Celebrating 30 years as a sister city with Minokamo

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Over the last few days I have had the pleasure of celebrating the 30th anniversary of our sister city relationship with the Japanese city of Minokamo.

A delegation from Dubbo including Councillors Greg Mohr and Dayne Gumley, Dubbo Regional Council CEO Michael McMahon and other citizens came over to mark the occasion, and our visit really showed how seriously both cities value the friendship.

All delegates from Dubbo self-funded the visit so there was no cost to Dubbo ratepayers.

We started the trip with a look around some of the local sites on Friday, 18 October before the official proceedings started on Saturday.

After starting with a traditional tea ceremony we met with officials from Minokamo before a reaffirmation of the relationship between the two cities. Minokamo Mayor Seiichi Ito and I both signed the document agreeing to further promote and strengthen our co-operative relationship in the areas of education and youth exchange, tourism, and health and wellbeing.

We also agreed to continue efforts to further the friendship and mutual understanding of Japan and Australia.

This was a fantastic start to what was an action-packed couple of days. We then headed to River Port Park to unveil the gift from the city of Dubbo to Minokamo to celebrate 30 years; a sculpture family of Eastern Grey Kangaroos, comprising a male, female and joey.

Crafted in bronze by local artist Brett Garling, this was a very popular gift because our Japanese friends are big fans of our national icon. In fact there were many in Minokamo who would have liked us to present them with a couple of the real thing. I did joke to our hosts that I tried to catch a couple to bring with me but they were too quick for me.

We also planted a tea tree to mark the anniversary of the sister city relationship and Minokamo honoured us by naming Dubbo Road after us. The 300-metre walkway at River Port Park is very prominent and well signposted so it will become very famous there in the future.

On Sunday we were part of the Onsai Festival which was a highlight for everyone from the delegation.

Part of the Onsai Festival is the procession of the princesses. This ancient tradition has shone in Minokamo because the city is on a main travelling route to Tokyo. It turns out this year is the 160th year since the birth of Minokamo’s most famous resident Shoyo. Shoyo was the first person to translate Shakespeare to Japanese. He revolutionised Japanese performing arts, literature and culture.

When Minokamo built our Japanese gardens for us in 2004, they named it Shoyoen (Shoyo Park) in recognition of this very important man.

Following the festival we had a formal dinner where I was able to thank our hosts, including Mayor Ito, for making us feel so welcome and inviting us to take part in their festivities.

A return delegation from Minokamo led by Mayor Ito, will visit Dubbo between 20-24 November and we have some exciting events planned during their trip.

Last Edited: 28 Oct 2019

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