City celebrates 30th anniversary of sister city status with Miyoshi

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Japanese student Hisahito Kanzaka, left, of Miyoshi, Japan, and his host Kai Calas use a translation device as he participates in a life sciences class during a visit by students and teachers from Columbus’ sister city Miyoshi, Japan at Northside Middle School in Columbus, Ind., Friday, Dec. 1, 2023.

On July 5 1994, Columbus began a relationship with Miyoshi, Japan, one of four sister cities.

A cultural status agreement between Columbus and Miyoshi was signed by then-Columbus Mayor Bob Stewart and Miyoshi Mayor Michio Tsukamoto. The sister city status was formalized on Nov. 30 of that year.

“That relationship is still very strong,” said Columbus Mayor Mary Ferdon, 30 years after it began. In 2023, Mayor Ferdon had the opportunity to visit Miyoshi, meet city officials, and tour local businesses.

Sister cities are an official agreement between two cities, and require a signature from the highest elected office in each city. Sister cities encourage cultural awareness, educational opportunities, and provide a number of other benefits that may look different depending on the specific relationship.

“The benefit is learning the culture, understanding the differences and also the similarities,” said Ferdon.

Columbus and Miyoshi have celebrated their friendship in a number of ways over the past 30 years. “Friendship Way,” the brick alleyway between Fourth and Fifth streets, was constructed from bricks gifted by citizens of Miyoshi. On the bricks are names of families, individuals, and businesses from Miyoshi. In addition to the bricks, Miyoshi has also donated cherry trees to Columbus. As recently as December 2023, students from Miyoshi visited Columbus, one of many times the two cities have facilitated student visits.

Although similarities are not required for sister city status, Columbus and Miyoshi have a number of them. The two cities have similar population sizes, location in relation to large cities, and automotive manufacturing is a major aspect of the local economy, according to the city of Columbus’s website.

The cities were introduced when local Garry Seim and Miyama Co., Chairman Dick Yamamoto met through business introductions. This developed into programs for both cities that fostered friendship and cultural exchange, and 30 years later, is the relationship that Columbus residents may be familiar with today.

Columbus’s Other Sister Cities

Löhne, Germany, since 1994

Xiangyang, China, since 2011

Pune, India, since 2019