More photos from Takaoka, Japan

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More photos and comments from Mayor Tom Henry’s visit to Takaoka, Japan.

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From the Mayor’s official visit to the Takaoka Mayor on September 11, 2009, at 4:20 pm:

Thank you to Mayor Takahashi and to Takaoka for inviting me as your guest to this wonderful celebration for the 400th Anniversary of your beautiful city. My wife Cindy, myself and the rest of the delegation are enjoying the rich history, the beautiful surroundings and the wonderful people on this visit.  We are looking forward to the many activities, ceremonies and celebrations Takaoka has planned while we are here from Fort Wayne.

For more than 30 years, Fort Wayne and Takaoka have been sister cities. We have had some wonderful cultural exchanges over these three decades; earlier this year I had some Takaoka students visit me in my office, and it is a real treat to see young people from other parts of the world and our sister cities coming to Fort Wayne to learn about our culture. But I would also like to see our two communities strengthen and expand our friendship. The United States and Japan have built a strong diplomatic and trade relationship over the past 60 years. I think we have the possibility and the capability of using the existing ties between Fort Wayne and Takaoka to create economic development for each of our cities. We both have innovative companies creating products and services with worldwide appeal.

The hospitality we have received has been delightful. We look forward to participating in the ceremony, festival and reception tomorrow. I am excited about enhancing our Sister City relationship and learning more about Takaoka. Again, thank you for inviting our Fort Wayne delegation.

Comments for the gift presentation:

On behalf of the more than 250,000 residents of Fort Wayne, I am honored to present Mayor Takahashi and all the citizens of Takaoka “Okurimono,” a wooden, painted sculpture as our gift to your city for the 400th Anniversary.

Using the Rising Sun from the Japanese flag, this carved piece depicts a single sun over Takaoka and Fort Wayne with items and scenes representative of both cities. Just as the sun sets on Takaoka, it’s rising in Fort Wayne and vice-versa. We may be a half a world apart, but we are always under the same sun.

The sculpture so elegantly represents each of our cities. For Fort Wayne, it shows our City’s skyline, the Old Fort and a great Blue Heron in wetlands. For Takaoka, local Fort Wayne artist Michael Schmid chose two Cranes, a Cherry Tree and Bonsai Tree, a Buddha and the Zuiryu-Ji Temple.

The artist was influenced by a variety of artistic styles including Asian Art, Chinese and Japanese paintings, Aboriginal Dreamtime paintings and European Pointillism.

Please enjoy this as Fort Wayne’s gift to Takaoka.

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Comments at the Mayor’s Banquet on September 11th at 7:00 pm:

Konnichiwa and good evening! It has been a wonderful arrival to Japan and Takaoka. Thank you for all of your hospitality so far. We’ve only been here a few hours and we have already experienced such gracious and welcoming people. Thank you to Mayor Takahashi and his staff for his warm welcome earlier this afternoon at City Hall. This is my first trip to Japan and Asia so I am taking in all of the experiences.

Fort Wayne has been a Sister City with Takaoka for more than 30 years. In my office in Fort Wayne, we have a number of gifts and artwork from Takaoka so I am reminded of our connection to your city every day. Earlier this year, I had some high school students from Takaoka visit me in my office as part of a cultural exchange. People from Fort Wayne and Takaoka have developed wonderful friendships over the years. We not only travel to one anothers cities, but we also exchange ideas and information. It’s people-to-people diplomacy.

Takaoka also has a special place in Fort Wayne’s Sister Cities history as it was the first Sister City for Fort Wayne. A delegation from your city visited Fort Wayne in 1976 and we signed our formal Sister Cities agreement April 8, 1977. In the past 10 years we have marked the 25th and 30th Anniversaries of this international friendship. Now we are here to be part of your city’s 400th Anniversary.

I know our entire delegation is looking forward to tomorrow’s adventures and tours. We will be visiting the Zuiryu-Ji Temple, participating in a tea ceremony and then in the afternoon we will take part in the quadrennial commemoration at Takaoka Civic Hall and then some other events to celebrate your city’s 400th Anniversary. We are enjoying the rich history of Takaoka and the friendly and welcoming people.

Again, thank you for being such gracious hosts. It has been an amazing experience and we haven’t even been here a full day!

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From the 400th Takaoka Anniversary Ceremony, September 12th at 1:30 pm:

Konnichiwa. Thank you for inviting Fort Wayne as your Sister City from Indiana to participate in today’s ceremony. From our tour this morning, our delegation has developed a deeper appreciation of Takaoka’s culture heritage and history. We took part in a tea ceremony and visited the Zuiryu-Ji Temple. It was like nothing I have ever seen before and something I will never forget. Thank you also for the hospitality from Mayor Takahashi and his staff. It has been wonderful to meet a fellow Mayor.

In the United States, we are a relatively young country. When the initial delegation from Takaoka visited Fort Wayne in 1976, the United States was celebrating its bicentennial, and we thought it was a big deal to be 200 years old. And for Fort Wayne, I remember about 15 years ago when our city celebrated its 200th Birthday. Now we are here to mark 400 years of history and tradition in Takaoka.

Civic ceremonies to mark important milestones build a wonderful sense of community. This is going to be a celebration Takaoka residents won’t soon forget and we are extremely honored to be included in this ceremony and the other activities for the day. Thank you for including Fort Wayne. You have been cordial hosts and we look forward to taking part in all of the festivities.

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