepare for a performance during their Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at the air base in western Tokyo, Monday, May 6, 2019.
Yokota High School students prepare for a performance during their Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at the air base in western Tokyo, Monday, May 6, 2019. (Allen Onstott/Stars and Stripes)
Students wear traditional clothing during the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Monday, May 6, 2019.
Students wear traditional clothing during the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Monday, May 6, 2019. (Allen Onstott/Stars and Stripes)
Kendo practitioners put on a demonstration during the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Monday, May 6, 2019.
Kendo practitioners put on a demonstration during the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Monday, May 6, 2019. (Allen Onstott/Stars and Stripes)
High schoolers perform a Philippine hat dance during an Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Monday, May 6, 2019.
High schoolers perform a Philippine hat dance during an Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Monday, May 6, 2019. (Allen Onstott/Stars and Stripes)
High school students from Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo perform during the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration, Monday, May 6, 2019.
High school students from Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo perform during the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration, Monday, May 6, 2019. (Allen Onstott/Stars and Stripes)
Students and volunteers show off traditional Japanese clothing during the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Monday, May 6, 2019.
Students and volunteers show off traditional Japanese clothing during the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Monday, May 6, 2019. (Allen Onstott/Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Food and culture from Asia and the Pacific Islands was on display this week at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo.

Yokota’s military community and guests packed a high school gymnasium Monday to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month.

“I have a passion about this because of the kids,” said event coordinator Lily Bagtas, who works as a nurse at Yokota’s middle and high schools. “I like to share the culture. It’s a day to educate, engage and empower the kids.”

Seven Pacific cultures were represented, including those from Japan, India, the Philippines, Thailand, China, Korea and Hawaii.

Participants could watch or try their hand at ikebana (flower arranging), origami (paper folding), ink-wash painting, performing a Japanese tea ceremony or dressing in traditional clothing such as kimono or yukata robes. There were also demonstrations by hula dancers, samurai and kendo practitioners.

The event also provided students a chance to taste regional cuisine such as spicy Korean kimchi and Thai and Indian dishes, Bagtas said.

“It is not only education in the classroom, it’s a cultural experience,” she said. “It’s a once in a lifetime that they will be in Japan, then experience all of these things going on.”

onstott.allen@stripes.com

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