140104-N-ZB625-001 SASEBO, Japan (January 4, 2014) - Personnel from Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Mine Division Two (MINEDIV2) pose with members of Mine Countermeasures Squadron Seven (COMCMRON 7) beside their gift of two kadomatsu decorations. A yearly gift from their JMSDF counterparts in celebration of partnership, the kadomatsu are a traditional Japanese decoration for the New Year place in front of homes to welcome ancestral spirits. (U.S. Navy photo by LT Joseph S. Marinucci)
Mine Countermeasures Squadron Seven Kicks Off the New Year with a Japanese Gift 
by LT Joseph S. Marinucci, Public Affairs Officer, MCMRON 7 
SASEBO, Japan — The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Mine Division Two (MINEDIV 2) generously presented Mine Countermeasures Squadron Seven (MCMRON 7) a pair of traditional Japanese kadomatsu to ring in the New Year.
Kadomatsu, literally “gate pine,” is a traditional Japanese decoration for the New Year placed in pairs in front of homes to welcome ancestral spirits, or kami, of the harvest. Traditionally, they are placed at the entryway of a home or office after Christmas until January 7th as a temporary dwelling for the kami.
The annual presentation is a concrete example of the camaraderie and esprit de corps that exists between the American and Japanese squadrons. After countless hours of combined exercises and coordinated planning, the kadomatsu bring home the values of teamwork and trust. This year’s kadomatsu was constructed with materials collected from around the Sasebo area.
Kadomatsu are traditionally constructed of pine, bamboo, and sometimes ume tree sprigs representing longevity, prosperity, and steadfastness—all traits evident in the close relationship between the squadrons. The display is traditionally burned after January 7th to appease the kami or toshigami (deity) and release them.
“Our interactions with the JMSDF are a valuable tool to further our mutual readiness. It’s always an enriching experience,” noted LTjg Jeremy Bussell, MCMRON 7’s chief Japanese planning officer.
The ongoing relationship between MCMRON 7 and the Japanese Mine Force will be further deepened with the upcoming staff talks set to take place in February. Both sides will meet to discuss the future of their mission in the West Pacific and plan for future engagements.
MCMRON 7, commanded by Capt. Mark Truluck, is a combined readiness and tactical staff responsible for mine countermeasures in the SEVENTH Fleet area of responsibility. The squadron consists of four Avenger class minesweepers forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan and a helicopter mine countermeasures detachment in Pohang, South Korea.
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