This year our city, Hadano, Kanagawa Prefecture, is celebrating 55 years of sister-city friendship with Pasadena, Texas. Goodwill mission members from Pasadena visited Hadano last month to honor our sister-city history.
After a one-week visit, they told us that they were overwhelmed not only with the beauty of cherry blossoms in full bloom, but also the clean air, delicious water (spring water from Hadano has won numerous awards for its taste), the fantastic view of Mount Fuji, an atmosphere of peacefulness and an abundance of omotenashi (hospitality).
Some schools in Hadano have established sister-school partnerships with their counterparts in Pasadena and they have fostered closer ties. Two years ago, hearing of hurricane damage in Pasadena, students in Hadano elementary schools and junior high schools quickly got involved in donation activities for Pasadena schools and people.
The mission members visited sister schools in Hadano, and the students could learn the importance of international understanding and friendship by meeting friends face to face from our sister city.
This mission also visited a child care center. Five-year-old kids welcomed them with singing and dancing, infusing the visit with great joy and energy. The mission members responded by shaking hands with each one of them.
It seemed to me that the mission members were shaking hands with the future. Even though the children could not communicate in the same language, through warm handshakes and body language they surely received something important.
I hope that this leads them to begin thinking about our relations with other countries, and in the future, building up goodwill and friendship with them, including through sister-city relationships.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.