The Kure Port Festival, one of the biggest annual outdoor public events in Kure City, Japan, successfully took place on April 29th, 2023, after four years. The event was graced by the presence of U.S. Army units local and from Camp Zama. Despite the persistent rainy weather, crowds of people eagerly waited for the festival’s return and lined the streets. This year’s festival was the first full-scale staging of the event in four years, after two cancellations and one downsized version due to COVID-19.
The 66th annual staging of the event was kicked off by the U.S. Army Japan Band, along with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Band, who performed live music together. This was the third time that Sgt. 1st Class Harrison Reed, a trombonist assigned to the USARJ Band, had performed in Kure. Reed expressed his excitement and gratitude to perform live music for the audience and see the town come alive again. Despite the rain, he was surprised to see the number of people that showed up and how receptive the audience was. For Reed, the event was particularly significant because the city of Hiroshima is steeped in history, both pre- and post-World War II. As an American and a guest in the city, being able to perform there meant a lot to him.
Reed appreciated the opportunity to perform with the JMSDF members and acknowledged their skills as good musicians. He stated that it is great to work with allies and to be able to cooperate with them as a form of diplomacy and outreach to communities. This was the last time Reed will perform in Japan, and he expressed that getting to play for such enthusiastic audiences in the last four years had been amazing. Reflecting on his time in Kure, Reed stated that he is going to leave his heart in Kure.
Festival-goer Yoshie Kawamura expressed her gratitude for being able to witness the U.S. Army and JMSDF bands performing together. She was impressed by the natural and harmonious collaboration and personally welcomed the Army’s presence in her city. She hopes that Kure will continue to offer more bilateral events like this in the future. Kure City Mayor Yoshiake Shinhara, who attended the event, thanked both bands for their collaborative performance. He acknowledged that their performance helped to energize and bring joy to the city’s attendees as the festival kicked off.
Members of U.S. Army Garrison Japan and the 10th Regional Support Group at the nearby Kure Pier 6 installation joined the festivities with a concession booth selling American-style food and refreshments like hot dogs, nachos, and sodas.
News source : USA army website