Sidney and the Japanese city of Niimi will be renewing their sister-city relationship this week when a group of Japanese students and their adult chaperones visit later this month.
The three adults and 10 students, aged 13 to 17 years old, will visit Sidney between Friday, Oct 4. and Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Bob McLure, chairperson of the Niimi committee of Sidney Sister City Association, said this will be a second time a student delegation has visited Sidney since 2014. In total, Sidney has hosted at least five delegations from Japan.
“It’s an international relationship,” McLure said. “Japan has a very good relationship with Canada, particularly with B.C. [and] Niimi has always been ahead of other cities in that they really want their students to learn to speak English, because it is the international language, and they are very technologically advanced compared to other places here as well as Japan.”
Sidney and Niimi formed their sister-city relationship in 2008. “We were approached by a lady from Niimi in Japan, who was living here, to see if we wanted to form a sister-city relationship,” McLure said. Sidney had previously established sister-city relationships with Cairns in Australia, and Anacortes, WA in the United States.
Niimi, a community of 30,000, lies on Honshu, the largest of the Japanese main islands, in a mountainous region known for mining and cattle raising.
Niimi, in other words, differs quite a bit from Sidney.
“I think it is the contrast that they look for,” said McLure, noting that Niimi officials have been very welcoming.
“The town has always supported our sister city relationship, and it is going well,” he said.
Local highlights on the group’s itinerary include public skating at Panorama Recreation Centre and tours of the BC Aviation Museum and Sidney Town Hall. They will also receive a guided tour of the B.C. Legislature.