News: The brass side of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces
Story by Pfc. David Walters
IWAKUNI, Japan - Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force service members stand on a rooftop with the sun beating down. They raise bugles to their lips and prepare to play a song instructed by their conductor as pores on their faces form beads of sweat, which roll down and follow the contour lines of their facial features.
A bugle is an instrument in the brass family and has no valves or pitch-altering device. It requires the person playing it to use only their mouth and breath control to create notes.
The bugle is an instrument historically used to relay instructions from officers to troops in the cavalry. Now, it is used throughout several militaries as an instrument for ceremonies and funerals.
“The bugles take an important role in memorial services,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Takuya Izumi, JMSDF conductor and bugle player. “They are used to signify distinguished visitors and in ceremonies.”
According to Izumi, the bugle’s highly-significant role in the JMSDF is the reason why it is such an important aspect of training for the three military occupational specialties and is important that experienced players pass down knowledge on how to play the instrument correctly.
Training standards require that all Japan Self-Defense Force service members from color guard, motor transportation and ground rescue units learn to play the bugle, in addition to their primary MOS.
Bugle training for JSDF service members is continuous as it is a skill that not only has history in their military but a tradition viewed as a privilege to those who get to play in ceremonies, said Izumi.
“It’s important we practice once or twice a week, for about an hour and during our free time,” said Seaman Natsuki Nishio, JMSDF bugle player. “I do get nervous and anxious when I play in front of guests at ceremonies as a member of the Bugle Corps, but I really enjoy our accomplishment after we have performed well.”
As bugles remain an important part among JSDF, they train throughout the year in order to uphold the traditions of their ancestors.