By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Thirty-three Sailors from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) attended a wreath exchange and mochi-pounding ceremony aboard the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) First Escort Flotilla flagship Hyuga-class helicopter destroyer JDS Hyuga (DDH181), Dec. 20.
The ceremony included an exchange of holiday ornaments, a traditional Japanese mochi-tsuki event, a Daruma doll eye-painting event and live music by the Hyuga band.
“When Sailors come out here, it is to get exposed to a new culture,” said Capt. Kenneth Strong, George Washington’s executive officer. “This event was a wonderful opportunity for our Sailors to be exposed to our host country’s culture here in Japan.”
Prosperity and good fortune set the atmosphere aboard Hyuga during the ceremony.
“This ceremony has become an annual event since 2009,” said Cmdr. Kisuke Tanoue, Hyuga’s executive officer and air boss. “It is very important that we share our culture with George Washington. With our success of working together at sea, it is nice to have this event on shore.”
Many George Washington Sailors in attendance exclaimed their pleasure of the opportunity to pound mochi, paint the daruma doll in the traditional way and enjoy the food and hospitality of the Hyuga crew.
“I’m very thankful for the culture and hospitality of our host nation,” said Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) 3rd Class Joel Guadarrama, from Moreno Valley, Calif. “Being a Sailor, I have seen a lot of places and have seen many different cultures. Japan has been by far the best I’ve seen and experienced. I am very thankful that I have this opportunity.”