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Kawachinagano, Osaka, Japan

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City of Carmel Sister Cities

In 1993, Kawachinagano City sent its Friendship City Research Group to Carmel, Indiana. Based on the results of their findings, it was decided that Carmel would be Kawachinagano’s Sister City. The research group based part of their decision on Carmel’s similarities in areas such as blessed environment, abundant nature and educational interests. In the following year, on April 8, 1994, the signing of the Sister City agreement was held at Lovely Hall in Kawachinagano, Osaka, Japan. The next day, Carmel Sister Cities Inc. and the Kawachinagano International Friendship Association (KIFA) drew up an agreement regarding future city activities.

Since the Sister City agreement was made, both Carmel and Kawachinagano have had repeated exchanges and have sent delegate and visiting groups to each other’s cities. Various kinds of activities with Carmel have continued including: exchange projects between police and fire department personnel; student/children picture exchange; piano concert; and participation in Carmel’s International Arts Festival for many years.

Seikyo Gakuen Jr./Sr. High School

Carmel High School and Seikyo Gakuen School’s relationship as sister schools began in 1998. Carmel was matched with Seikyo Gakuen by a Secondary School Principals Association in Washington, D.C. when both cities applied to have a sister school. Carmel chose a school in Japan, because it was experiencing the location of some Japanese companies in the area, the administrators and staff were enrolling their children in its schools after moving to the area, and Carmel felt it needed to become better acquainted with the Japanese culture and language. Since Carmel’s exchanges began, the Japanese language was established in the school’s curriculum.

Carmel sent its first group of students to Kawachinagano City, a suburb of Osaka City, Japan, on an exchange program in 1988 to Seikyo Gakuen, a private Christian school. It’s a very selective school consisting of approximately 2,200 students. The students enrolled there enjoy a large variety of sports and music in addition to their college preparatory curriculum. It was decided from then on that every other year there would be an exchange. Carmel would travel to Japan on the even years, and then it would host the Japanese students on odd years. Each trip includes a host home for the student, and the schedule includes the visiting group’s entertainment consisting of songs and dances, cooking together, visiting neighboring cities of the host city, exchanging t-shirts and experiencing specific cultural aspects of the host country.

Carmel invites one or two year-long students from Seikyo Gakuen School to attend Carmel High School on an every other year basis, and, in turn, Carmel sends one or two high school students to attend Seikyo on the opposite year. Generally, Carmel students remain in Japan only six months, as they wish to return to Carmel and graduate on their original schedule. Carmel’s exchange student program has grown strong enough that a few scholarships are offered to assist students in their travel to Japan.

Carmel has also incorporated a PTO – PTA exchange between the two schools, which occurs the same time as the student exchange trips. However, the adults are placed on a different schedule of activities at the time of their visits.

The Sister City relationship was a natural development from the sister school relationship. Carmel delegates visited Seikyo and were invited to visit City Hall and have an audience with the mayor and city council. The City did the same in Carmel for Seikyo’s visits. Citizens from Kawachinagano and Carmel decided that there should be a relationship between cities as well as the two schools.

Due to the success of Carmel’s exchanges and friendships that were developed with the citizens of Kawachinagano City, Carmel became a Sister City with Kawachinagano.

Carmel and Kawachinagano City have had some fruitful activities together which have included: a trade fair in Japan, the development of a Japanese-style garden in Carmel, business exchanges of adults, a yearly student artwork exchange and guest artists have participated in the annual Carmel International Arts Festival. Guests were also leaders at the Indiana State Fair two years ago when Japan was the featured country.

Japanese Garden

On March 23, 2007, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the creation of the Japanese Garden around the pond on the south side of Carmel City Hall. Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, members of Carmel Sister Cities, Inc., 36 visitors from Seikyo Gakuen School in Kawachinagano, Osaka, Japan and other local dignitaries from Carmel were in attendance.

Carmel Sister Cities, Inc. and the City of Carmel created the Japanese Garden at City Hall to commemorate Carmel’s relationship with its Sister City, Kawachinagano, Japan. The garden provides the community with a restful and relaxing oasis where they can come and reflect and enjoy the green space.

The City of Carmel’s Japanese Garden brings together nature inspired elements associated with Japanese Gardens, such as a gateway with sculpture, a garden path, a cove with crane sculptures, lantern sculptures, benches, pond edge boulder groupings, tree groupings and a weeping willow view.

Mr. Hidekazu Tsuji, Mr. Toshiyuki Tsuji, Mr. Shiro Yamaguchi and Mr. Takuya Chiba from the Kawachinagano International Friendship Association (KIFA) traveled to Carmel to assemble the Sukiya gate in the garden. The Sukiya was assembled using special hand tools and black Japanese tile. This traditional Japanese construction is done without the use of modern nails, screws, brackets, hinges, etc. The type of wood used in the gate is called Hinoki, a very popular wood in Japan that comes from a slow growing tree, which makes the wood very dense. The two outside beams of the gate are from a tree that was 200 years old and the inside smaller beams that frame the gate are from a tree that was 100 years old. In addition, Mr. Tsuji ordered Indiana limestone to be shipped to Japan where it was engraved with the inscriptions for the gate. This gate is typically used as a front entrance gate or as a gate to a teahouse.

During the time when the outdoor lighting was limited, lanterns were used to light the walkways with candles burning inside. Often numerous lanterns stood along roadways to shrines and temples. In medieval times when the tea ceremony became popular, the stone lanterns were used to light up the Japanese Gardens. Today, stone lanterns are essential decorative pieces in Japanese Gardens. The stone lanterns are also sometimes used for indoor accent pieces in interior design.

In 2009, the completion of the Japanese Garden was celebrated along with the 15th anniversary of Kawachinagano City recognized as a Sister City. The ceremony was followed by Kawachinagano Day, a Japanese cultural exposition. Japanese delegates had demonstrations of Calligraphy, Koto performance, Origami Tea Ceremony and Ikebana (flower arranging).

Summer Tea House

Construction on the tea gazebo began in 2010 in a joint venture between Kawachinagano Rotary Club and Carmel Rotary Club. Mr. Tsuji of Kawachinagano created the layout for the beautiful tea house. The gazebo was built to commemorate the Sister City relationship between the two Rotary clubs and the founding anniversary of the Japanese Rotary group.

In 2011, there was a celebration for the Azumaya Style Japanese Tea Gazebo located in the Japanese Garden behind City Hall and the 50th anniversary Kawachinagano Rotary Club, Osaka, Japan. The ceremony was followed by a reception including a Japanese tea ceremony and tea tasting.