YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) Public Affairs Office, in conjunction with Yokosuka City’s International Division, held a cultural exchange event where 18 Sailors volunteered for an opportunity to play in a basketball tournament with Yokosuka’s Japanese community at CFAY’s Fleet Gym, Nov. 4.
According to Seiko Ogawa, Yokosuka City’s Director, International Exchange Division, an event of this type marks the fourth time it’s been held.
“We kicked off cultural exchange experience like this with Yokosuka’s naval community by a bowling event to better understand each community,” said Ogawa. “Then we had a basketball event and children’s Sports Day last year.”
Eighteen Sailors and 14 Japanese civilians made up six teams mixed with Sailors and Japanese.
“When we entered the gate, (the) scenery suddenly changed,” said Sawaka Naka from Ooura, Ibaraki Prefecture. “All the signs are written in English and I felt as if I came to the United States only by stepping inside the gate.
“I thought we would just have a fun time just playing basketball, but they are very serious about playing. They really ‘play’! They play like athletes,” said Naka. “I was astounded by their physical strength and presence that I almost cry! But, or because of that, I had more fun time.”
Chief Petty Officer Logistics Specialist Johnathan Magsanoc, assigned to the forward-deployed USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), coordinated the volunteers from the ship and said, “It strengthens and betters the relationship between the local Japanese and U.S. Navy Sailors. Hopefully we can do more of this so can mingle with other locals. It’s just fun.”
Yokosuka native Ryo Hatanaka started playing basketball at the age of 10, and he mentioned that usually he enjoys street basketball and that he joined the event since he wanted to feel and experience basketball in the U.S.
“I felt a height and physique difference, and that is a very new experience” said Hatanaka. “Yokosuka really is a cosmopolitan city of Yokosuka Naval Base. In addition to that we have than 5,500 foreign people with residential status here from more than 150 nationalities,” added Hatanaka. “I will keep playing basketball and, at the same time, I would like to continue studying English as well to better communicate with those people.”
CFAY provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of the U.S. 7th Fleet's forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands, and more than 27,000 military and civilian personnel and their families.
For more news from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, visit www.navy.mil/local/cfay/