The Self-Defense Forces Marching Festival 2012

The SDF Marching Festival was held at the Nippon Budokan on November 16 and 17.

The SDF Marching Festival is one of the series of events to commemorate the anniversary of the SDF. Through music performances centered on drill performances by the Ground, Marine, and Air Self-Defense Forces, the event aims to provide an introduction to the diverse activities of the SDF, and to deepen public understanding toward the SDF. The Marching Festival has been held 48 times since the event was first held.

This time, approximately 1,000 personnel participated in the event. In addition to SDF personnel, the member included guest bands formed by the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) Band and the U.S. Army Pacific Band.

Last year was the 20th anniversary of international peace cooperation activities, the 40th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty, and the anniversary year of the Olympics. In conjunction with these anniversaries, performances were given by the GSDF 15th band and Eisa band formed by troops stationed in Okinawa, as well as by London Olympics medalists. A video of international peace cooperation activities was also screened.

The theme of the festival was “Harmony. Playing our dreams.” The Japanese character “Wa” represents cooperation and harmony, as well as Japan, and even the sum of things. This character, showing both dynamic and gentle at the same time, symbolizes the myriad hopes and wishes of the people.

In addition to hopes and wishes, the power of the music also expresses the desire to join hands and head toward the “dreams.”

Not only has the SDF committed such hopes and wishes to the theme of the festival; through the event, the SDF also has a strong desire to convey the stance of the forces to the people, embodied in its strength, sincerity, commitment, unity, and control.

This Marching Festival was composed of four parts, titled “The Beginning,” “Forward,” “Trials,” and “Dreams.”

“Chapter 1: The Beginning” expressed the start of all things in history through a drill performance of “Voyager” by the Middle Army Band, a drill performance of “Rolling in the Deep” by the U.S. Army Pacific Band, a performance of “Kaze ga fuiteiru (The wind is blowing)” by the Eastern and Middle Army Bands, and a dance by the flag corps of the Northeastern Army.

In “Chapter 2: Forward,” the performance expressed the journey forward, and further progress, after everything had begun in “The Beginning.” This performance was made up of a fancy drill by the honor guard of the National Defense Academy, a performance of “Rikugun bunretsu koushinkyoku (Army March)” and a drill performance of “Meisei to eikou (Fame and Glory)” by the GSDF Central Band and the 302nd military police squadron.

“Chapter 3: Trials” expresses the sounds of Japan’s “Wa” in this milestone year, symbolizing its journey through history to the present day. The GSDF 15th band performed “Dynamic Ryukyu,” while the 15th Eisa band performed an “eisa” dance. The joint bands of the Ground, Marine, and Air Self-Defense Forces played “Furusato (Home Town),” while the SDF Taiko group performed a taiko (Japanese drums) performance titled “Ran, Wa.”

After “The Beginning,” moving “Forward,” and keeping the eyes constantly toward the future despite leaving “Trials” of history behind, “Chapter 4: Dreams” represented the desire to go even further forward toward our dreams. Here, all the performing groups came together as a mass choir to perform “Niji (Rainbow).”

Over two days, a total of approximately 36,000 people came to the festival, and the live streaming on the Internet for the final performances drew approximately 46,000 hits.

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