TOKYO – The Japan Self-Defense Forces’ annual marching band festival was held at the famed Nippon Budokan concert hall in Tokyo Nov. 16 and 17. The event drew a total audience of over 40,000 during its six two-hour performances over a two-day period. This year marked the 48th time the festival has taken place since its inception in 1963.
U.S. Army Japan Band has been invited as a special guest to perform at the festival every year past 32 years, but this year was a little different. This year that soldier musicians from four different bands within U.S. Army Pacific performed together. Members from 9th Army Band in Alaska, 8th Army Band in Korea and the 25th Infantry Division Band in Hawaii joined the U.S. Army Japan Band to form a 67-member marching band, dubbed the U.S. Army Pacific Band.
The U.S. Army Pacific Band performed “Rolling in the deep” and “Malagueha” during the event along with several pieces together with the other Japan Self Force Bands and the 3rd Marine Corps Band. “It is such an exciting time because none of us speak Japanese and none of them speak English but we all are playing the same music. And you can tell that it is the same feeling and it is same emotion and we are working to create the same atmosphere,” said Spc. Cameron Blackhurst, the 296th Army Band.
After their fourth performance, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison, commander of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) met with the band to congratulate them on a job well done. As he departed the general remarked to the members from the Alaska, Hawaii, and Korea, “This is something we want to do again next year, so plan on coming back.”