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NEWS | Dec. 10, 2014

Japanese Navy Shares Cultural Event with US Counterparts

By Sky M. Laron Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka Corporate Communications

Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Ship Supply Depot (SSD) members came together Dec. 5 in a celebration of culture and friendship.

The celebration took place during a traditional Japanese rice-pounding ceremony, or mochitsuki, at the JMSDF naval base in nearby Taura, Japan.

The festival provided U.S. Navy guests an opportunity to participate in an important Japanese cultural event that heralds the coming of the New Year.

The "mochi-pounding" ceremony is usually an all-day community event during which mochi, a glutinous rice mixture, is kneaded and pounded until it becomes smooth and shiny and takes on a consistency somewhat like soft taffy.

The event is usually held in neighborhood parks, town squares or other social gathering locations throughout Japan around Christmas or New Year's Day.

On the day of the festival, steamed rice is placed into a rice mortar (usu) where, during the festival, one participant alternately pounds the mochi with a special mallet while another leans in to knead the mochi with their hands. The sequence demands precision as the kneading is done swiftly between mallet strikes on the wetted bed of rice.

Capt. Raymond Bichard, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka commanding officer, thanked his counterpart, SSD Commanding Officer Capt. Kiyoshi Matsura for the invitation.

"I am proud to join you in this time-honored ceremony," said Bichard. "I always look forward to the professional initiatives that sustain our long-standing bilateral partnership in logistics management, but it is ceremonies such as today's mochi-pounding ceremony that truly give me a sense of the Japanese culture and, for that, I remain profoundly thankful."

Matsura thanked his American guests for coming to the ceremony, which also celebrated the 16th anniversary of SSD.

"SSD was created 16 years ago in December 1998 and today we are responsible for provisioning 50 billion yen [approximately $422 million] worth of ship supplies to the Japanese fleet every year," said Matsura.

Matsura added that we are grateful for the special relationship that SSD shares with NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka and its many U.S. Supply Corps members.

The event brought together Sailors from two nations with one very similar mission, to support their fleets, so whether you are a logistician from Japan or the U.S., the ability to provide the mission-essential support remains the same.

As the Western Pacific region's largest U.S. Navy logistics command, the NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka enterprise networks more than 20 detachments, sites and fuel terminals from Misawa, Japan, to Sydney, Australia, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Guam.

The Sailors, Marines, Japanese Master Labor Contract, U.S. Civil Service and contract employees at NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka provide the daily logistics support to the Navy, Marine Corps, Department of Defense and other federal activity customers within the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

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