We had a small reunion! Some of the delegation members from April 2018 were able to drop by Kelley Park and with the help of several of San Jose’s City Councilmembers, their staff, Vice Consul Ryo Aono (who had help from Kevin O’Donnell from the Consulate of Japan SF) and San Jose-Okayama Sister Cities volunteers (Denise Esparza, City of San Jose Parks Recreation and Neighborhood Services, Elanor Sakamoto, translator), sponsors (Catherine M. Tompkison), SJOSC Board members, Elizabeth Chien-Hale, Tina Urata, Dr. Mototaka Senda, Kathy Sakamoto – We also had students who will be participating in the Homestay in Okayama 2018 (July) program this year!
We must acknowledge our wonderful Sister City International Special Ambassador, Mr. Shin Koyamada and his wonderful wife, Nia Lyte! They always add so much to any event! Shin is a martial artist, having studied and competed in many martial arts disciplines. He is also an actor, gaining fame as “Nobutada” the son of the samurai played by Ken Watanabe. Shin is also a Special Ambassador for karate for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and a Board member to Sister Cities International.
We have great support from San Jose City Councilmembers, D10-Johnny Khamis, D3-Raul Peralez & his wife, Victoria & Chief of Staff Christina Ramos, D4-Lan Diep and staffer Thulien Dang, D8-Sylvia Arenas (represented by Lauren Urhausen, D2-Sergio Jimenez represented by Vanessa Sandoval and last but not least, D7-Tam Nguyen & staff Louansee Moua.
The Kelley Park Japanese Friendship Garden was modeled after the great Korakuen Garden, one of the three great gardens of Japan which is on the grounds of Okayama Castle. The Castle is known as the “Castle of the dark bird” or “Crow Castle” because of the dark background of the walls of the building.
The garden in San Jose, CA was damaged severely during the flooding in February of 2017 and is still being restored. The descendants of the original koi flown to San Jose, CA as gifts to San Jose from Okayama City, Japan, still inhabit the filtered pools in the Kelley Park Japanese Friendship Garden. A new filtration system is needed to allow the fish back in the larger pond areas. Since this costs in the $100K range, a lot of fundraising is needed. All funds to Parks & Recreation must go through the Parks Foundation.