USNHO Triad and distinguished visitors press the button to light the tree. Photo by Isaac Savitz

USNHO Triad and distinguished visitors press the button to light the tree. Photo by Isaac Savitz ()

Okinawa, Japan Friday night, U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa (USNHO) held its annual Tree Lighting Celebration to commemorate the many different holiday traditions that are observed around the world here at Camp Foster, a U.S. base in Okinawa, Japan.

We refer to Okinawa as our "Host Nation" and strive to be good ambassadors of the U.S. This relationship is essential. USNHO was very honored to have the Mayor of Ginowan, Masanori Matsugawa, and the ambassador in charge of Okinawan Affairs, and representative of the Government of Japan, Manabu Miyagawa, attend the tree lighting. Kubasaki High School Choir sang carols, and our associations provided food, games, and entertainment for all in attendance.

In a region where it would be easy to see the many differences in how the Japanese do things compared to Americans, these differences are so important. They help us further understand each other's cultures and appreciate the diversity that makes our partnership so meaningful. Okinawa is a special place that is steeped in a rich culture unique only to Okinawa. One does not have to go far to see vibrant, colorful linens and ceremonial outfits. The boom boom boom of a deep Eisa drum dares you not to at least tap a foot along to the beat or not feel the emotion from the high-pitched sad wailings of the Eisa Gals at the end of the procession.

These opportunities for shared culture are so important and necessary in creating a solid partnership between two great nations out here on this tiny island of Okinawa, Japan. Happy holidays and a wonderful New Year from everyone at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa!

The U.S. Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Okinawa (USNMRTCO) supports the Defense Health Agency’s U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa (USNHO) as the largest OCONUS Navy Medicine medical treatment facility and stands t ready to respond to contingency operations to support the INDOPACOM region. It is a critical regional asset for direct care delivery, regional referrals, and medical contingency operations. The staff of USNHO understands their vital role as pre-positioned, forward-deployed naval forces within the first island chain, aligned and in support of the joint military commands and operations.

The best stories from the Pacific, in your inbox

Sign up for our weekly newsletter of articles from Japan, Korea, Guam, and Okinawa with travel tips, restaurant reviews, recipes, community and event news, and more.

Sign Up Now