On the evening of Thursday, October 22, Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka hosted a reception at San Antonio College to recognize American servicemen and women who have served in Japan. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, many of whom currently serve at nearby Joint Base San Antonio attended, together with members of Japan-America Society of San Antonio, staff of San Antonio City, and members of the Japan Self-Defense Force currently stationed in San Antonio.
To open the reception, event host Consul-General Nozomu Takaoka spoke about the strength of the Japan-U.S. partnership as well as the importance of maintaining this relationship through networking with American servicemen and women who have served in Japan. (link) General Edward Rice of the United States Air Force followed by speaking of his time in Japan and the remarkable connection with Japan that many service members create while stationed there. He then thanked the Consulate for offering such a wonderful opportunity to reaffirm this bond with Japan. Also during the program, JUMP, Japan U.S. Military Program, was introduced as connecting past and present service members, families, and government civilians who have served in Japan. JUMP is a collaborative effort between Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, the Embassy of Japan in the United States and the National Association of Japan-America Societies. (link)
At the end of the program, guests were treated to a performance by visiting celebrity Kumamon, the mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture and home of San Antonio's sister-city. Kumamon is an exceptionally popular yuru-chara, a Japanese term for cute mascots created to promote their hometowns.. At the reception Kumamon and Kumamon’s big sisterdemonstrated the moves to Kumamon Taiso. Guests followed along by making the top of Kumamoto Castle with their arms above their heads, and waving their arms to welcome travelers to Kumamoto. Then they all enjoyed dancing Kumamon Taiso to the music. Kumamon’s appearanceadded to the success of the reception.
After the program, guests enjoyed Texan BBQ and Japanese sake. The reception lasted over 2 hours as guests mingled, exchanged stories, and reminisced.