MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
One reason Marines may come to Japan is to experience culture and explore its vast history. For some, they do this by visiting local museums and historical monuments. For others, they don authentic Samurai armor and reenact one of the most important battles in Iwakuni City history.
Five station volunteers participated in the Kuragake Castle Festival in Kuga, Iwakuni City, Nov. 18, 2012. Marines wearing Samurai armor marched through the Kuga streets during a parade and reenacted a dramatic scene which took place in Kuga during the 16th century. The volunteers first dressed in armor, learned about the battle and practiced lines for the reenactment. After group photos and final preparations were made, the Samurai started their march to the town square.
“I wanted to partake in the parade because of my love of Japan and the essence of the samurai spirit,” said Lance Cpl. J. Gage Karwick, station combat correspondent. “Since I was a kid, I always felt a sense of yearning for the warrior spirit, which in turn, is why I joined the Marine Corps.”
The event symbolized the last gathering held by the Kuga Samurai before going to battle against an enemy much larger than their own. Facing defeat and a certain death, the Samurai urged their castle lord to allow them to go into battle and make their last stand in honor.
For many in attendance, this was a way to reflect on local history and honor the warrior spirit of the Samurai. For the Marines, this was a once in a lifetime experience to be a part of Japanese history.
“Being a Samurai for the day, I felt a strong attachment to the Japanese culture and Japanese people,” said Karwick. “The best part was after the event when we walked around the fairgrounds in armor. People came up to me saying how great it was to see an American dressed as a Samurai and taking part in a Japanese ceremony. They were honored that I showed genuine interest in their culture and society.”
When the day was over, it was time for the Marines to turn in their swords and regalia. The Samurai weapons and armor may be gone, but the memories and lessons learned by the Marines will last forever.