III MEF Band impresses at Budokan
TOKYO, Japan -- The Japan Ground, Air and Maritime Self-Defense Force Bands performed with the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band and U.S. Army Pacific Band during the 2012 Japan Self-Defense Force Marching Band Festival at the Nippon Budokan Arena here Nov. 17.
Thousands watched the bands perform together at the two-day festival following hours of practice earlier in the week. Their harmonious product was a symphonic display of their friendship, unity and mastery of the art of music.
"We appreciated the opportunity to combine with the Japan Self-Defense Force and U.S. Army bands and perform in front of thousands of spectators," said Chief Warrant Officer Stephen B. Giove, the officer in charge of the III MEF Band.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Marvin Cardo, the commander of the U.S. Army Japan Band, agreed that the festival was a unique chance for his soldiers to step onto a big stage with the other bands.
"This event is truly a special one," said Cardo. "There is a huge amount of teamwork that goes into something like this, and it showcases the great working relationship we have with the Japanese.
In addition to the military bands, there were numerous other performances during the festival, including demonstrations from London 2012 Summer Olympic Games medalists and JGSDF members Capt. Hitomi Obara, 1st Lt. Shinichi Yumoto and 2nd Lt. Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, who competed in wresting, and 2nd Lt. Satoshi Shimizu, who competed in boxing.
"I think that this festival is an amazing thing," said Yonemitsu. "I feel that there is a great deal of harmony between the U.S. and Japanese musicians."
This year's festival was the 46th since the inaugural event in 1963. This year, the theme revolved around peace, progress and harmony.
"In Japanese, the word ‘harmony' has many different meanings," said Warrant Officer Shigeru Fukuda, the stage manager with the JGSDF Central Band. "During this festival, it represents strength to show how far we have come since the Tomodachi disaster."
Throughout the two-day festival, Brig. Gen. Craig Q. Timberlake, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III MEF, and Gen. Eiji Kimizuka, the JGSDF chief of staff, made appearances to show their support for the festival as well as to see the unique performances.
"An event such as this festival can only have a positive influence on the Japanese people," said Fukuda. "They get to not only see the JSDF bands, but also the U.S. Marine (Corps) and Army bands, which gives a positive influence to the relationship between the U.S. and Japan."
The III MEF Band rehearsed throughout the week prior to the festival to make sure they were in sync with the other bands during their performance, according to Giove.
"The Marines performed magnificently," said Giove. "This festival gave us a chance to show who we really are and how much pride we take in our job."