MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Station residents celebrated the Japanese Doll Festival “Hinamatsuri,” with Yusu No Sato, a cultural outreach group based in Iwakuni City, Japan, Feb. 27, 2015.
Coordinated by the Cultural Adaption Program aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, participants helped display “hina-ningyo,” a seven-tiered stand presenting the special dolls of Hinamatsuri that celebrates young girl’s growth and happiness.
Yusu No Sato group leaders helped organize and explain the significance of hina-ningyo dolls before dressing the guests in traditional Japanese kimonos.
All participants and their daughters had an opportunity to try on the colorful, embellished kimonos with the help of the Japanese.
“Our goal is to introduce the Japanese culture in fun and exciting ways,” said Mikie Watanabe, a cultural adaption specialist aboard station. “It can be hard to adopt a new culture or new place and we try to relieve them of any worries about being a foreigner here. We have a great, unique culture with customs that go back several generations. We provide opportunities to see or experience something they never have and we are always happy to do what we can.”
At noon, everyone moved into the kitchen where the Japanese volunteers prepared ingredients to make traditional, Iwakuni sushi.
Kikuko Shinjo, a teacher with Yusu No Sato, instructed guests step-by-step on how to properly make local sushi.
Layer by layer, Japanese banana leaves, vinegared rice, lotus roots, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, sweetened ground fish, vegetables and egg were coated in a tall wooden frame used as a container to compact the ingredients inside.
Participants then used a flat wooden cover to push on the top of the frame while lifting from the outside, leaving a square of fresh, handmade, Iwakuni sushi.
“I loved making the sushi and definitely loved eating it!” said Bridgette Wood, a resident aboard MCAS Iwakuni. “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’m very grateful for and I can share all that I’ve learned and seen with my family and friends back home. I feel like this builds a stronger connection between the two different cultures and instead of isolating them.”
The Japanese Doll Festival is one of many events coordinated by the Cultural Adaption Program that aim to connect station residents to the Japanese customs and traditions.
“Im just a normal, old Japanese lady who would like to provide these guests a moment to learn about the Japanese ways,” said Shinjo. “I want to help them experience anything they would be interested in so they learn about our culture and continue to build a friendship.”
Every month, the program arranges multiple classes and trips to broaden station residents’ knowledge of Japan, such as the origami-making class, lotus root digging, culture tour of Yanai and Oobuku-Cha tea ceremony.
For more information on upcoming events, contact the Cultural Adaption Program at 253-6161.