Friendship Day

Today is the day they will open their base to our community, the economy, as they call it, and will allow us to enter without restrictions.

It is the day they will hold their own version our Obon, our summer festival where we honor our ancestors. They will wear our yukata and our happi and will cook for us our yakitori and our takoyaki. They will play recorded versions of our traditional music over their loudspeakers and will attempt our traditional dances. We will try not to smile too broadly when we tell them how nice they look in our clothes and how well they perform our dances.

Today they will sell us their beer and their pizza. We will forego the yakitori and takoyaki and will, instead, buy as many cases of their beer and as many boxes of their pizza as we can. We will then drink too much and eat too much while we sit on our blankets in a tree-covered park next to their small marina and their large McDonalds; or, perhaps it is our McDonalds since we will see that only our people are employed there.

Today, though, is especially the day they will give us tours on their ships. We will crowd into their buses and we will wait in long lines until we are divided up into small groups and escorted throughout their ships by their sailors in white hats. Mostly, we will want to tour their aircraft carrier. That is where our lines and our wait will be the longest. And when we finally reach the flight deck, we will take deep breaths of the salty air and we will look out across the expanse of the bay and we will try not to wonder why they are still here.


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