Ishigaki Officials visit the Mayor of Kaua'i (Photo Courtesy: Kaua'i County)

Celebrating 60 Years of Trans-Pacific Friendship: The Kaua‘i-Ishigaki Sister City Relationship

Japan Asia

Kaua‘i and Ishigaki, two communities separated by oceans but united by an unbreakable sister city bond have recently celebrated 60 years of their sister city relationship.

Mayors Meeting
Mayor Kawakami and Mayor Nakayama sign a resolution to reaffirm the sister city relationship between Kaua‘i County and Ishigaki City (Photo Courtesy: Kaua'i County).

In a world where connections are often defined by distance and differences, the enduring bond between Kaua‘i, Hawaii, and Ishigaki, Japan, shines as a beacon of cross-cultural friendship.

Recently, the two communities marked a significant milestone, celebrating the 60th anniversary of their sister city relationship with a series of ceremonies and celebrations that exemplify the power of international collaboration and understanding.

Six decades ago, Kaua‘i and Ishigaki embarked on a journey of cultural exchange and friendship, formally cementing their relationship as sister cities. The historic signing took place in May 1963, paving the way for a lasting connection that has transcended geographical boundaries. From the early days of this affiliation, the two communities recognized the shared values that unite them and the potential for growth through mutual respect and cooperation.

The heart of the Kaua‘i-Ishigaki sister city relationship lies in the vibrant cultural exchange that has thrived over the past 60 years. The recent reaffirmation ceremony held at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall stood as a testament to the enduring spirit of this exchange. Performances by Kumu Hula Troy Allen Hinano Lazaro, Hālau Ka Pā Hula O Hīnano, Shannon Daliva, and Hui Alu – Kaua‘i Okinawan Club infused the event with the rich tapestry of both cultures, underscoring the importance of sharing traditions and heritage.

The centerpiece of this celebratory milestone was the reaffirmation resolution signed by Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami of Kaua‘i and Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama of Ishigaki. This symbolic act solidified the commitment to continue nurturing the deep ties that have been cultivated over the years. Mayor Kawakami, in his speech, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to honor a promise made decades ago – a promise to share cultural heritage, exchange knowledge, strengthen economies, and recognize the collective foundation on which the sister city relationship was built.

As Kaua‘i and Ishigaki look to the future, the celebrations marking their 60th anniversary serve as a steppingstone towards enhanced collaboration. Throughout their 60-year sister city relationship, Kaua‘i and Ishigaki have celebrated numerous milestones, including reciprocal visits by each mayor that have strengthened diplomatic ties. Their vibrant cultural exchanges have brought traditional performances and exhibitions to each community, fostering a deeper understanding of their respective heritages. Educational programs tailored for middle school students have facilitated enriching cross-cultural experiences, promoting friendship and mutual respect from a young age. This enduring relationship has demonstrated its strength not only in times of harmony but also in times of crisis. When global news of the devastating Kaua‘i flood reached Japan, Ishigaki officials responded with compassion and solidarity. Raising funds and personally flying over to Kaua‘i, they presented a heartfelt donation to support disaster relief efforts. This joint effort showcased the unwavering bond between these sister cities and the power of philanthropy to bridge international divides.

The story of the Kaua‘i-Ishigaki sister city relationship stands as a powerful reminder of the potential for unity and understanding. As Kaua‘i and Ishigaki celebrate their 60-year journey, their story resonates as a beacon of hope and a testament to the enduring impact of cross-cultural relationships.

Local Performance
Kumu Hula Troy Allen Hinano Lazaro and Shannon Daliva of Hālau Ka Pā Hula O Hīnano (Photo Courtesy: Kaua'i County)

The East-West Center in Washington would like to thank the Mayor of Kaua'i County for allowing us to use photographs from the ceremony.

Aynur Kerimu is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a graduate student at Georgetown University studying Asian Studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, with a double concentration in Security and Economics in East and Central Asia.