Boston welcomed the Mayor of Kyoto, Daisaku Kadokawa in late April with an annual gala dinner hosted by the Japan Society of Boston. The Society also invited Nobel Laureate and Kyoto University Distinguished Professor, Tasuku Honjo, to attend the event.
Sister cities differ from other bilateral community relationships in that they are recognized with an official signed agreement. Because of the formal structure of this relationship, the two cities are able to successfully foster deeper cultural, educational, and business ties. The sister relationship between Boston and Kyoto began when Mayor Takayama visited Boston in the early 1950s and he was impressed with the similarities between the two cultural and educational centers. Mayor Takayama suggested the partnership for official cultural exchange, and Mayor John Hynes accepted on June 24, 1959.
These ties are best shown via university study programs between Kyoto and Boston. Boston falls into Massachusetts 7th and 8th Congressional Districts and in total, the two districts have seven universities with Japanese studies programs. Overall, there are over 480 international students from Japan who contribute around $2.3 million to the local economy. For Kyoto, the Ritsumeikan-Showa Boston University Culture and Society Research Program offers a four week experience that focuses on Boston’s societal and cultural elements. Furthermore, there are four bilateral study abroad exchanges between Kyoto and Boston. Boston University has two partnerships with institutions in Kyoto: the Kyoto Consortium and the Kyoto Tachibana University. Other bilateral exchanges include the University of Massachusetts, Boston and Ryukoku University, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston) and the Kyoto University of Art & Design.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the friendship, many special events are being held in Boston. Japan Festival Boston was held on April 27 to 28 with food booths, workshops, stage performances, etc. It aims to introduce authentic Japanese culture and pass on traditions to the next generation. CIC ArtWeek: Global Arts, Eats & Beats was held on May 3 to introduce the roots of Japanese cultural traditions through art, food, and music.
Japan gave a Japanese-style house to the Boston Children’s Museum for its 20th anniversary. Before that Boston received two cherry blossoms, in addition to four Japanese gardens. These ties and current efforts signal a bright future between Boston and Kyoto.
Caitlin Huynh is a participant of the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She graduated from Virginia Tech with Bachelors of Arts in International Studies and French.
Seol Hong is an ASAN Academy Fellow and a participant in the East-West Center in Washington’s Young Professionals Program. She is a graduate of Korea National University of Arts concentrating in Musicology and minoring in Arts Management.