History of Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Committee

Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Committee is a non-profit organization with membership by affiliation.  Our mission is to promote peace, freindship, international understanding and goodwill between Walla Walla, Washington, USA and Sasayama, Hyogo, JAPAN. The City of Walla Walla, Washington, USA entered into a sister city relationship with the City of Sasayama,Hyogo Japan on Aug 23, 1972.

On April 26, Walla Walla City Council was introduced to the concept of having a sister city by letter from the Washington State Department of Commerce and Economic Development.  A resolution was introduced and voted for approval by the full council on Aug 23, 1972.

Betweeen April and August of 1972 the city council also approved a motion that a street within the city be named “Sasayama Drive”.  The street selected is located as the entrance street into Pioneer Park off of Alder Street.

Initially the Walla Walla Sister City Affiliation Committee consisted of members of the city council.  Within two years citizens of the community were brought into the fold.

Early history of the Walla Walla Sister City Affiliation Committee is not well documents.  Most of the records are from city council minutes and scrapbooks maintained over the years by the committee.

The first visit from Sasayama to Walla Walla occured in the fall of 1973.  There is no record who the individual(s) were.  In response to that visit, Walla Walla planned to reciprocate int he fall of 1974.  Before that happened though, the Mayor of Sasayama and his son made a second visit to Walla Walla in July 1974.  Mayor Schioichi Fujii of Sasayama, with his son Keiichi came to Walla Walla to introduce the idea of a one year high school student exchange program.  It would be two years before an exchange began.

To reciprocate a visit to Sasayama the Sister City Committee formulated plans to visit Sasayama in the fall of 1974.  The city council adopted a resolution declaring a tour of Sasayama, Japan by citizens of Walla Walla and surrounding area on Oct 16, 1974, to be the official visit to Walla Walla’s Sister City, Sasayama, Japan.

This scheduled group tour was cancelled in September, but a delegation of City representatives was still slated to make a visit to Sasayama.  After much discussion and possible heated discussion there was no “official” visit conducted by city council or Sister City Committee members.  Instead a freelance photo journalist from Tacoma, along with his wife, Herb  and Bev Williams, were authorized by the Sister City Committee to represent Walla Walla at the annual fall harvest festival in Sasayama. (to be continued)

In 1974 the Sister City Committee


No 1   2012  Quarterly Newsletter

Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Affiliation Committee


Successful 2011 Home Stay

   Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Affiliation Committee conducted it’s annual two week home stay visit to Sasayama with ten high school students and four adult chaperones.  The group left Walla Walla on Oct 3 and returned Oct 16.

Students were from Walla Walla and Touchet High School.  Colleen Gibbons, Aaron  Ennriquez, Reid Magnaghi , Tanya Esquivael , Colton Jordan, Manuel Aguilar, Jordana Storm, Devon Pellham and Mitchell Huffman represented Wa-Hi and Paige Palmer is a senior at Touchet High School.

The students were great ambassadors and they indicated that the time was too short and they want to return.

During the visit to the mayor of Sasayama, Chairman Robert Keatts presented him with a cash donation to go toward the earthquake/tsunami relief.  This donation in addition to a donation made by the sister city committee immediately after the earthquake and donations made by individuals directly to Japan Earthquake/Tsunami relief funds totals over $10,000 from Walla Walla

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the recovery effort.

 Sasayama Students coming Mar 24

   Sasayama Sister City Committee will have a delegation of students with chaperones visit Walla Walla March 24 – April 3, 2012.  When we know the details on how many boys and girls we will start to arrange host families.  So expect an email or phone call in February.  Of course you can always volunteer ahead of time.

 40th Anniversary in 2012

   The official anniversary date, using the signature of both cities upon the official document, is August 23, 1972.  To honor the occasion, a delegation of approximately 25 adults will come from Sasayama August 29 through September 2.  Their stay will be short, but busy.

This will give you another opportunity to host our friends from Sasayama and help celebrate the occasion.  We will need lots of help for this event as it will involve the parade, attending the rodeo and a celebration party.

Fort Walla Walla Museum Exhibit

   The sister city committee is working with Fort Walla Walla Museum to have an exhibit dedicated to the 40th Anniversary.  Details are still being worked on.  If anyone has an item that is representative of Sasayama that they would like to have put in the exhibit contact Robert Keatts.

The exhibit will be viewable from April 1, 2012 through September 30, 2012.

 Recipient of 2011 Peace Prize Award

     The Washington State Association of Sister Cities awarded its 2011 Peace Prize Award to Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Affiliation Committee.  The honor is awarded to a city in Washington State that has demonstrated promotion of peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation – one individual, one community at a time.

There are 56 cities in the State of Washington that has one or more sister city relationships around the world.

Robert Keatts attended the Washington State Association of Sister Cities Conference in Bellevue, WA October 22, 2011.  It was a surprise and an honor to receive the award.  To everyone who has been involved, no matter how big or small, you are part of and get to share this award.

         YOUR OFFICERS FOR 2012

    The  officers selected by the nomination committee, and officially voted on at the December 5, 2011 meeting were Chairman, Robert Keatts; Vice Chairman, Dustin Palmer; Secretary, Barbara Noel; and Treasurer, Peggy Curtis.

    New Street in Sasayama

    Sasayama now has a street named for Walla Walla.  Next time you go to Sasayama you can ask someone in City hall how to get to Walla Walla Street.  It is just a short hop and skip out the front door and continue going south.  If you get to the castle moat you have gone to far.

Our Misson

Walla Walla, Washington, USA and Sasayama, Hyogo, JAPAN entered into a sister city relationship Aug 23, 1972.  The two communities were introduced to each other through the Washington State Economic and Trade Commission.  Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City is a non-profit organization.  Membership is by affiliation.

Through the exchange of culture, information and personal contact the promotion of peace, understanding, and friendship has created a lasting relationship. 

Home Stay programs, cultural exchange of music, dance and the arts have brought the two communities closer together in understanding the cultural diversity.

Regardless of political affiliation, religion, or cultural customs it is the understanding of the differences that leads to peace and friendship.  Neither culture is right or wrong, they are different.

It is the goal of the blog to educate the reader about the communities of Walla Walla and Sasayama, our programs, our successes and our failures.