KYOTO, Japan (Nov. 7, 2012) -- With Orient Shield 12 winding down, Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, along with their Japan Ground Self Defense Force counterparts, participated in a historical tour of the ancient city of Kyoto, during the first of two culture days.

"We are very thankful for this opportunity to go see a place that we haven't been to," said Pfc. Sam Merzoug from Falls Church, Va., a medic with Company A, 1-14th Infantry. "A lot of these guys haven't been to Japan so they were really excited. I think what our command did here was great for the Soldiers. It definitely boosted the morale."

Defense Force Members were excited to have the opportunity to share their culture with Soldiers. For many Soldiers it was a distinct break from the normal.

"It's a good time for Soldiers because the Japanese culture is very different from the USA," said Sgt. 1st Class Kiyome Yoshida, from Nagoya, Japan, visual information specialist with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. "I hope they had a good time."

Soldiers rode busses from the Aibano Training Area to Kyoto on three separate day trips, Nov. 4-6. While in Kyoto they were given the opportunity to explore Heian Shrine and Kiyomizu Temple as well as the shops and restaurants among the scenic winding streets of Kyoto.

"I love the way they dress and their architecture," said Merzoug. "Parts of it reminded me of New York City except that it was in a traditional setting. The food was great. The fashion was great. Everything was great."

The Japanese people left an impression on the Soldiers visiting Kyoto.

"They are very respectful people," said Merzoug. "You can tell it's a very old culture; very different from ours."

The day will be an unforgettable day for many involved.

"I hope they can see the heart of Japan," said Yoshida. "Japanese are kind people. I hope the U.S. Army would see our hearts."