San Jose’s sister city: Okayama, Japan

The Japanese Friendship Garden continues to be a living symbol of our relationship with Okayama, Japan. | Photo via @titosuavex

Earlier this year, we introduced to you Dublin, Ireland, the fifth of eight San Jose sister cities — but do you know about our ane (eldest sister)

Established in May 1957, Okayama, Japan is San Jose’s oldest sister city relationship and is the third oldest in the US. The Sister Cities International program was created by President Eisenhower in 1956 in an effort to promote peace + diplomacy across international borders. 

Today, we’re diving into San Jose’s historic bond with our sister across the Pacific. 🌏

The Japanese Friendship Garden continues to be a living symbol of our relationship with Okayama, Japan. | Photo via @doitwithwilly

🌸 Rooted in relationships 

Three years following our official sisterhood, San Jose broke ground on the Japanese Friendship Garden in Kelley Park — patterned after the world-famous Korakuen Garden in Okayama. 

In October 1965, the park was dedicated in a ceremony where San Jose City Council + former Okayama mayor Hirao Okazaki were present to formally celebrate the eighth anniversary of our affiliation. 

Momotaro, the Peach Boy. | Photo via @guadaluperiverparkconservancy

⛩️ Okay-ama, what else?

There are many other reminders of our sister city in San Jose

  • Momotaro, the Peach Boy — Momotaro is a Japanese folk hero and his statue sits outside of the Okayama City train station. In 1957, San Jose acquired a replica from Okayama + placed it in Guadalupe Park as a reminder of our relationship. 
  • The Issei Pioneer stone — This 11,000-lb granite rock traveled to Japantown from Inujima Island and represents the strength + perseverance of the Issei immigrants a century ago. This landmark can be found on the corner of Fifth + Jackson Street in Japantown

🤝 A lasting friendship

The work between our two cities is ongoing — large delegations of Japanese residents visit our city every decade, San Jose State students + officials take trips to Okayama University, and San Jose-Okayama Sister Cities (SJOSC) continues to put on student exchange trips every June.

You can learn more about our sister city relationship by following the events + efforts of the SJOSC.