In May, the city of Victoria welcomed delegation from Morioka, Japan to celebrate 30 year anniversary of the twin city agreement. In case you didn’t know, cities of Morioka and Victoria became sister cities back in 1985, thanks to the connection of  Dr. Inazo Nitobe, who was an agricultural economist, author and educator from Morioka. Dr. Nitobe has passed away at Royal Jubilee Hospital in 1933 during his visit to Canada. Dr. Nitobe is well known in Japan as a pioneer and a leader, and his portrait was once featured in 5,000 yen bank notes.

I had a privilege to meet the people from Morioka back in March 2014, when they came to thank us for the support for 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It was wonderful to see some of the familiar faces again this time.

Their visit coincided with the Victoria Day long weekend, and a group from Morioka participated in the parade and performed Sansa Dance, which is their traditional folk dance. After the parade, there was the official renewal of the twinning at the city hall. Mayor Lisa Helps and several other city councillors welcomed the delegation, and the city of Victoria presented the city of Morioka with an artwork by local artist, Barbara Weaver-Bosson.

There also was a reception hosted by the city. It was great to see Misaki Usuzawa, a young singer who herself was affected by the earthquake and tsunami, again and hear her beautiful voice. We were also honoured to have Consul General Okada from Vancouver. What was particularly memorable to me was Mayor Helps’ speech, now that she met all the people from Morioka, she understands the importance of twin cities, and learning from each other.

The following day, there was a ceremony to reveal the Bell of Friendship, a gift from Morioka at Centennial Park. The Bell was disgned in Morioka, but the stand was designed by former Mayor Alan Lowe. He said he was thinking of the “Bridge across the Pacific”, like Dr. Nitobe’s famous quote.

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I feel privileged to be a part of this great friendship. My sincere thank you goes to the city staff who tirelessly organized all the celebrations, and the generosity of people of Morioka. I hope to visit the beautiful city myself one day.