Sunday, October 18, 2009

Misawa Air Fest '09

Today Corey and I went to the annual Misawa Air Base air show. Once a year, the base's gates are opened to everyone in Japan and flying demonstrations are put on by US AF/Navy & Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) pilots. Huge numbers of people descend upon the little town of Misawa. Seriously, there were THRONGS of people here today (apparently around 250,000) from all over Japan. We live about 3 miles from base (usually a 5-10 minute drive), and it took us just about an HOUR to get there today, even with taking all the secret back roads. Fields were converted into parking lots all over town with shuttles running to and from the base. It was basically a gigantic madhouse of people.
Thousands of people on the flightline waiting to watch the Thunderbirds

The flying was cool enough. Stunts, formations, you know the drill. What Corey and I were there to see were the thousands of Japanese people excitedly taking advantage of being able to get their hands on all the American culinary delicacies so rarely available to them- namely the fast food restaurants on base, the plain Duncan Hines box-cakes that we Americans volunteer to bake by the hundreds to sell, and Anthony's Pizza (I've never had it, but it looks to me like the least appetizing pizza one could imagine). We had heard the stories of lines miles long and folks walking around with stacks of pizza boxes to take home with them. The day did not disappoint. Apparently the Japanese, in general, really do love cheap American grub. We couldn't count the number of people toting around arm-fulls of pizzas like this man below, or the masses waiting for their turn to order a Whopper at Burger King in the following pic:
The event also attracted a bajillion amateur photographers who had the most giant camera lenses I've ever seen. One guy had what I originally thought was a portable chair until he picked it up and I realized it was a camera sitting on top of its lens. Hundreds of cameras like the one below reached up to the sky like telescopes trying to get good shots of the planes.
I guess they're pretty hardcore about their photography out here.

Fun day!


Peter and Stephanie said...

yah I think I saw that dude and his enormous camera there...that thing probably cost a few thousand dollars!!!
great photos of the show =)
I felt so bad for all of those people near the end of the show when it started pouring down rain on everyone...some of them had to walk for miles back to their car in it!

margaret said...

Love your recent posts, Patty. Great to see and hear of all you're doing. What an interesting day you had watching the folks at the air show! Good luck with Japanese!