Deepening Bonds with Japan: Kaunas Enriches Sister City Network with Hiratsuka
Paskelbta: 2023-12-01 (Friday)
Kaunas strengthened its partnership with the city of Hiratsuka in Japan by formalizing the seven-year-long relationship through an official cooperation agreement. The mayors’ signatures solidified the commitment to further develop mutual connections and experiences in the fields of sports, education and culture. This marks the fifth agreement between municipalities in Lithuania and Japan, and a second such collaboration for Kaunas.
“In writing, we officially confirm the establishment of sister cities. I hope that we can leverage the experience gained in educational exchanges to further develop collaboration in other areas. I believe that by learning from each other and sharing positive experiences, we will grow and strengthen our ties. It is a great honor for me that Hiratsuka is now officially a sister city to Kaunas,” said Katsuhiro Ochiai, the Mayor of Hiratsuka, during a ceremony at Kaunas Castle.
Japanese culture has become an integral part of life in Kaunas. This is evident in the monument to diplomat Chiune Sugihara standing on Laisvės Avenue, annual events by Kaunas students, as well as celebrating ‘Japanese Days’, and the beautiful tradition of planting cherry blossoms in the city spaces.
The municipality of Hiratsuka also pays significant attention to introducing Lithuanian culture and history. Several events under the theme ‘Lithuanian Week’ have taken place, featuring photo exhibitions representing Kaunas, informative Lithuanian language lessons, and other activities.
“For a friendship of two nations, thousands of kilometers is no obstacle. This is evident in the long-standing partnership between the cities of Kaunas and Hiratsuka. We share a considerable commonality with the Land of the Rising Sun – historical events, prominent figures who once lived in Kaunas, and artistic accents adorning the streets. Kaunas has much to learn from the rich Japanese experience, and I believe we can reciprocate in many ways,” emphasized Visvaldas Matijošaitis, the Mayor of Kaunas, regarding the significance of the partnership between Kaunas and Hiratsuka.
According to him, the exchange of experiences is crucial for improving education, culture, sports, tourism, urban development, city management, and international activities.
During a ceremony at Kaunas Castle, the leaders of Kaunas and Hiratsuka exchanged symbolic commemorative gifts. The guest from Japan received an artwork by artist Egidijus Rudinskas, featuring images of modernist architectural objects that characterize Kaunas. The miniature of the Vytautas the Great monument will serve as a reminder of his visit to Lithuania and the sister city, Kaunas.
Hiratsuka’s gift to Kaunas is a piece printed using the Japanese KINPAKU gilding technology, depicting the festival “Tanabata Matsuri,” which celebrates this city in the Kanagawa Prefecture.
Until now, only four Lithuanian cities had twinning agreements with Japan: Klaipėda-Kuji, Panevėžys-Toyohashi, Birštonas-Kaga, and Kaunas-Yaotsu. The latter agreement was signed in 2019.
Information by Public Relations Department