Marking 25th anniversary, Edmonds to welcome Sister City delegation on Oct. 29

During the Edmonds delegation's visit to Hekinan in April this year, Mayor Earling and the other visitors were treated to a cultural fair that included traditional Japanese music and dress. Look for similar performances at the cultural fair on Ocober 30 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.  The event is free and open to the public.
During the Edmonds delegation’s visit to Hekinan in April this year, Mayor Earling and the other visitors were treated to a cultural fair that included traditional Japanese music and dress. Look for similar performances at the cultural fair on Ocober 30 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

Break out the kimonos and brush up on those Japanese phrases!

The Sister City delegation from Hekinan, Japan arrives in Edmonds next Tuesday for the latest in the ongoing series of visits and cultural exchanges that have marked our sister city relationship for the past quarter century.

Since its 1988 inception, more than 1,000 people have traveled between the two cities. In addition to speeches, events and tours, visits are always marked by a wide array of small, informal interactions that foster cross-cultural understandings and help cement the special sister city bond. Much of this happens as delegates walk the streets and visit local businesses, cafes and restaurants, where they often meet and converse with local citizens.

In autumn 2004, a delegation of 25 Hekinan artists, residents, and officials visited Edmonds to dedicate the "Friendship Tree" located on the Edmonds waterfront promenade between the Senior Center and Brackett's Landing South. Together with the "Crane" placed in Hekinan in 1998 by the Edmonds Sister City and Arts Commissions, these works by Steve Jensen are among the most visible symbols representing the relationships between these two cities.
In autumn 2004, a delegation of 25 Hekinan artists, residents, and officials visited Edmonds to dedicate the “Friendship Tree” located on the Edmonds waterfront promenade between the Senior Center and Brackett’s Landing South. Together with the “Crane” placed in Hekinan in 1998 by the Edmonds Sister City and Arts Commissions, these works by Steve Jensen are among the most visible symbols representing the relationships between these two cities.

The 37 Japanese visitors comprising the Hekinan delegation land in Edmonds next Tuesday, Oct. 29. They will be in town until Nov. 4. Many will stay in private homes, sharing meals and conversation with host families as they gain first-hand experience of typical American family life. While the delegates have a packed schedule, time has been built in for walking around town and meeting the local Edmonds community.

The Edmonds Sister City Commission, a group of 12 citizen volunteers, has been planning this visit for months. The commission has highlighted several events as great opportunities to meet and interact with our visitors (follow the links on the commission page for more information, or check the Sister City Commission’s Facebook page here):

• Hear the Mayor’s Proclamation honoring the 25th Anniversary of the Sister City relationship between Edmonds and Hekinan, Japan, at the City Council meeting 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

• Watch performances of traditional Japanese dances by Hekinan visitors (at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and the Edmonds Olympic Ballet (at 12:30 p.m.) at the Sister City Community Cultural Fair, Edmonds Center for the Arts, on Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to noon. You can see the videotaped rehearsal one of the dances here and another performance rehearsal here.

• Listen to taiko drums, Japanese flute, a shamisen stringed instrument and other folk instruments at the Cultural Fair at the Edmonds Center for the Arts, on October 30th from 10 a.m. You can see the rehearsals in Hekinan here and here. Listen the traditional street art of story-telling, called “Rakugo,” during the afternoon performance.

• Sing along with the Hekinan performers at the end of the Cultural Fair at the Edmonds Center for the Arts on Oct. 30. You can see a video of them practicing the song, “Flowers in Bloom,” in Hekinan here.

• Wear a Japanese kimono and have your photo taken in the lobby of the Edmonds Center for the Arts during the Cultural Fair, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Enjoy tea tasting and crafts at traditional Japanese tea tasting and crafts-making booths with our Japanese visitors in the lobby of the Edmonds Center for the Arts during the Cultural Fair, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• View the photography exhibit by award-winning Hekinan photographer, Kiyotaka Sugiura in the lobby of the Edmonds Center for the Arts during the Cultural Fair.

• Get Japanese candy and see the Japanese scarecrowat the Hekinan Halloween Booth in front of City Hall during the Edmonds Halloween festivities from 5 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31.

• Also on Halloween, dance with our Japanese visitors in the “Thriller” Flash Mob during the Edmonds Halloween festivities by the Cedar Dreams Fountain at 5th and Main.

“You just can’t underestimate the value of this kind of cross-cultural exchange,” said Michelle van Tassell, who has been on the Commission since 2011. “The delegates bring home memories and new understandings, and spread these among friends and associates. It just builds on itself, and we’re all better citizens for it.”

Van Tassell suggests that when you see our visitors, smile and extend a personal greeting with a handshake, and a warm hello (“konichiwa” in Japanese if you prefer!). “Know that it will be appreciated, valued and remembered,” she said.

— By Larry Vogel

 

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