Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fort Wayne’s First Sister City

Fort Wayne’s First Sister City
by Michael Rice, 200@200 Intern

When most people in Fort Wayne hear about “Takaoka,” they say “Yeah, Hall’s Restaurant!” The name comes from our sister city in Japan. We started our relationship with Takaoka through Sister Cities International in 1976 for America’s Bicentennial.  It was interesting for me to find out Fort Wayne also has three other sister cities: Plock, Poland; Gera, Germany; and Taizhou, China. Takaoka, however, was our first foreign friendship and shared cultural interest.
Crews hang objects for the Sister Cities exhibit at the Fort Wayne Botanical Gardens

               Sister Cities International was created by President Eisenhower to help foster bonds between people all across the world. This organization has over 2300 partnerships in 150 countries on six continents. The partnerships have allowed many communities to create strong bonds and overall make the world even smaller.        
Exhibits Coordinator, Jessie Cortesi handles an artifact for the exhibit

               Takaoka is located in the northwestern part of Toyamo, which is centrally located in Japan, located on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Like Fort Wayne, the majority of the city is comprised of residential housing, office buildings, commercial facilities, agriculture, and public property. Takaoka in addition has large forests and some mountains.

When Takaoka and Fort Wayne first met they exchanged gifts. We received beautiful kimonos, plates with inlay, traditional masks and many other items. Even the hand made boxes in which the items were shipped, could be considered artifacts themselves with the intricate joinery, fine wood, and fine finishes with hand written Japanese language characters. We use quality boxes as well here at the History Center, but those are winning with style. I love woodworking so I was just as intrigued with the containers as I was with the contents.

               The 40th year anniversary is upon us this year and the Fort Wayne Botanical Gardens will be using some of the Fort Wayne History Center objects that came from Takaoka for an exhibit.  Our bond with Takaoka is special and hopefully the cultural exchange will encourage our cities to understand each other a little better and foster the strong friendship for many years to come.                      

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