Mission’s sister city bond with Oyama, Japan has been strengthened after a visit from the Asian country two weeks ago.
Friendships were renewed and new connections were made, said Kelly Ridley, a member of the Mission International Cultural Association (MICA) which helped arrange the visit.
The 28 Japanese visitors stayed less than a week, but organizers packed a lot into the schedule. The group was led by Oyama’s mayor, Komiyama Masahide, and included some members of staff and business people.
Along with their hosts, the delegation toured the community, participated in the Mission Mayor Ted Adlem’s annual golf tournament, took part in Canada Day festivities, toured businesses and industries, visited Mission Raceway Park, Zajac Ranch and even managed to plant a tree in the renovated Oyama Friendship Garden outside the Chamber of Commerce on Lougheed Highway.
For Mission’s mayor, the golf tournament and Canada Day events were highlights of the trip. The Japanese display table at Fraser River Heritage Park was “unbelievable,” said Adlem, noting the visitors gave out treats, information about their community, gifts for children and anyone who visited their table. They were giving out dolls to girls and head gear to boys. Both mayors unveiled the Oyama Friendship Bell and gave speeches recognizing each other on July 1.
The businesses the group toured were recommended by Mission’s economic development officer based on what the delegation was interested in seeing.
They wanted to tour and try to find businesses with commonalities that could open in Japan, said Mission Mayor Ted Adlem, explaining the Japanese economy has been on a downward trench for the last 20 years. “They wanted to try to find some economic benefits for them.”
Some organizations the group visited were Cimtex Industries, Terrella Energy Systems and VIP Soaps.
Mt. Fuji was recently named a world heritage site and they’re hoping that will bring more tourism to their community, said Ridley.
MICA started planning for the visit in earnest this past January, but “no matter how much you plan for things, there will still be a lot of surprises,” said Ridley, noting more members are needed.
Although there were a handful of interpreters and some interpreting devices, the biggest challenge was the language barrier, said Adlem, adding that is something that can be worked on.
The two sides are scheduled to meet again in the fall of 2016 when a delegation from Mission visits Japan.