on August 5th, San Jose-Okayama Sister Cities joins 50 (fifty) cities throughout the USA and thirteen prefectures in Japan in commemoration of 75 years of peace following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. The nuclear weapon was dropped on Hiroshima at 8:15am on August 6th. Japan, being 16 hours ahead of us here on the West Coast, USA, we will be ringing simultaneously here (Aug 5th, 4:15pm PDT) and in Japan (Aug 6th, 8:15am).
Tokuzenji in Oda City, Shimane Prefecture, Japan will be ringing their temple bell simultaneously with San Jose (on Zoom) and others in San Jose will be joining us.
In this time of the COVID19 world pandemic, it is good to remember that we are still working with our friends everywhere around the world through sister cities to become a peaceful collaboration of culture and community.
Team Japan of Sister Cities International is organizing something nationwide between USA and sister cities in Japan for peace. In remembrance of the 75th Anniversary of the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to remind us that this should never happen again, everyone is invited to ring bells, at home, in your city, whoever you are.
Our sister cities in Japan will be ringing bells at the same moment in time, literally creating good vibrations across the Pacific.
The dates are Aug 5th and Aug 7th in the USA. Please look to this website for more detailed information after July 4th, so that we can make a joyful noise together!
The Sister City movement started after WWII when transgressions of race, ethnicity within the USA and atrocities were committed in wartime around the world. The idea was to promote familiarity and exchange between citizens in the USA and other cities, one by one, around the world.
As we look at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic today, we are brought back to the point, once again, quite emphatically, that we are just that – all human, all one, in a hopefully mutually beneficial relationship with spaceship earth.
As systemic racism is once again brought to the fore in the USA and again, around the world, we know that the incremental challenges faced by us all will necessitate both large, massive change and small, incremental changes throughout our way of life, our thinking, ourselves.
These challenges are known as we’ve faced them before. Having the wisdom of those who have led us before encourages, supports, allows breathing to resume.
Here are two statements from San Jose-Okayama Sister Cities Honorary Advisor, Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. He writes these statements as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Japanese-American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA.
There are 105 officially recognized Sister City relationships between cities in California USA and Japanese cities in the country of Japan. Among them, the San Jose-Okayama Sister City relationship is one of the oldest. The California-Japan Sister City Network (CJSCN) was formed in 2018 to help all of the sister cities with Japan in networking, sharing ideas and resources and to spread the awareness of the great benefits of citizen-to-citizen diplomacy. We thank Consul General Uyama, his wife and Consulate staff for allowing us to experience his hospitality and for the opportunity to connect with other sister city organizations who also love their relationships with their sister cities in Japan.
We had tour of Diridon Station given by Rod Diridon himself, were led along the Guadalupe River on our way to SAP center from San Jose Walks and Talks, visited the SHARKS store, had a tour of San Jose City Hall and visited our councilmembers who made us all welcome!
All this began at the Welcome event in the Okayama Room at Kelley Park. The had a tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden which was modeled after the great landscape garden, Korakuen in Okayama and partially paid for with a gift from the City of Okayama was back in the beginnings of the Sister City relationship (1957). The students performed for us and then met their homestay families over a buffet lasagna buffet dinner topped off with seasonal fresh fruit and a cake from Peter’s Bakery in San Jose.
Summer 2020 will be a chance for eight students from San Jose to go to Okayama on the Homestay exchange program. Applications and details will be available by communicating with <firstname.lastname@example.org>
…had such a good time learning about each other and enjoying the company!
Here’s a list of what we did:
Day 1- Welcome at Kelley Park, Okayama Room with City Councilmembers Raul Peralez, Johnny Khamis, Lan Diep & Pam Foley (also a host family!). The students met their host families – just the beginning of the adventure! Students had a tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden with Girl Scout, Aderyn Clark. When back at the Okayama Room, they performed “We Will Rock You” and “Twist and Shout” – the latter with acoustic guitar!
DAY 2- Rod Diridon himself gave the group a tour of Diridon Station, citing past and future plans. “San Jose Walks & Talks” both former JET program teachers. We walked along Guadalupe Park enjoying the explanations of the art installations, then it was off to see SAP Center but really, we only got to experience the Sharks Store as SAP was closed to the public. We were hungry, so our next stop was Poor House Bistro where we relaxed for an hour or so before heading off to San Jose City Hall for a tour. Notes 1) San Jose was the first capitol of the State of California! The Circle of Palms was on our list to visit on Friday. 2) from the 18th Floor of City Hall you can see all of San Jose! 3) We were welcomed by City Councilmemers, Sylvia Arenas, Pam Foley, and Johnny Khamis in their offices. Ending the day with a baseball game was just the ticket. And so we did! Students were hosted by the San Jose Giants and ran around the bases with Gigante after two students had the pleasure of throwing a ‘first pitch’ before the game began! Two other students competed in the air guitar contest and everyone had hot dogs and baseball souvenirs courtesy of GM Mark Wilson! It was a great night!
DAY 3- Monterey Bay Aquarium. We all met and loaded ourselves onto a bus to Monterey for the day. The California coastline is famous and we wanted to take them to our world famous aquarium. Osaka Japan has a huge aquarium, large enough to hold a whale shark swimmingly on display, and they also had a dedicated exhibit on the Monterey kelp forest and of course, the lovable sea otters! Good food at the aquarium cafeteria, souvenirs from Cannery Row and the eco-friendly aquarium store plus all the popular sea creatures (jellies, sharks, sardines, groupers, and otters being favorties) – we hopped back on the bus to San Jose where host families picked up the students.
DAY 4- Friday was Downtown San Jose day – starting with the TECH Immersive. No one wanted to leave, the exhibits were amazing and fun. We walked to lunch hitting San Pedro Square where everyone scattered to find what they wanted to eat, browse the Farmers Market and meet in time to walk to…next destination…The San Jose Museum of Art and Circle of Palms. On the way, we stopped in to see St. Joseph’s Basilica. Photos, no flash, had become the norm, so everyone was busily taking pictures of the beautiful interior. At the San Jose Museum of Art, our docents engaged everyone interactively in the current exhibits. Students sat on the floor, having become a little more at ease in using their English skills, answered questions and asked some too. The gift shop was on the list and well appreciated. Having changed clothes after our visit to the museum, we headed to the Capital Club where a friend of SJOSC had offered to help by largely sponsoring an ‘adult event’ for host families, councilmembers and specially invited guests and the students with great views from the club and a taco buffet dinner. Here, SJOSC was presented with a surprise Commendation by Councilmember D9 & Host Family Pam Foley from the City of San Jose! Ahh – but that was not the end of the evening. We walked the short distance to the Montgomery Theater to see “Legally Blonde” by the Children’s Musical Theater of San Jose. It was a great way to end our ‘downtown’ day!
DAY 5- FREE DAY! Host families did everything from host BBQ’s at their homes, to taking students to Great America and an Oakland A’s game! Our Okayama staff chaperones had a visit to Santana Row and Willow Glen and a BBQ later at a wonderful home.
DAY 6- JAPANTOWN SJ Day- First was a tour in Japanese of the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) on 5th Street. Then over to the corner to have a hiphop basics class taught by an energetic and wonderful teacher from The Get Down Dance Studios! Worn out? Not yet! The students went along Jackson St to get a snack before visiting the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin on 5th Street. After taking ample time to talk and get to know a little about the history of such a Japanese place in America, we went around the block to our farewell Jtown Pizza party on 6th Street hosted by SJSU!
DAY 7- All good things must end? Really? We did have to say ‘good-bye’ or ‘sayonara’ and ‘be well’ to our new friends! Sad, but we know everyone will stay in touch with each other! With so many memories to keep us warm, we look forward to the next time we get to see everyone! Maybe in 2020??? We’ll see! KAMPAI!
Most host families and homestay students stay friends for life. It is just that good!