Blue Devils Japan 2002 Diaries
Japan Trip Itinerary and Information
History of Marching In Okayama
We arrived in Osaka Kansai Airport about 20 minutes early. Then through immigrations which took about 30 minutes. United Airlines had all the large equipment off the plane waiting for us. All went really smooth going customs. In fact the customs agents just waved us through. Allan Murray,Vice President of Dynasty USA, Mr. Sadao Yokota, President of Dynasty Japan and our translator were all waiting for us. Our three Japanese members also met us at the airport to join us for our Japanese tour.
Mike Shuldes, SopranoI flew in from Denver and transferred into the International Airport at SFO. San Francisco was beautiful and crowded I had never been in the International Airport. Before I knew it we had boarded a 747 the biggest flying machine known to man. I didn’t know quite what to think but it was exciting none the less. I was very excited to be traveling to a foreign country and as I write this I can’t imagine what it will be like to actually be there. In any case I only hope for the best on this trip and we will return safely to our families and friends.
Cheryl Rauth, SopranoWe were supposed to be at the airport at 9:30 AM to have a meeting, so naturally I was early. Getting anxious and worried because I couldn’t see a friendly face. As I see Pete and Gail drive up in the “cheeseball”, I was relieved everything would go off without a hitch.
Getting checked in was easy enough, little stress, but it was getting closer to our time to board. Every moment was getting a little more exciting. The take-off was shaky but still great. I had my friends around me. It couldn’t have been a nicer beginning to a fabulous trip.
Dave Craft, SopranoGoing to be a great trip. I am sitting next to nice people. John Benson siting behind me smells kind of funny but it’s all right. I am probably the only Blue Devil that isn’t housed right now. I know, I suck. I plan to catch up as soon as I get some work done – Cheryl Rauth is hot. Oops, sorry, it slipped! I am a little worried about eating sushi for a week. We just ate lunch and it was weird. It was some kind of clear stringy stuff with some chopped up stuff next to it. Oh, yea, it was all cold also. Hey, at least we can say that we tried it, right? I am excited to be in this place and to see all these old friends again. I don’t look forward to the day we all go our separate ways again. We don’t need to worry about that now. We have nothing but fun planned for the next 9 days.
Austin Nielsen, EuphoniumThe exciting Japan adventure has begun and as for myself, things couldn’t be better. Waking up at 6:00 AM and driving to the airport wasn’t easy but the excitement kept me going. Upon arrival at SFO I had plenty of time to eat and sort things out, and now that we are on the very long plane ride the stress of leaving has subsided. Looks like it’s going to be a great trip.
Emi Iwasawa, Euphonium“The Day” is here. I was anxiously waited today since Pete announced that I’m part of Japan Trip. I set my alarm clock at 5:30am, then unlock my suitcase to double-check my belongings. As soon as I got to SFO, I ran to gate 100. It’s going to be an incredible tour. Now I got to memorize music … hahaha.
Jose R. RinconThe day is finally here. The way that I can express myself with words now is a warm rush that’s going through my body, the feeling of experiencing something strange and rare. I know that when I set foot on this land I am going to be surprised and bewildered. I am in for a great experience. I can’t wait to experience the Japanese life style and culture. PS, I feel like Bernal Diaz del Castillo when he encountered Meso America.. Article “will for form” Octavio P92, 1990.
Jon Burroughs, SnareWell, I’m sitting in my seat right between 2 people, listening to Japanese hip-hop music, eating beef jerkey, and sipping on a $3.75 bottle of water that I got at the airport. Were half way there and I want to scream.. But this is an experience in its own. Plus I had to wait in line for 10 minutes to use the bathroom. Feels like tour again!!
Leslie Nigg, ColorguardI clearly remember saying on August 10th 2002 that this would be the last time I perform with the Blue Devils, the last time I’d spin a Sabre, and the last time I would sweat so much. BUT, here I am, on a plane with the Blue Devils, ready to spin again in 80% humidity. I also CANNOT wait! The only thing I’m worried about now is the size my ankles will be after this long flight! EEK! Hopefully my extremely tight shoes and the support socks that are up to my knees will help me out. I’m ready for a culture shock!
Jake Everett, SopranoWell, here I am on this big ole’ jet airliner going back to my Roots. Yeah, that’s right, my roots. I spent the first 5 years of my life in Okinawa, Japan. My folks were in the Air Force and we were stationed at Kadena Air Force Base. I know we will not be any where near the Island of Okinawa, but I am very excided to get there. The only memories I have from back in the day were very happy ones, and I am sure I will take back with me even better ones from this trip!
The group left the Okayama Castle and went to have lunch at a German Restaurant. Then, off to rehearsal for the rest of the day and evening. Dinner was again a wonderful Japanese meal. Rehearsal ended at 9:00 PM and everyone returned to the hotel for a quick soak in the Japanese bath and to bed.
Then off to a rehearsal block to finish learning the entire 2002 show with 40 members and in a square from. Rehearsal ended at 5:00 and we went back to the hotel for dinner. The corps had the night off to visit the center of Okayama and relax for the evening.
Then back on the buss and off to Takashima Middle School for a short rehearsal to finish the field show. At 12:30 the PTA invited the members to lunch. The Principal and President of the PTA spoke to us and then we all enjoyed a home cooked lunch made especially for us by the moms from the PTA. After lunch the students of Takashima Middle School conducted a question and answer session with the BD members. And then the Takashima Middle School Marching Band took the field to play for us. This was followed a dance ensemble and the concert band performance. Then it was our turn. The audience of students were seated in a big square so the horn and drum line warmed up to each side. At the end of the warm up Steve took the horn line and surrounded the band to do the final F tuning. This was really exciting for the band. And then we played the 2002 show for the entire student body. After the performance the students rushed to the members and staff for autographs and pictures. It was really difficult to get the members back to rehearsal mode as they were surrounded by the Japanese students. But we finally got back to rehearsal and finished the show. Many of the students stayed and waited for us to leave for one last final good-bye and autographs and photos. The PTA provided ice cream for all of us. So off we went to the hotel for dinner and nice Japanese bath.
That evening the members and staff were taken to sight see at Tiboli Park (amusement park) and to see the Seto Bridges in Okayama.
I was amazed at the talent level of the grammar and middle school bands. The high school kids played like a professional orchestra. Just unbelievable!!
Bill Kilian, Tuba
The kids are incredibly intelligent at such a young age and so respectful. Just watching these young students play their instruments gives me so much respect for the Japanese culture It showed me how very good the Japanese system school is.
We then returned to the hotel to get ready for another Welcome Dinner and Reception. The reception was given in honor of the Blue Devils and the DCI Judges. Many Okayama City officials and Festival Committee members were in attendance. After several short speeches and an official toast we all enjoyed a tremendous Japanese buffet. We were entertained by DCI Percussion Judge Allan Christiansen. He played the accordion for us. All the BD members clapped and sang along with him. Thanks Allan!!
Our Japanese members, Emi, Kumiko,Koto, and Saki surprised us all when they arrived dressed in beautiful Japanese formal Kimonos attire. Thanks ladies for making our evening so very special!!
We stopped for a short lunch and prepared for 2 stand still performances and a 1-mile parade. The group bussed to a small gym where everyone dressed and warmed up. Then off to our first performance. Each group participating in the parade did the 2 stand still performances in the center of Okayama and then proceeded to the parade route. It was amazing to have so many Japanese fans following us from place to place screaming and yelling for us and of course waiting for photo and autographs opportunities. The parade was short YEH! And all the members had small American Flag stickers (thanks Miramont Uniforms) on their uniforms and of course we carried the very tall American flag through the entire parade route. It was really a beautiful and proud moment to see our flag flying tall through the streets of Yokayama.
Our last stand still performance was in a covered shopping mall. It was really loud but the shoppers and audience just loved us. There was a Hugh crowd at this performance. Then back to the theatre for 2 hours off for dinner and a little more shopping.
The theatre show began at 6:00PM. The line to get in the theatre was more than two blocks long. So there was a nice audience and a great theatre. There were several groups that performed before us. We also set up our souvenir booth in the theatre lobby. And the DCI American judges joined the audience in the theatre. It was great to have them all there. Thanks to all of you for coming.
Then back to our dressing room to change and go back to the hotel to have some time off and much needed rest. It took a long time to get out of the theatre as our fans found the back stage door. So more photos and lots of autographs. And of course lots of screaming Japanese girls. Many of the members stood on a balcony outside their dressing room and tossed souvenirs to our Japanese fans.
“The stage performance was so much fun. I felt like a rock star.”
Dan Wahl, Bass Drummer
It was hard to believe our last day had arrived. Eight exciting days had passed by so quickly. Today was a big day for us-2 field show performances and a stand still performance. We left for the Urayasu Sogo Bunka Arena at 8:00 AM for a short rehearsal and Opening Ceremonies. Color Guard members Clint and Leslie participated in the Opening Ceremonies. They proudly carried our American flag straight down the center of the arena. It was really a grand sight.
After a short rehearsal the members dressed in uniform and our first marching field show took place. It was only 9:30 AM and the arena was packed. Al Murray,Vice President of Dynasty told me he had never seen so many people so early in the morning in the arena. The performance was really enjoyed by the audience. Of course when the members attempted to leave the arena floor, fans rushed the members for autographs. They quickly changed out of their uniforms and joined their fans for autographs and photos. Each member had a bag filled with Blue Devils souvenirs (key chains, pens, bumper stickers, buttons, etc) to give to their fans. Our next performance was not until 12:30 PM so we had a nice break for lunch and visiting. Our Souvenir booth was upstairs in the arena so many of the members gathered there for more autographs and photos. Thanks again to Sally and crew for taking charge of the souvenir booth. You all were great!
Our next performance was presented to all three sides of the arena. This time one tune was played to each side so all the entire audience could see us. It was great to have 3 more tunes besides the 2002 show. There were eight drum & bugle corps competing and many bands, color guards, and baton groups in exhibition. The talent level of these groups was suburb. The Japanese kids are really talented.
Our last performance was at 3:30 PM so again the members had a nice break to visit with all their Japanese fans. The last performance was again the 2002 show. It’s really difficult to explain the response we received from the audience. There aren’t enough words to explain it all. Maybe one-FABULOUS AND VERY GRACOIUS!!! The audience stood on their feet asking for an encore. So that called for “When a Man Loves a Woman” The corps took the floor again and the horn line began to play and the color began to dance. The drum line went from one side of the arena to the other encouraging the audience to clap with the corps. WOW it was crazy and then the drum line through all their drumsticks into the audience – one by one. By this time the audience was really going crazy. The corps finally left the floor, at least tried to leave as their fans crowded the exit door all trying to take pictures and attempting to get autographs. We finally got into the dressing room as our fans anxiously waited outside the door.
Then a rewards ceremony took place. The horn line participated while the drum line and color guard began to pack up the equipment to go home. We had 10 wonderful Japanese Army guys that took care of all of the equipment for us. We greatly appreciate all of their hard work. After the retreat color guard members Jessica and Clint helped me present gifts to the event sponsors and special guests.
We left the arena about 5:30 PM and returned to the hotel to pack and get ready for our Farewell Party at 8:00 at a great German Restaurant nearby the hotel. Pete and I presented gifts to our major sponsors and hosts – Mr. Sadao Yokota President of Dynasty Japan and Akira Kamei City of Okayama Councilor and founder of the Festival. We gave them both on behalf of The Blue Devils a music box from San Francisco, a BD polo shirt, 2002 CD, label pin, and a color-autographed picture of the members. They were both very excited about their gifts. We also gave little gifts to our 4 wonderful translators, our guide, and the many others that helped for the 8 wonderful days.
Thank you to the 38 Blue Devils Japan Cast. You were wonderful, and a fine example that represented the Blue Devils, the Drum Corps Activity and American youth. You all worked hard and as a result our wonderful Japanese fans loved you. Thank you to the staff-Pete Emmons, Shirley Dorritee. Steve Bentley, and Gail Schultz. It was a real team effort!! And lastly thanks to Al Murray, Vice President of Dynasty USA, Mr. Sadao Yokota, President of Dynasty Japan, and Mr. Akira Kamei, City of Okayama for making this marvelous trip possible. And many thanks to David Gibbs, Executive Director of The Blue Devils for his vision of International Travel for BD members.
Promotion & Development Director
The Blue Devils