Friday, March 29, 2013

Yokosuka Spring Festival 2013

The Boy eating his hot dog.
A couple weeks ago we saw a notice for the Spring Festival and decided right away that we would attend.  Well, then the sequestration became a big issue, and we waited to see if the Festival would make the (long) list of base-sponsored events that would be cut.  Luckily, they kept this one alive!!  So, last Sunday we quickly changed after church and got in the car to drive to Mikasa Park (a Japanese park just outside the gate, from what we could see from across the water, we knew it had water fountains and a ship museum).  Well, we drove toward the front gate, only to find the road closed.  So, we turned around to go a different direction and found that road closed as well.  As we drove back to the apartment we saw tons of food vendors set up near the Commissary/NEX and realized that this was an event that the base opened up to the local community.  So, we laced up our walking shoes and headed back out.  My goodness!  I was amazed at all the people!  The CFAY website has a great picture of one of the main roads near the base shopping area that is packed with people, sidewalk to sidewalk!  Our first stop:  FOOD!  The kids both had hot dogs, Kris had a chicken kabob (I think), and I had a shrimp kabob.  It was yummy, not at all warm anymore, but still yummy. We noticed that most of the Japanese visitors were carrying the same boxes....Anthony's Pizza and Dunkin Donuts.
Four pizzas and a box of donuts

Cherry trees lining the road near the food court and commissary.
After lunch we made our way to the Japanese side (away from the awful music blaring from huge speakers on the American side).  The walk wasn't too bad.  They opened up a gate that is usually locked on the east side of the base, so we could make a short walk to the park.

Our path was from this point (just next to the picture taken above), then we followed this rail off to the right, walked across the area with the cherry trees (in front of the five story building int he background) and then all the way to the far left of the picture.
Once at the other side, we checked out the fountains first.  And, let the kids climb the hills.  Then, we stood and watched the mass of Japanese people in line to get onto the base.  I'd say there were thousands in line.  They stretched from the checkpoint before the gate, zigzagged for about a quarter mile, then stretched back out of the park and down the street!  It was insane!
The zig zagging line

Looking from on top of the ship, towards the checkpoint

Past the fountains, toward the checkpoint

Continuing from the zig zags, out of the park, and down the street.

Okay, so after the fountains, we boarded the ship, Mikasa.  This ship is now a museum on dry ground.  I wasn't able to get too much of the history because the kids were so excited to run around the ship.  They tested guns and cannons, they climbed up the stairs, climbed down stairs, sent a message via morse code, made waves in the kids' area.  So, we had to move quickly from station to station, no time to read any explanations.  The one time I tried to read three sentences, I turned around and my family had disappeared.  I spent the next 5 minutes searching, then headed up toward the exit and waited another 10 minutes for them to reappear.

Mikasa.  According to the internet, this is a pre-dreadnought (these replaced the ironclad ships) battleship, built by, and in, the UK for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the 1890s.  This ship served in the Russo-Japanese War in the early 1900s.  It survived several hits in three battles, but none too serious.  Then, a week after the end of the war, a magazine exploded and the ship sank.  It was salvaged and repaired, then in 1922 it was decommissioned  as part of the Washington Naval Treaty.  It is the last of the pre-dreadnought ships in the world.

Kris showing Garytt how to tap out a G.  He didn't follow directions too well the next picture was a blur of him rapid-fire tapping while laughing.

Mackenzie tapping out her M.  She did a good job.
preparing to fire a shot!

Heading up!  When we walked by the crow's nest (I think that's what it's called) Garytt asked if he could climb all the way to the top.  Uh...NO!

That's the base across the water

There was an awesome theater on the ship.


Bedroom, with a teeny tiny bed
After our tour of the ship we headed back to the base.  We did NOT go the short route, along with the thousands of people.  We walked through town to the base gate.  Along the way we were able to see pretty flowers and water fountains.  And, we stopped and bought some kind of yummy chicken to share. 

Garytt:  Mommy, take a picture by these flowers to show Grandma.

A few feet behind me there is a sign that says "No climbing on rocks".  Garytt pointed that out to the kid whose mother was letting him climb. 

The sun came out during our last bit of walking.

This is actually on the base.

Chicken.  I think a sweet sesame chicken sausage.

This is the road leading to our apartment tower - the one just behind the trees.
It was a fun day.  It would have been nice to have some sort of flyer to tell us what time the events took place, because we noticed the next day that there was a Japanese drum show and we heard there were other Japanese cultural shows.  Oh well, next year!  Our plan is to head back to Kamakura this weekend, as long as the rain stays away.  I think this is the last weekend we will be able to see the cherry trees.  On our walk yesterday the trees "snowed" on us.  The kids (and I) thought that was pretty cool!  They sure are beautiful to look at.  If I could get some deeper blue skies around here they would make for some amazing pictures.