MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Kindergarteners with Iwakuni-Kawashimo Kindergarten visited Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for their annual pool visit July 21, 2016.
The Japanese kindergarteners and resident children swam at the outdoor pool, enjoyed lunch at the crossroads and visited the base Zero Hangar.
The tradition began 30 years ago when the first school visited MCAS Iwakuni to use the base pool. Since then it has become an annual tradition for one of the local schools to be granted access to the military installation for a day of chlorinated fun.
Kiyoko Yoshida, director of Iwakuni-Kawashimo Kindergarten, said the children hold fond memories of their visits to MCAS Iwakuni.
“The children remember these visits for many years,” said Yoshida. “They love using the pool and are thankful for the being allowed to have the opportunity to be guests on the base. Even the parents of the children enjoy coming on base and enjoying the pool. They appreciate this visit very much.”
Emili Nimura, a student at Iwakuni-Kawashimo Kindergarten, said she had a lot of fun visiting MCAS Iwakuni.
“I really enjoyed the slide,” said Nimura. “My favorite part was right when you leave the slide and hit the water. I can’t wait to come back.”
Other children found excitement in the vastness of the base pool compared to the ones in their local community.
Noa Umemura, a student at Iwakuni-Kawashimo Kindergarten, said he enjoyed being able to practice his butterfly stroke.
"The pool here is a lot deeper than the one we have,” said Umemura. “The deeper the water, the better it is for me to practice my swimming.”
Yoshida said this time-honored tradition helps build upon the growing relationship between the United States and Japan.
“Every year we look forward to using the base pool in the summertime,” said Yoshida “Every summer we are never let down.”