On Saturday, April 13, JUMP hosted a booth at the Sakura Matsuri on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The Sakura Matsuri is the largest Japanese cultural festival in the United States and features many Japanese-interest groups, food vendors, and performances. The Cherry Blossom Festival itself is a celebration of the 3,000 cherry blossom trees the mayor of Tokyo gifted to Washington, D.C. in 1912.
The booth gave JUMP staff a great opportunity to talk to potential or current JUMP members face-to-face and hear about their experiences in Japan. Many stopped by with their families to discuss their memories from when they were stationed in Japan and to learn about ways to become more involved. Visitors were encouraged to follow JUMP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Events like the Cherry Blossom Festival are a great opportunity for introducing those who served or lived in Japan to programs like JUMP, which brings elements of Japanese culture to the U.S. for those who were once immersed in the culture.
JUMP connects past and present service members, families, and government civilians who have served in Japan. If you did not have the chance to see us at this festival, join the JUMP network by signing up for the JUMP Newsletter.
Adults and children alike flocked to the JUMP booth at this year’s Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, where JUMP offered free merchandise and kingyo sukui (goldfish scooping) for the second year in a row. All ages took a stab at the traditional festival game and won candy and JUMP swag for their hard work. Many of the attendees were former or current service members looking for a taste of Japan in D.C.
The Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, known as the largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in the US, was the perfect chance for those with an interest in Japan to experience a bit of the culture while meeting others with similar interests.
The festival took place in the Capitol Waterfront neighborhood in Washington, D.C. on April 8, 2017. In addition to educational booths, this year’s festival was a call back to the summer festivals peppered throughout Japan with vendors selling yakisoba and takoyaki and traditional and contemporary musical performances.
Many thanks to those who came by and joined us for kingyo sukui at this year’s event, and to those who joined the JUMP network! This year we have plenty of fun events coming up, so sign up for our newsletter and stay tuned for more information.
JUMP deepened and broadened its focus and event offerings in its second year, while rerunning a few old hits. In January, we held an event focusing on U.S. bases on Okinawa featuring the chairman and CEO of Sasakawa USA, Admiral Dennis Blair, JUMP program director Lieutenant Colonel James Kendall and Lieutenant General Chip Gregson. The three had written a report on the issue, which has become more and more politically volatile recently.
In February, we held a networking event in Port Tampa Bay to honor veterans who had been stationed in Japan and let them meet Japanese people living in the Tampa Bay area. On a lighter note, we also attended the Japan Festival at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, a family-friendly affair with a ninja skit, Okinawan classical dance, and Japanese toys.
March kicked off with a joint US-Japanese military band concert held at the Embassy of Japan to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the March 11, 2011 tsunami and thank the U.S. for its efforts to help. Lieutenant General Kenneth Glueck and LtCol Kendall delivered remarks. One of the highlights of the year was our first annual dinner at the Army and Navy Club, where General Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, joined Adm Blair to speak about the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Save the date for our second annual dinner coming up this spring!
The evening networking continued later in the month with an open bar at Sine’ Irish Pub in Arlington and a reception in Los Angeles for service members who have been stationed in Japan. And once again, we participated in a kid-friendly festival: the April Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) in Washington, D.C., the largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in America. Our booth offered kingyo sukui, a traditional Japanese goldfish-catching game.
Japan loves baseball, so we had to bring back the popular baseball game event from 2015. This year, we visited a Padres-Marlins game in San Diego in June, which brought together American sailors with Japanese sailors visiting for a port call. Retired Japanese pro baseball pitcher Takashi Saito even showed up. In July, JUMP headed to the Big Easy for an event at the National World War II Museum. The keynote speaker, Lieutenant General Burt Field, celebrated the progress in U.S.-Japan relations in the past 70 years.
September was a busy month for JUMP — we had a reception at the Marine Corps Base Quantico that reunited Marines with a connection to Japan. Then at an event at Seattle’s Nisei Veterans Committee Memorial Hall, we honored other veterans with a connection to Japan: second-generation Japanese-Americans who fought for the U.S. in World War II. Distinguished guests included the consul general of Japan and generals from both countries. At the end of the month, our members acquainted themselves with a selection of Japanese whiskies and sake at a tasting event at the Army and Navy Club.
Our final two events this year were continuations of successful gatherings from last year. In October, we met at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola to watch a taiko performance and hear from distinguished speakers, including Consul General Ken Okaniwa and Admiral Patrick Walsh. Our November event at the National War College in Washington, D.C. focused on challenges for the U.S. and Japan in Northeast Asia. We heard from Adm. Blair along with Japanese Rear Admiral Yuki Sekiguchi and prominent scholars of Asia associated with Washington think tanks. JUMP also attended a reception for the Japan Self-Defense Forces at the Japanese Embassy on October 27.
We hope to continue building on this strong foundation of events next year, and thank you to our members for their support! If you’d like to see photos of these events, there are plenty more in our galleries.
2023 The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP)
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