Pixel Tracker

Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 1:51 pm | A Few Clouds 61º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Welcomes Toba, Japan Delegation on 50th Sister City Anniversary

Delegation visits sites around town, donates Japanese cherry blossom trees to plant in city park

Toba’s Mayor Kusuichi Kida and Mayor Helene Schneider turned a ceremonial shovelful of dirt and planted Japanese cherry blossom trees in the Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens Wednesday. Click to view larger
Toba’s Mayor Kusuichi Kida and Mayor Helene Schneider turned a ceremonial shovelful of dirt and planted Japanese cherry blossom trees in the Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens Wednesday.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The city of Toba, Japan, resides on a scenic coastline near the northeast end of the Shima Peninsula, facing the Pacific Ocean. 

Even though a one-way trip from Santa Barbara is more than 5,000 miles, the two cities have similar scenery and interests that have forged a long-lasting relationship.

“We may have difference languages, but we get around it,” said Linda Mathews, president of Santa Barbara-Toba Sister City Organization. “There’s such goodwill in the people of Toba that we make it work, despite the language barriers.”

Twenty-four delegates from Toba were introduced to Santa Barbara community members and leaders during this week's visit. 

To symbolize the 50th anniversary of friendship, three Japanese cherry blossom trees, donated by the city of Toba, were planted downtown Wednesday in the Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens at 1500 Santa Barbara St. 

The sun was shining on attendees and everyone stood side-by-side, took photos, shook hands and exchanged hugs during the ceremony.

“We don’t see them often, but when we do, it’s like family,” Mathews said.

Toba’s Mayor Kusuichi Kida and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider turned a ceremonial shovelful of dirt and planted the green trees in the park.

“It’s an honor to have this memory and to have the trees here,” Kida said. “We brought the trees so they could grow up every year and grow with the relationship between the two cities.”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sister City relationship, a delegation from Toba, Japan brought three Japanese cherry blossom trees to be planted in a Santa barbara Park. Toba’s Mayor Kusuichi Kida and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider helped plant the trees Wednesday. Click to view larger
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sister City relationship, a delegation from Toba, Japan brought three Japanese cherry blossom trees to be planted in a Santa barbara Park. Toba’s Mayor Kusuichi Kida and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider helped plant the trees Wednesday. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The Toba citizens spent Wednesday touring Santa Barbara with locals. 

They walked around State Street, the historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse and rode the trolley to the Dolphin Fountain at Stearns Wharf, which is a symbol of the partnership with Toba.

They were also hosted by Santa Barbara families at their homes, took a visit to a sea urchin factory, saw the Santa Barbara Zoo and had dinner at the University Club. The group leaves for Los Angeles on Friday.

The Santa Barbara-Toba Sister City partnership began in 1966, and since then the cities have had exchanges and offered each other help during disasters. 

A Toba delegation visited Santa Barbara in 1990 at the same time the Painted Cave Fire broke out.  

Toba citizens organized a fundraiser and donated more than $15,000 to Santa Barbara for restoration projects after the fast-moving blaze destroyed more than 600 homes and structures in the hills above the city. 

The Santa Barbara-Toba Sister City Organization raised more than $30,000 for relief when the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tōhoku unleashed a tsunami that impacted Toba, which is located 200 miles southwest of Tokyo.

The 30-foot waves created about $24 million in damages and impacted the city of more than 20,000 people, Mathews said.

“It was a big hit for them,” Mathews said. “The citizens of Santa Barbara have a good heart for the people on the other side of the globe, because of this relationship we can make new friends.”

Mathews said the two cities have a lot in common.

“We have similarities as far as the geographic location, the environment, and conservation issues, nature and we both produce world class seafood,” Mathews said. “The point is to teach local citizens about different cultures and teach Japanese citizens about Americans.”

Santa Barbara is Sister Cities with six other cities: Dingle, Ireland; Kotor, Montenegro; Patras, Greece; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines; and Weihai, People's Republic of China.

The organization of Sister Cities International dates back to 1956.

President Dwight Eisenhower proposed an idea to form a network and partnership between the United States and other countries, which led to the Sister City program.

“Eisenhower wanted a real grass-roots and person-to-person diplomacy,” Mathews said.

Schneider, who is one of many mayors and city council members who visited Toba, wrote a haiku for the tree planting ceremony. 

“Today we rejoice, Sister City friendships and commemorate,” Schneider said in her poem.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.