60th Anniversary of San Jose-Okayama Partnership to Be Celebrated

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SAN JOSE — This year, San Jose and Okayama will celebrate the 60th anniversary of their sister-city partnership.

During that time, the relationship has provided rewarding experiences that have deepened the cultural bond between the people of San Jose and Okayama. To celebrate that anniversary, the two cities are planning a series of major activities in San Jose starting on April 21 and ending April 23, when 120 delegates from Okayama, led by Mayor Masao Omori, will visit San Jose.

The welcome flag raising event will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 21, at San Jose City Hall Plaza with San Jose Taiko. Following the welcome ceremonies, the guests and the public will be treated to a viewing of recently discovered student artwork from Okayama that dates back to the 1960s and 1970s.

Later that day, the guests will walk through the Kelley Park Japanese Friendship Garden. This garden was modeled after the famous Korakuen in Okayama, one of the three great gardens of Japan. Gifts of koi for the pond and the Momotaro statue at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts are also testaments to the lasting friendship between the two cities.

The Haiku Society and the City of San Jose Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services have prepared a haiku booklet and will be reading the haiku and providing information for the guests as they go through the garden. In the evening, the delegation will be hosted by the San Jose-Okayama Sister Cities at a barbecue dinner with mariachi and Ballet Folklorico entertainment arranged in collaboration with the San Jose-Guadalajara Sister Cities Committee.

On Saturday, April 22, the various groups of City Council members, the mayor and council chair, the Chamber of Commerce delegation and the citizens’ delegation will be visiting various places such as the Gordon Biersch Brewery in Japantown and AVAYA Stadium.

Cultural exchange performances at the Hammer Theater will enlighten, delight and energize everyone with kibigaku (ancient music and traditional spiritual dance, wadaiko (taiko from Japan), KalaAwishkar dance company, with dance from Pune, India, another San Jose sister city. The performances will end with hip-hop from The Get Down in San Jose Japantown.

The program will be emceed by Shin Koyamada and his wife, Nia Lyte. Born and raised in Okayama, Koyamada is an American actor/producer well known for co-starring as Nobutada opposite Tom Cruise in the Warner Bros. epic war film “The Last Samurai,” with a worldwide box office of $456 million, as well as starring in the global hit action-adventure Disney Channel original movie “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior.” He and his wife are co-founders of Koyamada International Foundation (KIF) in the U.S. and Japan.

Lyte is an American professional speaker, entrepreneur, television host, producer, author and philanthropist. She is best known for speaking at the Japan’s largest TEDx Talk in Kyoto and several U.N. NGO global events as keynote speaker in New York, Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas as well as hosting her show “Best of Art Basel Miami,” which was aired by Comcast, Ovation TV and Xfinity to TV.

Tickets available online ($3-$8) on Eventbrite: http://tinyurl.com/60thPerformances

The last day of the three days of festivities will see the Okayama delegation as participants in the annual Nikkei Matsuri in Japantown San Jose on Sunday, April 23, in performances and in a unique “Experience Okayama” booth, where the activities will include an opportunity to write calligraphy on an uchiwa (round fan) and to be dressed up in yukata for a commemorative photo in front of an iconic Okayama backdrop. Entrance to the festival is free of charge. Time: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Info: www.nikkeimatsuri.org

At 6:30 p.m., the public is invited to participated in a farewell dinner at the Rotary Summit Center featuring flutist Ray Furuta, who will be representing San Jose by invitation from Okayama City in its annual musical festival in October. Tickets: $95 per person. Info: http://tinyurl.com/60thFarewellDinner

For more information, email [email protected]

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