By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Aug. 9, 2016) – Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka Public Affairs Office supported Yokosuka City’s culture promotion department by conducting a Yokosuka Naval Base tour which included a trip through facilities at Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC), Aug. 9, 2016.
The purpose of the tour was to familiarize Yokosuka’s newly appointed elementary and junior high school teachers with the base’s cultural and historical heritage.
Eighty-six educators toured the SRF dry docks, former Imperial Japan Yokosuka Naval District headquarters buildings – currently used by Commander, U.S Naval Forces Japan (CNFJ) and FLEACT Yokosuka – and traveled on a bus tour of the other base facilities.
“There are some teachers who are not from Yokosuka or Kanagawa prefecture for that matter,” said Chief Clerk Mitsuharu Matsuda, from Yokosuka City’s culture promotion department. “By knowing about the modern heritage within Yokosuka city and directly experiencing Yokosuka Iron Work’s dry docks with their 150-year history, the educators can use this information in the classroom where they teach Yokosuka’s distinct history and culture.”
According to Matsuda, students in 3rd grade in elementary school and the first two grades of junior high school take integrated study classes where teachers can use this experience to teach about Yokosuka’s local history, culture and geography. For that purpose the schools have published several leaflets to introduce such topics as Yokosuka Iron Works and its founding fathers like French naval engineer Francois Leonce Verny and a Tokugawa Shogunate’s financial magistrate, Kozukenosuke Oguri.
Tour participants visited CNFJ and FLEACT Yokosuka headquarters buildings, building C1 and C2, the original headquarters of Japan’s Yokosuka Naval District for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Teachers saw historical pictures of leadership going back to the age of Imperial Japanese Navy through the present U.S. Navy and a tour guide from Yokosuka Educational Research Institute explained about architectural artifacts and their historical significance.
“This is the headquarters for the U.S. Navy in Japan,” said Kazuyuki Takagi, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs Office staffer. “You can see the colors [flags] over there. The colors of the U.N.. That means this facility functions as the U.N. Forces headquarters in time of emergency.”
Secondly they visited SRF dry docks starting from dry dock 1 then traveling to dry dock 2 and 3.
“I once visited Yokosuka Naval base to see cherry blossoms here,” said Kaname Sasaki, a teacher from Tsurukubo Elementary School, Yokosuka, who teaches in 3rd grade class. “But this is a completely different experience. Everything I saw taught something about history of Yokosuka.”
“I am originally from Kobe City,” said Shota Fukuda who will teach 4th graders at Yokosuka’s Nagai Elementary school. “I am not familiar with things in Yokosuka, this experience has been very rewarding. I would like to share this with my students and learn about Yokosuka together.”
“It is amazing,” said Sho Yamashita, a teacher who teaches 2nd year students at Nagai Junior High School. “Visiting here is very valuable to me. I am originally from Fukuoka, and this helps me learn more about the local community and its history. The fact Yokosuka Naval base’s history goes back more than 70 years is enormously interesting.”
Later they boarded a bus and traveled around Yokosuka’s Naval Facilities, including dry dock 4, 5 and 6.