Stronger Link With Japan: Hiratsuka Has Enriched the Ranks of Kaunas’s Sister Cities

Kaunas, Lithuania, has solidified its seventh-year partnership with the city of Hiratsuka, Japan, through an official twinning agreement. The mayors’ signatures confirm the commitment to further develop mutual ties and exchanges in sports, education, and culture, fostering the exchange of positive experiences. This marks the fifth agreement between Lithuanian and Japanese municipalities and the second such collaboration for Kaunas.

During a recent visit to Kaunas, Mayor Katsuhiro Ochiai of Hiratsuka expressed his honor at the twinning and anticipated future exchanges between the two cities. The partnership has enriched Kaunas with Japanese culture, evident in monuments like the one dedicated to diplomat Chiune Sugihara, annual Japanese-themed events, and the tradition of planting cherry blossoms throughout the city.

Collaborative projects between Kaunas and Hiratsuka students, such as the joint creation “Wings of Freedom” and a flash mob called Tabanata Odori, highlight the active cultural exchange. Both cities actively promote each other’s cultures and histories through events like “Lithuanian Week” in Hiratsuka and exhibitions representing Kaunas in Japan. The partnership emphasizes the significance of sharing knowledge in education, culture, sports, tourism, urban development, and international activities.

The ceremonial exchange of symbolic gifts between the mayors at Kaunas Castle included a graphic artwork by Egidijus Rudinskas featuring Kaunas’ modernist architectural landmarks for the Japanese guest and a piece showcasing the Tanabata Matsuri festival for Kaunas. With this agreement, Kaunas joins a select group of four Lithuanian cities twinned with Japan: Klaipėda-Kuji, Panevėžys-Toyohashi, Birštonas-Kaga, and Kaunas-Yaotsu, the latter signed in 2019.