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Airman exemplifies base's Japan Day

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNEWS) -- An Airman here recently received a cultural experience few Japanese are even afforded the opportunity to enjoy.

Airman 1st Class Song Lee entranced the crowd at the opening ceremony of Misawa Air Base's 20th Annual Japan Day wearing a Junihitoe (which means 12-layer robe), an elegant imperial kimono.

The style of kimono dates back to the 10th century, and is seen today in museums and movies. Usually it's only worn by the Japanese imperial household for important events such as royal weddings and enthronement ceremonies.

"I feel really flattered and honored to be able to have this experience to reflect Japanese culture," said Airman Lee, who works with the 610th Air Control Flight at Misawa AB. "I never knew that it took so much detail and precision in kimono dressing, so I do have more respect in the concept of kimono dressing."

Japan Day coordinators wanted to find a 20-year old American volunteer to keep with the festival's 20th anniversary theme. Airman Lee had always wanted to wear a kimono and was eager to fill the role.

"Whoever hasn't experienced this yet, it's a must. I feel like I'm one of those geishas!" she said.

At $100,000 and weighing nearly 50 pounds for the whole outfit, few will want to wear it. But now an Airman has had the chance to wear one.