Saturday, July 24, 2010
Sakaide is a city on the north side of the Japanese island of Shikoku, within the prefecture of Kagawa (the old province of Sanuki).
Sakaide’s fortunes were changed forever when, in April of 1988, the Seto Ohashi Bridge was opened, spanning the Inland Sea and connecting Kurashiki on Honshu, the main island of Japan, with Sakaide.
In the same year officials from Sakaide came to the Bay Area to place a plaque at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge to acknowledge the similarities between the Seto Ohashi Bridge and the Golden Gate, and Sausalito and Sakaide concluded a sister city arrangement.
In the 20+ intervening years, there have been a number of student exchanges back and forth between the sister cities on alternate years, including the 2002 exchange when our son, Patrick, joined a group of Marin students on a trip to Sakaide (see the following picture taken in Sakaide with an insert of Patrick today).
Through the leadership and support of Susan Roe and other Sausalito community leaders, and the formation of the Sausalito Sister City Program non-profit organization, Sausalito’s sister city relationship with Sakaide has been strengthened. This past Thursday we welcomed the 2010 student exchange group from Sakaide to Sausalito, comprised of thirteen students, Mr. Hiroshi Aya, Sakaide’s mayor, Mr. Shunichi Urata, Sakaide’s Planning Division Chief, and two chaperones, Ms. Sachiko Nakanishi and Mr. Daisuke Matsumoto.
Yesterday morning the entire group participated at a program at the Sausalito City Hall at which Mayor Jonathan Leone and the members of the Sausalito City Counsel welcomed the group, and Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine and others added remarks. Consul General Nagamine pointed out in particular that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival in San Francisco of the Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese ship to ever reach the United States, and that many of the sailors on the ship had come from Sakaide and the surrounding Shiwaku Shotō islands in the Inland Sea.
After those ceremonies, the group moved outside for a final photo.
Susan and the Sister City Program have planned a full range of activities for the Sakaide students during their stay here, including hikes, English and dance lessons, visits to the Snoopy Museum and Safari West, and a Giants/Dodgers game. The students will depart on August 1.