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 23 After another bus trip, we arrived at around 2 a.m. at our Takasaki hotel. It was awesome. We each had our own rooms. After a night of rest, we had breakfast at the hotel. We then departed around 10 a.m. to Hamagawa in uniform. At 11 a.m. we were scheduled for a clinic. The kids were surrounding the school when we got there. We could see their anticipation on their faces. After the clinic, many of the kids literally chased us down for autographs. We felt like we were celebrities. We then had lunch. It was great.

Members of the Cavaliers head back to the airport.
Fellow members Eric Brinkman, Barry Janicula, Andy Acheson and I went to random tables of Japanese girls to eat with them. It was fun because we were all just having fun eating and testing out our Japanese language skills on them. We then had another clinic at 1:30 p.m. This time for our part of the clinic, the guard went outside and taught the kids several parts of our show. Color guard is awesome in that you don't really need to talk to show choreography. The kids really enjoyed learning the different phrases of work that we do. After the clinic and run-through, the corps had a hard time leaving the school. The kids were surrounding us by the masses. They were doing anything they could to get autographs and souvenirs. We headed back to the hotel to clean up and get ready for a reception with the mayor of Takasaki. We went to the reception at 7 p.m. and had some incredible food. It was all catered and superb to say the least. The mayor of Takasaki then arrived and gave a speech. It was so great to have everybody dressed up in that kind of atmosphere. The Mayor then presented us with Japanese bandanas that we all put on. We looked like we were all in "The Karate Kid." After the reception, we all headed back to the hotel for a night of rest.

October 24 Again, we had breakfast and departed around 8:45 a.m. for our rehearsal at Jonan Ballpark. This was the site for the day's Takasaki Marching Festival. The rehearsal went really well. We then changed into uniform and headed to our warmup destination for the parade that we were going to be in. It was an excellent atmosphere when the corps was warming up. There were bands everywhere. There were so many people there. We lined up and started the parade. People were lined up all over the streets. The end of the parade was at the ballpark. When we got there we were hydrated and had a little bit of down time to watch some of the other groups in the festival. It was great to see so many groups there in Japan that were doing some great things. It was then our time to take the field. The corps marched in from the very back of the field. It was very patriotic. We then performed our show. The stands were packed. We had so many great reactions from the crowd. When the festival was done, all the groups took the field. All the performers then played "Furosato," which was conducted by Cavalier drum major Chris Lugo. After the festival, I met with Yoshihiro and Nobumitsu. They were both color guard members that I had marched with in 2001 and 2002. It was so great to see them. I was immediately reminded of all the great memories that we had shared. After saying good-byes, the corps traveled to Gunma Music Center for an evening concert hall performance. After a light meal, the corps had a rehearsal with the ALSOK Vivace Marching Band. The girls were so nice and polite. We then changed and were ready for our 6:30 p.m. concert. The hall was again was filled with so many people. After our performance, we then had a meal that was prepared for us in one of the adjacent rooms. The Japanese people were so accommodating for us that it really made me feel appreciative. We then went back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep before our early 5 a.m. departure to the Narita airport. October 25 It was rough waking up at 5 a.m. Luckily after getting everything loaded, we were all able to crash out on the bus to the airport. We arrived there around 9 a.m. Some members decided to exchange their currency back to American. We went through security and were at the gate for our 11:15 a.m. departure to Chicago. The great thing about the flight was that it was only around 10 hours. Everybody ate, slept, watched movies, played games, and talked on the flight. Finally we arrived in Chicago around 8:35 a.m. It was great to be back. We said good-bye to our fellow brothers and all dispersed on our ways home. My flight departed at around 11 a.m. I slept the whole way and was back home around 2 p.m. I was tired the next few days, but caught back to my normal pace in no time. I then packed for my move to Portland to start my WGI season with Northern Lights. The Japan trip was great and certainly will provide me lots of great memories that I will never forget.