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Atsugi Naval Air Base

atsugi naval air base torii

A couple days a week I teach a class south of Tokyo at Atsugi Naval Air Facility. The first couple times I was there were really strange as once you enter the gate everything changes–the language, the customs, the layout, the people, the currency, everything. It’s really no different than entering a very foreign country except that you are just walking a few feet rather than getting on a plane for 10+ hours.

The torii gate, in the above picture and just inside the base, is one of the few remaining signs that you are still in a foreign country.

The answer to the quiz from a couple of days ago can be seen below. Just outside the gate for the military base are these four vending machines. The one second from the left takes U.S. Dollars and serves up U.S. goods while the other three take Japanese Yen and serve up Japanese goods.

mixture of vending machines taking yen and us dollars

Surprising, to me, is that once you leave the base (other than this one vending machine) there doesn’t seem to be any businesses trying to cater to Americans. There are no bars, brothels, souvenir shops, or other establishments in the base area that I can see that are trying to entice the military personnel to frequent them. There are no signs in English, and the area looks like any other neighborhood in Japan.

6 Responses to “Atsugi Naval Air Base”

  1. 1
    leif hagen:

    I found the vending machines to be fun, funny, amazing and different from what we see in the US!

  2. 2
    Ron Cabral:

    What about the town of Sagmi-Otsuka just a mile or so outside the base? It was nothing but bars, and a few hotels back 50 years ago – plenty of action for the base personnel.

  3. 3

    Maybe Sagami-Otsuka is where the action is, and I just haven’t seen it since I haven’t been there. By the base entrance (closer to Sagamino) there doesn’t seem to be much catering to the base personnel.

  4. 4
    Pete Simmons:

    I was based at Atsugi from 1955 to 1957 in a Navy transport squadron, and Sagami-Otsuka was the venue for more than 50 bars at that time, all catering to American sailors and marines. Of course, it was only ten years after the end of World War II and there was still a lot of destruction around, the Japanese yen was, if I recall, about 400 to the dollar, and “Made in Japan” was synonymous with ‘junk.’

    My how things have changed. On the other side of Atsugi Naval Air Station (which is bigger than a facility), was Marine Air Group 11, and most of the Marines over there went out their own gate to their own bars in Yamato I believe. Anyway, the point is that at one time Sagami-Otsuka just outside Atsugi was rife with bars and brothels all after American customers.

  5. 5
    cpl buzz whitaker,usmc,1954:

    I was at nas atsugi in 1954 with vmf 223.we had f9f panthers.I wasin fire controll(6511)I have a photo album/scrap book of my time there.I would like to here fromany marine that was there at that 231 421 1224. semper fi,and happy birthday marines

  6. 6
    C.R. Hill:

    Was stationed at NAS Atsugi in VRC-50 in 1970. We had detachments in Subic Bay,PI & DaNang. Great duty! Was no bars,etc right outside of the base. We always went to near by Sagami-Otsuka or Yamato for great times & memories. We had a Papasan in our barracks that put his three daughters through college shining shoes. He was a deaf mute & a wonderful man!!!