Hosting the Sister City 40th Anniversary Commemorative Delegation of Christchurch Citizens
On March 7th,1973 the cities of Kurashiki and Christchurch formed the first sister city relationship between Japan and New Zealand and this year, 2013, welcomed their 40th anniversary.
In commemoration of 40 years, a delegation of Christchurch citizens and the first Student Goodwill Ambassador group in the 2 years since the Christchurch earthquake, visited Kurashiki. There was an official welcome, a dedication ceremony for a commemorative monument, a commemorative ceremony, celebratory banquet, soccer friendship match, city tour, and various other commemorative events and citizen exchanges through which we looked back of the history of exchange between the two cities and renewed and strengthened the bonds of friendship between us.
The 35 member citizens delegation (including a soccer group and pottery group), 14 member student group, and 2 student leaders made for a total of 51 visitors lead by the Christchurch Kurashiki Sister City Committee chairman Mr. David Bolam Smith Q.S.M. They each enjoyed seven days in Kurashiki from October 11th to October 17th, with the students staying on a further seven days until the 24th. Many in the group mixed their own plans into the official program.
Their program in Kurashiki was greatly assisted by the efforts of the Kurashiki Christchurch Association and many other Kurashiki Citizens.
Official Welcome (October 11th)
The group received an official welcome at Kurashiki City Hall. Mayor Ito, Chairman Bolam-Smith, and Council Chairman Mr. Matsuura spoke for the advancement of bonds between the cities. Our guests each received a Kurashiki-made and personalized sailcloth bag. After the welcome the student ambassadors were handed over to their host families to begin their homestay experience.
Tree planting and Dedication of the Sister City 40th Anniversary Commemorative Monument (October 12th)
A tree planting and dedication of the Sister City 40th Anniversary Commemorative Monument was held in the “Friendship Square” on the north side of the Kurashiki Art and Culture Hall. Mr. Mark Sinclair, New Zealand Ambassador to Japan was in attendance. Trees were planted to complete the commemorative monument with the hope for the advancement of friendly relations between the two cities, the quick recovery of Christchurch from the Christchurch earthquake, and North East Japan from the Tohoku disaster.
Sister City 40th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony and Banquet
A Sister City 40th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony and Banquet were held at the Kurashiki Kokusai Hotel. A total of 105 persons attended the event including the Christchurch Citizens Delegation, Ambassador Sinclair, and representatives from Kurashiki City Hall, Kurashiki City Council, the Kurashiki International Association, the Kurashiki Christchurch Association and other related persons. Friendships were deepened and we looked back on the history of exchange between the two cities.
Sister City 40th Anniversary Commemorative Soccer Friendship Match
(October 13th – 14th)
From Christchurch, The Prebbleton Soccer Team; and from Kurashiki, the Kurashiki City Hall Soccer Team, The Kurashiki Seniors’ Team, and the Kawasaki Medical University Old Boys Team participated at the Healthpia Footsal courts on October 13th. Participants were divided into 6 teams (Yellows, Blues, Pinks, Greens, Oranges, and Others) to play 6-aside. Superb play from all sides made for great games and a fervent match.
The victory went to the Oranges by penalty kickoff. After the match, the team enjoyed an ice skating show and after-function to complete a full day of rigorous activity and laughter.
Day 2 was held at Kurashiki Fukuda park on October 14th. The same teams participated as the previous day: from Christchurch, The Prebbleton Soccer Team; and from Kurashiki, The Kurashiki City Hall Soccer Team, The Kurashiki Seniors’ Team, and The Kawasaki Medical University Old Boys Team. This was a friendly tournament-style competition including pennant exchanges and a kick-target contest. An enjoyable day was had by all, including the Christchurch supporters.
The competition was won by the Kurashiki City Hall Soccer Club after a fierce day of competition which would make any spectator wonder whether the player had forgotten they were in a “friendly” match. The Prebbleton soccer team left the field vowing to return for a rematch in five years time. Thanks to players from both cities, volunteer translators, and the many others involved, the two days were a wonderful exchange worthy of the 40th Anniversary. We take this opportunity to express our thanks to all involved.
City Tour, Experiences and Exchanges.
1: Tour and visits.
During their stay the group saw the beauty of Kurashiki’s historic area, and also some of the tradition and local industry here. In the Bikan Area they did punting along the river, visited the Ohara Art Museum and Morita Distillery.
On December 15th, the citizens delegation joined the student group to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima.
2 Hands-on and Exchanges.
The citizens delegation joined a number of Kurashiki citizens including the Kurashiki Christchurch Association for various exchanges and experiences including ikebana, a music exchange with members of the Tsurajima Junior High School koto club, grape picking, candle making, and kimono wearing. The pottery members were able to forge relationships and make a number of pieces with the kind cooperation of kilns in the Hashima-yaki, Sakazu-yaki, and Bizen-yaki styles. We look forward to seeing these when they have been fired.
Departure from Kurashiki
Through the official welcome; monument dedication ceremony and tree planting; commemorative ceremony and celebratory banquet; soccer friendship match; pottery exchange; and all the other citizen to citizen exchanges, all the members of the citizens delegation departed Kurashiki having created and shared fond memories with Kurashiki citizens in celebrating this milestone of 40 years of sister city relations.