Tedako walk promotes healthy lifestyle, friendship
URASOE CITY, Okinawa, Japan -- The rumble of drums and the excited cheers of children echoed as local residents readied themselves by stretching and conducting warm-up exercises, marking the beginning of the Urasoe City tedako walk.
The two-day event takes place annually in early February, using courses of varying distances. The first course starts at Urasoe Athletic Park and continues past many historic and cultural sites, giving participants the chance to enjoy local scenery while practicing a healthy lifestyle.
“This walk gives the citizens of Urasoe the motivation they need to live a healthy life,” said Mitsuo Gima, the mayor of Urasoe City. “Not only does it give them this motivation, but also the opportunity to visit cultural and historical sites.”
Col. John E. Kasperski, the Camp Kinser commander and commanding officer of Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, accompanied Gima during the opening day of the walk.
“This is one of the many events I like to attend out in town each year, especially because of the large number of Marines and local residents who participate,” said Kasperski. “This shows the Marines who attend that there is so much more to the Okinawa culture than what they see while traveling between bases.”
The walk allowed both Gima and Kasperski to speak about similarities between the U.S. and Okinawa while strengthening the relationship between Urasoe City and Camp Kinser. Kasperski opened the gates of Camp Kinser for one course in support of the tedako walk.
“This was a great opportunity for both of us,” said Kasperski. “I can tell just from walking and talking with him that Mayor Gima has a warm relationship with his people and those of us on Camp Kinser.”
Participants stopped along the way to take in cultural sites. One of the most popular spots was the Urasoe Castle Garden with its scenic island view.
“I thought this walk was a great experience and that more people should participate,” said Cpl. Leo Murray, a motor vehicle operator with CLR-37. “Had I not participated, I would never have gotten to enjoy Okinawa like this. I got to see some new places I otherwise would have never known existed.”
The tedako walk not only gave participants the chance to promote a healthy lifestyle, but also served the purpose of further developing the relationship between Urasoe City and Camp Kinser by helping participants widen their cultural views, according to Gima.
“This walk shows the closeness of the friendship between the city and Camp Kinser, as well as strengthens the ties between us,” said Gima. “We are not simply good neighbors, we are family.”