Honda's float reunites Japan earthquake survivors with U.S. first responders

(December 28, 2014) Honda's 2015 Rose Parade float entry, Building Dreams of Friendship, will lead the 126th Rose Parade celebrating the friendship shared by the United States and Japan through the TOMODACHI Initiative, and pays tribute to the resilience of the people of Tohoku, Japan. 

The float also seeks to highlight the ongoing reconstruction effort in the regions affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011, and pays tribute to the role played by the United States military in the humanitarian response.  Themed "Inspiring Stories," the Rose Parade takes place Thursday.

Born out of the relief effort following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011, the TOMODACHI Initiative (TOMODACHI is Japanese for "friend") was created by the United States and Japan to strengthen the bonds of friendship and leadership for future generations of Japanese and American youth. As
part of this initiative, Honda will bring 20 high school students from Tohoku, one of the regions most impacted by the 2011 disaster, to participate in the Rose Parade with Honda's float and perform a special song composed for the Parade by six-time Grammy Award winner Daniel Ho.

While in the United States for two weeks, the students will participate in several cultural activities and programs. The students will perform at a Japanese American museum and other cultural centers, participate in a project with Honda Associates to assemble disaster relief kits for the American Red Cross, conduct a home-stay visit with Honda Associate families and community members, and meet with a group of their peers at a high school in Torrance, Calif.

The Tohoku students, many of whom were directly impacted by the twin disasters, will be joined on the float by several additional special guests, including representatives from four branches of the United States military who were among the first to arrive in the region to provide humanitarian aid and support following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

"The story of the people of the affected regions of Japan, as well as the United States servicemen and servicewomen who helped them following the earthquake and tsunami, is truly inspiring," said Steve Morikawa, Assistant Vice President, American Honda Corporate Community Relations. "Honda is proud to celebrate the friendship of our two countries and recognize the United States military for its role in the relief effort."

Each section of the float includes iconic imagery, including the Statue of Liberty and a torii, or traditional Japanese gate, and the flags of the two nations. Each side is highlighted by flowers emblematic of the two nations, such as the rose, the national flower of the United States, and the sakura, or cherry blossom, of Japan.

The cherry blossom represented on the float is the kokunodate cherry blossom of Tohoku, and is one of many regional elements represented. Other touches include Tohoku cherries, rice ready for harvest, Tanabata Festival decorations, and a tuna, which represents the importance of fishing to the Tohoku community.  All of the regional elements featured on the float were suggested by the students.

To symbolize the bond between the two nations, two sections of the float are joined by a bridge adorned with 10 video screens broadcasting messages to the crowd along the Parade route. Elements of the float will be decorated by the students in the days leading up to the Parade.

For the fifth straight year, Honda's float will be propelled by a specially configured hybrid, low-emission engine designed to help the float function more efficiently. The Tournament's theme banner float will also be Honda-powered.

2015 marks the 54th year Honda has collaborated with the Tournament of Roses and its fifth year as presenting sponsor. The all-new 2015 Acura TLX sports sedan will be the Parade's official pace car, and the redesigned 2015 Honda CR-V will serve as the sound car. In an expansion of Honda's relationship with the Tournament of Roses, the company will partner with the Tournament on the Parade's opening show for the first time.