By Randall Baucom, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMay 5, 2016
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (May 4, 2015) - Camp Zama Soldiers and Airmen participated in Niconico Chokaigi 2016 April 29-30 at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, Japan.
Niconico is Japan's largest online video-sharing service with more than 53 million registered users, according to its website, and hosts the chokaigi, or super-convention, annually to bring its video sharing website to life by featuring 11 exhibit halls and a sports arena.
This year's super-convention, which included a variety of vendors, brought more than 152,000 attendees and was streamed live to over 5.5 million viewers over the internet, according to Niconico's website.
"This is the fourth time U.S. Army Japan has participated in this event, and this year we went a step further by inviting members of the U.S. Air Force stationed at Camp Zama to participate," said Capt. Christopher Telley, lead coordinator assigned to USARJ.
Telley said USARJ Soldiers set up an information booth next to the Japan Self-Defense Force and passed out information about Camp Zama while interacting with convention attendees.
"It was nice to be able to show our partnership with the Japanese Self Defense Force and engage directly with the Japanese people," said Telley.
The U.S. Army Japan Band played several performances throughout the convention center, such as marching in a parade; opening the day's events; entertaining the attendees while they waited in line; and concert styled on-stage performances broadcasted "Live" over the Internet.
"This is the second year in a row that I have participated in the Niconico Chokaigi, and I really enjoy coming out here," said Sgt. 1st Class John Line, Brass Band team leader assigned to USARJ Band.
"Every year the Niconico people have involved us in more and more different events, and it really allows us to get out and meet face-to-face with a group of Japanese people that we would not normally meet," said Line.
"I was surprised by the number and different types of booths that were set up, and the costumes being worn by the cosplay attendees," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Peter McCurry, assigned to 374th Communications Squadron.
"You can tell some of them (cosplay attendees) spent a lot of time and money putting their costumes together," he said.
Telley said the Camp Zama Soldiers and Airmen engaged with hundreds of convention attendees over the two-day event.
"It is important that we take these opportunities to engage with ordinary Japanese citizens and provide them the opportunity to get to know us on a one-on-one basis. It makes us a better partner with the Japan-Self Defense Force, and it strengthens the alliance as a whole."