Hino and Shiwa
Today, January 30th, marks the first-year anniversary of Hino becoming sister cities with Shiwa, an agricultural town in Iwate Prefecture. You may have heard the term before, but what is a “sister city” anyways?
With no one single definition, the meaning can be a bit nebulous! Just like real sisters, each sister city relationship has a personality of its own. That being said, developing friendship between distant cities is one of the most common objectives. When two cities mutually agree to become “sisters,” they act as distant relatives or penpals would, keeping in touch, teaching each other about the local culture, and being a sort of home away from home.
Hino took its first dive into sister city relationships back in 1963 when it became sister cities with Redlands, a city in Southern California. Over fifty years later, Hino formed its second sister city bond with Shiwa.
The spark for Hino and Shiwa’s sister city relationship was a poet named Tatsumi Seika. Seika, best known for writing the verses to the children’s song “Takibi,” was born in 1905 in what is now Shiwa Town. After a life of writing poems and song lyrics, Seika passed away in Hino in 1973. Though Seika is no longer with us, the two cities he called home still regard him as a dear local legend.
Tatsumi Seika’s influences remain throughout Hino and Shiwa. For example, Shiwa holds a festival each year in celebration of Seika’s works. Moreover, both cities have monuments commemorating the poet, engraved with his poetry for passersby to read. Shiwa’s monument features “Minakuchi,” while the monument in Hino, pictured above, features the first verse of “Takibi.” The lyrics to “Takibi” paint a portrait of a warm little campfire on a cold, blustery day. You can hear the song play as the train melody for Hino’s JR Toyoda Station.
While Tatsumi Seika is what brought Hino and Shiwa together, the cities have found several common interests beyond the beloved poet over the course of the year. One of these is local wining and dining! Both cities are attentive to the environment and are rich with agriculture. If you look around stores in Hino, you can find fruits, rice, and wine from Shiwa on display right along with locally grown produce and Hino’s own historic Toyoda Beer.
Hino’s relationship with Shiwa has still only just begun, but if Hino’s fifty-years-and-running sister city bond with Redlands is any indication, I’m sure we can look forward to a long, “fruitful” partnership!
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Industry and Sports Department, City Promotion Division
Phone (Direct Line): 042-514-8098
Phone (City Hall): 042-585-1111
Address: Hino City Hall, 3th Floor
1-12-1 Shinmei, Hino, Tokyo 191-8686
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