From Edmonds to Hekinan

Sister City Commission celebrates 30 years with another trip to Japan
By Brian Soergel | Apr 05, 2018
Courtesy of: Edmonds Sister City Commission Two mayors meet: Masanobu Negita from Hekinan and Dave Earling from Edmonds.

When the nine members of the Edmonds Sister City delegation return from Hekinan, Japan, on Friday, April 6, they will have seen some amazing sites from their week’s stay: City Hall and the Chubu thermal power plant, the Toyota automobile factory, the Tatsukichi Fujii Contemporary Art Museum and the Okazaki Castle Cherry Blossom Festival.

They also will take a day trip to Kyoto, formerly the imperial capital of Japan.

“It really is a great adventure for the folks who sign up to go,” said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, who is there with his wife, Susan. Among the delegation are Edmonds Historical Museum Director Katie Kelly and Edmonds Historic Commission Chair Emily Scott, a local archeologist. All pay their own expenses.

This year’s trip marks two anniversaries, as the Edmonds-Hekinan relationship was formed in 1988 under the stewardship of Mayor Larry Naughten. It’s also Hekinan’s celebration of its 70th anniversary.

Typically, delegates from both Hekinan and Edmonds stay in homes and are given opportunities to meet residents and business owners while experiencing the respective cultures first-hand.

Adult exchanges generally take place every five years or on significant anniversary dates. Other adult visits also have occurred on anniversaries of either city, such as the 125th anniversary of Edmonds in 2015.

(There will no student exchange in 2018. Those interested should check with the city in late October for information about the 2019 trip.)

“One of the real interesting parts of Hekinan is that while it’s a seaside city like we have here, they are an industrial and business community,” said Earling, who visited the city five years ago as well. “The Toyota factory was just stunning to go through. You look down on the floor where different parts are assembled, and there might be four to a half-dozen workers. But most of it is automated. It’s just amazing to watch.”

Earling and the others also get the chance to catch Hekinan’s government in action. Its City Council has 26 members, some of whom are appointed but most elected. Edmonds has seven councilmembers.

“For me, the benefit is that I better understand a different culture, a community, and how it functions,” Earling said. “People there are welcoming. When I attended their 65th anniversary celebration, there were around 700 people there. They are totally engaged, and are appreciative of our delegation coming.

“And while I have a better understanding of Japanese culture, the trip allows me to have more knowledge of the country to share it with other people, so it spreads further than just the nine people going.”

Earling said he has learned a little Japanese. “I can greet people,” he said, “and un-greet people.”

No problem. A translator accompanies Earling and the group, and is able to translate the mayor’s speeches ahead of time.

 

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