Service members marched onto the parade field. Dec. 6, for the opening ceremony of Yama Sakura 63. Yama Sakura is a bilateral training exercise held twice a year with members of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the U.S. military. Yama Sakura began 30 years ago. It is designed to enhance the combat readiness and interoperability between the two nations. The two countries, while quite different in culture and language, exchange ideas, tactics, techniques and military experiences during the exercise, now on its 31st iteration.