CATC CAMP FUJI, Japan --
As food sizzled on the grill, music played, and friendly competition loomed on the horizon, it was evident that camaraderie was in the air.
Marines with Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji invited Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members with Fuji Schools to participate in a fall social Sept. 29.
Activities throughout the day included a three-legged race, tug-of-war, soccer and softball, and finished with a barbecued meal that provided an opportunity for everyone to interact.
"The intent of the fall social was to build and maintain junior-enlisted relations between Camp Fuji Marines and Japanese service members," said Sgt. Maj. Rodolfo G. Sarino, the sergeant major of CATC Camp Fuji. "We wanted to foster the U.S. and Japanese friendship by pairing Marines and (JGSDF) in these events so as not to have competition between the two. The Marines did quite well making friends with the Japanese, working through both cultural and language barriers in the team events."
There are many Japanese garrisons close to Camp Fuji, and often times the service members share training sites. But when they're not training, Marines at Camp Fuji conduct many different community relations events.
"During the event, I saw Marines and Japanese service members working hard to bridge the language barrier by teaching basic words to each other," said Lance Cpl. Alissa J. Anderson, a motor vehicle operator with CATC Camp Fuji. "When it was chow time, the Marines and Japanese service members sat together and explained to each other how the chow works at their bases and the similarities and differences between their services."
Marines at CATC Camp Fuji have previously visited orphanages and planted and harvested rice to help build a relationship with their neighbors in the surrounding community, according to Anderson. All of the events help Marines better understand the Japanese culture while building better relationships between the two services.
"These events are not only very important in keeping good relations, but they are also a fun way to exchange each other's culture and gain knowledge in each other's military services," said Anderson. "I believe these events are fun, and I enjoy participating when I have the opportunity."