Pepe Ochoa, 2004 guard captain of the Cavaliers, agreed to write a journal-style account of the Cavaliers' recent trip to Japan. By Pepe Ochoa October 19 Everyone is very excited for the trip to Japan. We were not very excited about waking up around 5:30 a.m. We loaded the buses to head to the airport. When we got there we got our tickets from the ticket agents at Japan Air Lines. After we checked in our luggage, we then went to the currency exchange. It was pretty exciting to have Japanese currency in our hands. We then had breakfast and went through security for our 11:50 a.m. departure. Check out a Cavaliers in Japan photo gallery. October 20 The flight was long! A 13-hour flight certainly takes its patience on a person. The airplane was great. We each had TV monitors. We were able to catch up on several movies that we have or haven't seen. After getting an initial taste the type of food we would be eating from the flight attendants, and tons of sleep, we arrived in Narita, Japan at 2:55 p.m. We were then supposed to have a connecting flight to Nagoya at 6:15 p.m. However, we flew right into a tsunami that was taking over the airport. Our flight was cancelled and we were then to be transported by bus to Nagoya. After a long bus ride, we arrived at the Aimachi marching band compound around 6 a.m. Aimachi was very generous in welcoming us in the early morning by showing admiration for our arrival. We were then split up into rooms with seven members put in each. We started to get accustomed to the current customs of taking off your shoes when entering a building.

The Cavaliers are mobbed by kids outside a school in Japan.
October 21 We had slept for a few hours on our backs before being woken up. We were then taken to a Japanese bathing facility. It was interesting to take showers sitting down. The greatest thing was the hot pool that you relax in after the shower, certainly a custom that I could get used to. We were then scheduled to have a lunch at the Westin that was located next to Nagoya Castle. It was beautiful. There were so many choices to select from for food. Ryan Valencia, another member, and I strong developed a taste for the shrimp. We tried everything that we could and started to develop tastes for things that were liked or disliked. We then headed to the Inae Sports Center. We had a rehearsal before our first performance that evening. It was great. The Nagoya Women's High School field drill performed for us. They were simply incredible.
Their discipline is unmatched. They certainly impressed us for the age that they were. We had a snack from the Japanese McDonald's -- it was good to have some familiar food in our stomachs. The concert then started around 6 p.m. Nagoya Women's High School performed, follow by a clinic from sections of our corps. After our clinic, the audience was entitled to a performance from Aimachi. They were great. Their show used the music of Niagara Falls. It was very interesting to see the way they used the music. The Aimachi guard was great, simply a treat to say the least. We then took the floor. The performance was good, for the first one on this tour. It was great to have an audience that completely surrounded us. After our performance, we had a combined performance of "Semper Fi" with the groups that had performed. The Cavaliers gave the audience an emotional performance of "Nessun Dorma" and "Over the Rainbow." We were then presented with gifts from each of the groups. After the concert, we were told the names of the Nagoya Women's high school families that we would each be spending the night with. I was nervous about staying with people that I had never met before, and did not know if I would be able to have a conversation with. I met my family and was excited for the drive home. The mother's name was Azul. Her daughters name was Marino. Japanese cars are incredible. Their technology surely surpasses ours. The computer screens and capabilities amazed me. I was fortunate for my host mom to speak quite a bit of English. They took me to Denny's to have dinner with other members and their host families. It was great having other members there. It was not a traditional Denny's – it was Japanese style. Luckily they helped me choose something that I would like. After dinner we went home. It was a beautiful three-story house. My room was on the first level. I took a quick shower from a very interesting day and went quickly to bed.

October 22 In the morning, I woke up to a simple breakfast and then was taken to the Nagoya Women's High School to meet the rest of the corps. Everyone was so excited. All the members were talking about the experiences that they had. We then boarded busses to head to Shizuoka. On the way we had lunch. It was a complete sushi lunch. There were so many selections of sushi. Some made us question what the contents were. Some members went for it and tried all they could. Others were more cautious and tried only what they convinced themselves to. We then finished our bus ride and arrived in the Shizuoka Granship Hall. We then put our belongings in the dressing rooms and prepared for rehearsal. The hall was incredible. It was one of the most beautiful concert halls that I have ever been in my life. The colors and atmosphere were unmatched. After the rehearsal, we prepared for the concert, which started at 7 p.m. with the same format as the night before. However, this time we shared the hall with the Hamamatsu Wild winds. After the performance, we were then mobbed by quite a bit of fans. We were so bewildered that we had no idea what to do. After finally getting away from the "paparazzi" we then began our travel to Takasaki by bus to our hotel stay. Read part 2