The USARJ Band boasts a proud history of service which spans more than six decades. It was constituted in the Regular Army on January 13, 1941, as the Band, 96th Coast Artillery. On April 24, 1941, the unit was activated at Camp Davis, North Carolina, and redesignated as the 296th Army Band on December 12, 1943.
During the Second World War the unit was reorganized and redesignated on December 12, 1943, and were known as the 296th Army Ground Forces Band. They also are credited with participation in the Western Pacific Campaign. On June 1, 1947, the band was redesignated the 296th Army Band and on March 1, 1948, was inactivated in Japan.
On March 7, 1955, the 296th Army Band was activated at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Since moving to Japan the band was granted the official designation of “United States Army Japan Band,” but retains it numeric 296th Army Band designation.
The USARJ Band regularly performs a variety of music for military, bilateral and public relations functions for the Japanese public as well as the American community in Japan. Each year the band performs for a total audience in excess of three million people. Past performances have included the Japan Self-Defense Forces Marching Festival at Tokyo Budokan, Kanagawa Music Festival, Kure Port Festival, Sendai Tanabata Festival, Sapporo Snow Festival and Camp Zama's Bon Odori, Cherry Blossom and Independence Day Celebrations.
The USARJ Band's forty Army Musicians make up eight different ensembles. The Concert Band performs a wide variety of music to include marches, Broadway hits, pop, classical and Japanese music. The Ceremonial Band performs for bilateral events and military ceremonies throughout Japan. Other performing groups include Uncle Sam's All-American Brass Band, Pacific Brass, Fuji Winds, Kanto Jazz, Samurai of Rock, and Sabor K-liente.
The USARJ Band's versatility comes from the diverse backgrounds, education and experience of its members, many of which hold college degrees or were music educators or freelance musicians before enlisting in the Army.
While enjoying its rich history and proud heritage of service, the USARJ Band looks forward to a bright future of continued musical service in Japan.