HEAVY Medal III – Japan’s Golden Week

With cooler temperatures replacing the hot and humid tropical conditions experienced over the past few days, Armed Forces Entertainment HEAVY Medal III team enjoyed a day with US Army troopers of the Akizuki/83rd Ordinance Battalion in Kure, Japan.

It was only appropriate in the Land of the Rising Sun that the Sean Colgan and Robi Powers met the morning sun with the squad for physical training. After a series of vigorous calisthenics, the squad headed out the main gate for a quick 4 mile run through the streets of this seaside community.

“What a great way to spend our first full day in Japan,” said Colgan. “These young men and women are so enthusiastic, doing a fantastic job and so excited to share their base with us.”

In addition to the normal daily duties on the base, seven troopers on the same night that the Olympians arrived actually returned from Northern Japan and the continued relief work associated with the earthquake and tsunami.

After meeting Battalion Commander Lt. Colonel Hooper and Command Sergeant Major Williamson, the HEAVY Medal team joined MWR Manager Dave Ricks, 83rd OD BN Boss President Amy Sok, and Army Chaplin ‘Ed’ for a tour of Kure (pronounced koo-re). This week, Kure and all of Japan is celebrating Golden Week, a collection of four national holidays (Showa Day, Constitution Day, Greenery Day and Children's Day) within seven days.

Located in the southwest of the Hiroshima prefecture, Kure faces the Inland Sea. It is the home base of the largest battleship ever built, the Yamato and one of the bases of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is located here. So, of course, the first stop of the day was a visit to the Yamato Museum. Inside this massive waterfront building, you immediately learn of the importance of this ship, ship manufacturing, peace, Kure life as well as can get up close to numerous large displays and interactive exhibits, including the centerpiece 1/10th size battleship replica.

Flowers dot every part of this municipality as the group explored for hours the intertwining side streets of shops and quant markets the line the Kure River. The flora was even more amazing this week as the abundant azaleas, which are in full bloom, provided the perfect photo opportunity for flower lovers.

Mild temperatures hovered in the 60s throughout the day making walking conditions for the final trek back to base simply priceless. As the group climbed the final hill, the IHI Kure shipyard burst into full view unveiling huge cranes and numerous dry docks with ships in various state of assembly. The view from the overlook stretched well beyond the shipyard, encompassing nearly 300-degree views of the landscape of this seaport valley.

Golden Week, traditionally spanning seven days, or what was dubbed in our case, Golden Day, was truly golden in every way for this HEAVY Medal team today in Kure, Japan.

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