A delegation from Summerland’s sister city, Toyokoro, Japan, arrived in town last week.
On Tuesday morning a welcome reception was held at city hall with mayor and council in attendance along with the sister city committee.
The welcome was also a chance for chamber of commerce members and local business owners to show off their goods and discuss possible trade opportunities with Toyokoro.
Mayor Takashi Miyaguchi said he was honoured to be welcomed so warmly. He, along with Noriyuki Shima, chair of Toyokoro’s sister city association, expressed interest in exchanging information to develop business and trade opportunities and hoped the trade conference would be fruitful and successful.
Also at the welcome, Emiko Sato carried out a Japanese tea ceremony for 20 people selected to take part. The tea ceremony is an important tradition in Japan, started some 400 years ago and viewed as the art of spiritual exchange between host and guest.
The Toyokoro delegation was kept busy during their visit, visiting attractions, businesses in the area, from municipal buildings and schools to the Seniors’ Village and the Museum, shopping in downtown Summerland and eating at local restaurants. They also enjoyed the hospitality of their host families.
On Wednesday, a ceremony was held at Kin Park where a bench was unveiled and dedicated to Toyokoro in honour of the relationship between the two cities. The bench was a gift to Toyokoro from the sister city committee and funds received from the city were used to plant a garden and place an arch over the bench.
The delegates also attended the re-dedication of the Toro lantern at the health centre on Thursday.
A farewell party was held at the arena banquet room on Thursday evening, where guests enjoyed a traditional thanksgiving turkey dinner paired with local Okanagan wines. The evening included a fashion show and entertainment followed by speeches and the presentation of gifts.
In her farewell speech to the delgation, Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino said the sister city relationship with Toyokoro, Japan is one of the most important relationships that Summerland has maintained for more than 20 years. The relationship brings opportunities for youth, business, new community ideas and cultural exchanges. She thanked Toyokoro for their friendship and invited them to come back soon.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I strongly believe Summerland and Toyokoro have an eternal friendship,” responded Miyaguchi.
It was an emotional night for many, having to say good-bye, but also looking forward to and making plans for the 20th anniversary of the Sister City relationship in 2016, when a delegation from Summerland will visit Japan.