TIETON, Wash. - Service members from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force enjoyed a taste of Americana a short drive away from Yakima Training Center, Saturday, in the nearby town of Tieton.

The Kesselring family opened their home to three noncommissioned officers from 12th Regiment, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. JGSDF Sgts. Yogo Zukeyama, Takuya Homura and Yoshiyuki Nakahama visited the family in conjunction with Rising Thunder, a part of Pacific Pathways, which is designed to increase interoperability between partner nations and to experience some American culture.

The Kesselrings have been a host family for several years. "Our children look forward to [these visits] every year," Raquel said. "They learn a lot from it - learning new ways to communicate without talking. Sometimes they'll forget about us and they'll be on the floor playing with the kids for hours."

Jason and Raquel's youngest son, Cameron, couldn't wait to share his Pokemon collection with the group. The four excitedly flipped through his binder smiling and pointing at some of the rare cards before Jason brought everyone back outside.

Jason, an ATV instructor and police officer on YTC, pulled out his 4-wheelers for the group to ride around his property before dinner. The three received a quick how-to about the operation of the vehicles then donned helmets and went for a spin.

Dinner included such fare as smoked brisket, pumpkin ravioli and baked beans followed by a chocolate cake and pudding dessert made by the Kesselring's oldest daughter, Ashley. Plates were piled high with the delicious choices and, based on the clean plates, thoroughly enjoyed.

Before concluding their visit everyone exchanged emails and Facebook information.

"When they leave we're all very sad," Raquel said. "The children, they cry and ask 'Dad, can we go to the base to visit the Japanese before they go?'"