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Izumi, Japan

Destination Japan: A sister city trip

Japan is far from an everyday destination, but four representatives recently visited Izumi, Bloomington’s sister city to the east. The trip commemorated the 25th anniversary of a distinctive relationship that bridges the 6,000 mile divide.

Councilmember Dwayne Lowman and his wife Kellie, Bloomington Public Health Administrator Bonnie Paulsen and City of Bloomington Auditor Vijayashree Srilalan made the trip. Airfare was paid by each participant. Remaining expenses were donated by hosts and partnering businesses. 

With a full itinerary, five days went by fast, but hospitality was in abundance. Ever-obliging hosts ensured all went well for their guests. Along the way, interpreters explained cultural nuances broadening the meaning of the trip.

The delegation met with Izumi City officials, attended banquets and visited cultural institutions. On their first day, the group climbed more than 100 steps to the Matsuo-ji Temple. 

“The trip was an amazing cultural immersion. The way that our hosts brought us to places of nature, school classrooms and tree-lined residential streets, not just the main tourist places—all this is Japan,” Paulsen said.

The Sister Cities program emerged out of the Cold War era as a way to promote friendship, understanding and economic relationships. “Japan was looking to start an exchange of people and gain a better understanding about culture,” Vijayashree said. “Representatives from both cities talked and found similarities.”

Maybe there is less distance than the map would lead us to believe.