Delegates from Kelowna’s sister city of Kasugai, Japan gathered in downtown Kelowna for a celebration of the 40th year of the international relationship.
The celebration is being held two years late, as a result of COVID-forced cancellations. This is the first official visit since 2016.
The sister city relationship began in 1984, and three years later in 1987, the Kasugai Garden Park were opened in Kelowna.
At the hot and sunny July 13, ceremony, Mayor Tom Dyas welcomed Kasugai Mayor Naoki Ishiguro to the city at the gardens in downtown Kelowna, behind City Hall. The Kasugai Garden Park is open to the public every day during the summer months and its beauty represents the unity and friendship of the two cities.
At the welcome ceremony gifts were exchanged and a new plaque was unveiled at the entrance to the Kasugai gardens.
Delegates from the sister cities make an effort to meet up every few years and Mayor Ishiguro has previously visited Kelowna three times.
He said that his favourite parts of Kelowna are the sunny blue skies, the lake, nature and the friendliness and hospitality of the people.
Kasugai, Japan also has a physical representation of the relationship, with a street named Kelowna Boulevard. The street in Japan features a replica of the iconic Sails statue and has a Canadian maple leaf plaque.
The 25 Japanese delegates will stay in Kelowna for three days before continuing on their travels. Later this summer, a group of students from Kasugai will be coming to Kelowna as part of an exchange program.
When asked about any future travel plans to Japan, Mayor Tom Dyas said that he would love to return soon, but that he is kept busy with City of Kelowna responsibilities.
He visited Kasugai a few years ago while he was a member of the Kelowna Chamber of commerce and said that during the trip he brought over business ideas from Kelowna, and brought back ideas from Japan.
Dyas explained that not only is there a friendship between the cities, there is also a strong business relationship. Dyas said that he looks forward to showing the Japanese visitors around Kelowna over the next few days.