Patriot Abroad

Patriot Abroad

patriot abroad

Aaron Pylinski | Community Writer
It’s hard to satiate the savage urges of Americans when it comes to celebrating our independence from the British crown. We stood shoulder to shoulder with our fellow compatriots 244 years ago with a gleam in our eyes and the unwavering will to win.

“The 4th of July is a tradition. It’s when we became a country and it’s important to remember that. It’s turned into a celebration where everybody comes together over the years. And it’s important for people to have those moments in life where they remember the past, make memories, and build towards the future.”
Robert "Bob" Rudolph, Special Events Manager, MCCS Iwakuni

Today we manifest that zeal in overabundant food and beverage consumption, throwing caution to the wind and not restricting our avarice for sky explosions and chest-pounding Yankee Doodle Dandy.

“Most of the time on the 4th of July, I go out to the beach and watch fireworks, have a few drinks, and hang out with friends.”
Thomas Asplund, Cpl, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12

This fantastic admiration for patriotic greatness centers around soaking up the sun, grilling out, camping, or basking in the overhead delights of rockets red glare. These are the cornerstones of a red-blooded American Fourth of July celebration.

“My ideal July 4th is going to be nice and hot. I’d spend a day at the park, relax with a nice dinner, and watch the fireworks at night.”
Isaac Mosqueda, LCpl, Marine Air Control Squadron 4

But what happens when you’re six thousand miles away from home, where you’re more concerned about yen conversion rates instead of perfecting your potato salad recipe for mom and dad’s cookout?

“Everybody in the Marine Corps is a brotherhood and a sisterhood. We are all one big family.”
John Taddeo, LCpl, Marine Air Control Squadron 4

Stay Local, Enjoy our 4th of July Block Party

Luckily for the community, MCCS has you covered with our 4th of July Block Party. Come together in fellowship with the rest of the community on July 4 at the Sakura Theater parking lot. Expect food, bounce houses and slides, train rides, carnival games, and more. Festivities begin at 2 PM.

“For the 4th of July Block Party, we’re trying to bring that small-town America feel. Provide a place for everybody to get together, have a good time, and make memories.”
Robert “Bob” Rudolph, Special Events Manager, MCCS Iwakuni

Other local events include:

  • Youth & Teen Firecracker Dance Party:

    Celebrate Independence Day early with refreshments and dancing. 
    July 3, 3 PM at the Youth & Teen Center

  • SMP Game Day & Hotdogs

    Enter tournaments for pool, ping pong, or air hockey while enjoying hotdogs. Prizes are awarded to first and second place winners from each tournament. 
    July 4, Noon - 2 PM at the Hornet's Nest

  • Flower Arrangement or Cooking Class with Cultural Adaptation
    Meet Iwakuni residents during this community exchange. Create a craft or participate in a Japanese cooking class. 
    July 6, 9 AM - 2:30 PM at the Tsuzu Elementary School

  • Independence Day Tokyo Fun Trip

    Take a six-day adventure to Tokyo with IT&T. 
    July 3-8

To Hanabi, or not to Hanabi? That is the Question

Missing the back-home barbecues and traditional American fireworks displays? Trade them in for shock and awe, Japanese-style and kushi (meat on a stick). Fourth of July doesn’t have to be star-spangled glam and glitz, the Japanese culture loves blowing stuff up, too. July in Japan is a cavalcade of aerial explosives toasting the greatness of the invention of gunpowder. If you need assistance booking travel or lodging accommodations, reach out to our IT&T staff at the crossroads. Curious about Japanese culture when it comes to hanabi? Reach out to Cultural Adaptation.   

Cultural Adaptation

Japanese fireworks - or hanabi - are widespread around the country spanning July to September. These blockbuster fireworks festivals are sure to satisfy those patriotic primal instincts coded in the American DNA.

Hokkaido Makomanai Music Fireworks Festival - Head North for music and over 22,000 fireworks set at Makomanai Park. The park was the venue for the 1972 Sapporo Olympics. There’s nothing more American than live music and loud explosions.  
July 6

Ise Shrine Dedication Fireworks Festival - Combining pyrotechnics and competition, this festival touts being one of the three biggest fireworks festivals in Japan. Buckle up for over 10,000 fireworks launching in a dazzling array on the night sky.  
July 13
Mie Prefecture

Nagoya Port Fireworks Festival - A smaller display by comparison (3,000 fireworks), this fest is set in a scenic location and attracts upwards of 370,000 people. If the crowds are too much, ditch the fireworks for Japan’s take on Red Lobster located nearby. 
July 15
Aichi Prefecture

Nagara River Chunichi Fireworks Display - This festival is hailed as the top fireworks display in the country showcasing the All-Japan Selection, a competition between pyrotechnicians from around the country. Expect daytime displays as well. 
July 27
Gifu Prefecture

Kihoku Lantern Festival - Did someone say, “Giant, exploding peacock?” At this fireworks festival, an elaborate peacock lantern is set afloat during the late afternoon. Once the sun goes down, a grandiose fireworks display known as the Saiun Kujaku - or Rainbow Peacock - lights up the evening sky.
July 27
Mie Prefecture

Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival - This particular festival is the premier event for fireworks enthusiasts in Japan. It is set in Tokyo and believed to be the oldest running fireworks display dating back to 1733. To speak to its popularity, this festival usually draws upwards of a million people. 
July 27

Minato Maizuru Chatta Festival - Kyoto is a short shin ride from Iwakuni. This two-day fest starts with a full day of dance performances called Minyo Nagashi that also includes handmade shrines on parade. On day two, prepare for a ship-borne fireworks display. 
July 27-28

Nagasaki Port Festival - Head to the southern edge of Kyushu for two days of fireworks, lasers (yep, lasers), music, and dragon boat racing. I mean, dragon boats and lasers? How could you say no?
July 27-28

Beppu Fire Sea Festival - Beppu is hell, plain and simple. Few places in Japan offer a saturation of steam and bubbling hot water quite like the jigoku of Beppu. Suffice it to say, the Beppu Fire Sea Festival is three days of open-air food, markets, dancing, music, and fireworks. Hell never looked so fun. 
Late July 
Oita Prefecture

Shirahama Fireworks Festival - What this fireworks festival lacks in volume, it more than makes up for in style. Set out a towel on Shirahama Beach and watch the night sky erupt with a Niagara Falls display that is described as a “Waterfall of fire.” That sounds like it should be a Dio song. 
Late July

American Forces Travel, Uncle Sugar’s Priceline

Want to explore more of your surroundings on the cheap? Try American Forces Travel (AFT). Book discounted flights, rental cars, vacation packages, cruises, and save up to 60% on hotels. A kiosk is conveniently located at IT&T in the Crossroads, or visit their website:

Who's Eligible:

  • All current active duty military (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard)
  • All members of the Reserve components and National Guard
  • All retired military, including those in the Reserves and National Guard who are retirement eligible
  • All Medal of Honor recipients and 100% disabled veterans
  • All Department of Defense civilians serving outside the United States, including appropriated funds (APF) employees and non-appropriated funds (NAF) employees
  • All current active duty and retired US Public Health Service (USPHS)
  • All current active duty and retired National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Full-time, paid employees of the American Red Cross and United Service Organizations (USO) hired in the United States and serving at U.S. DoD installations overseas
  • Eligible family members who are officially sponsored (ID card holder) by authorized patrons in the above categories
Whether you’re staying on the air station and enjoying the block party or jet-setting around Japan for hanabi. This year above all else, remember where we came from, where we are, and where we’re going as a country. Celebrate safely, celebrate accordingly, but most of all celebrate.