By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ramon G. Go
YOKOSUKA, Japan –Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) guided-missile destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181) shared cultural experience through holiday gift giving, Dec. 19.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier celebrated its four-year tradition by bringing and decorating a Christmas tree aboard George Washington’s sister ship. In exchange, Hyuga Sailors brought a Kadomatsu, a traditional Japanese bamboo decoration, aboard George Washington.
“Being in a foreign nation, it’s nice to share some of our traditions with them and vice versa so that we can build camaraderie and positive relationships,” said George Washington’s Command Master Chief Shaun Brahmsteadt.
George Washington and Hyuga Sailors cultural exchange is a symbol of the strong partnership between the two Indo-Asia-Pacific allies.
“I think it’s important to have a good working relationship with our host country,” said Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Dustin Dodge, from Molalla, Ore. “I think all Sailors takes every opportunity to share cultures and traditions so that we have a broader sense of purpose of who we are as ambassadors of the U.S. Navy.”
George Washington and Hyuga Sailors decorated the Christmas tree with lights, ornaments and an angel. Sailors then took part in making Japanese Mochi; two Sailors pounded wet rice into paste with a mallet, which later became a competition of who was better and faster in hitting the sticky paste.
“Pounding of the mochi was a lot of fun; the best workout I’ve done in weeks,” said Dodge. “We also got to go on a ship tour of the bridge and flight deck, and learn what our [sister] ship has to offer in the upcoming new year.”
Ensign Kyoko Yamane, assigned to the Hyuga, also agreed that it’s important to celebrate and build a stronger relationship with George Washington. Speaking with a George Washington Sailor, she stated how friendly they are and that she didn’t hesitate to talk to them.
“The American Sailors develop perspective on what it is Japanese Sailors do and how their Navy compares with our Navy,” said Brahmsteadt. “It allows us to share ideas, and really just get out and learn and experience something different in a foreign nation.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.