TOYOKORO - OUR SISTER CITY
Summerland and the Japanese city of Toyokoro officially became Sister Cities in
1996. Eleven years before that, Summerland developed a Sister City relationship
with Toyosato. When this community amalgamated, Toyokoro became our Sister
Toyokoro is located on Japanï¿½s northern island of Hokkaido. It has a population
of 3,845. Just 15 kilometers to the south is the city of Ikeda: Pentictonï¿½s
Sister City. This relationship was established in 1976. Pentictonï¿½s Ross
Axeworthy has played a central role in our Sister City Agreements for thirty
years. Summerlandï¿½s David Huck also played an important role in the early
development of the agreement. Summerland has been extremely fortunate to have
Darlene Forsdick and Lorrie Forde continue these efforts in Summerland. Also
involved with our Sister City Committee has been Sharon Marchant and Kim
Mackereth. Of course a central figure in our community has been Chico Inaba,
our translator. It is through the dedication of these people that this program
has been such a success.
The Tokachi River divides Toyokoro into two sections of land. The main business
side of the river is called Moiwa and the farming side of the river is
Toyokoro. This community is most noted for its daikon radish. Other crops
include buckwheat, red Adzuki beans, corn, cabbage and potatoes. The community
has a cattle industry and a modern dairy facility. Culturally an important
tradition of Toyokoro is the Taiko drums. This energized presentation includes
massive drums. On one occasion the Taiko drum ensemble visited Summerland to a
packed audience at JR Centre Stage Theatre.
Just like Summerland, Toyokoro was founded in the same year 1906. Toyokoro was
founded by an individual named Ninomiya from southern Japan. The area of the
district consists of 536.52 km2. (Summerlandï¿½s is 72 km2). With the protection
of the Hidaka Mountain Range, this section of Hokkaido does not get the
extremes of weather like other parts of the island. Winter temperatures can dip
to -25 C. Average annual precipitation is 10cm of rain.
Similar to Summerlandï¿½s Fall Fair, Toyokoro celebrates a Harvest Festival.
There is also a Mountain Bike Race in October and a Salmon Marathon in
September. At these community celebrations Toyokoro does feature Summerland
products such as Summerland wines and a favorite, Summerland Sweets products.
In the hills above Moiwa is a ï¿½Park Golf ï¿½facility. Summerlandï¿½s Sister City
Ambassador Lorrie Forde has become an expert park golfer.
During our Centennial year and the celebration of our tenth anniversary of our
Sister City agreement, both communities exchanged visits. The Japanese
delegation arrived in Summerland in time to help celebrate Canada Day. In
September a group of approximately 20 Summerlanders visited Toyokoro. This
included Mayor Gregory, Councillor Roberge, Director of Finance Ken Ostraat and
Summerland Royalty Queen Victoria Derosier and Princesses Tiana Savage and Aly
Kennedy. The whole Summerland group received a royal welcome. Toyokoro is noted
for their hospitality and the visit was nothing short of spectacular.
Toyokoro is recognized for its ï¿½Harunire Elm Treeï¿½. This tree is actually two
trees that have grown together into a perfected symmetrical and balanced form.
It was a great honor for the community and the Summerland delegation to plant a
graft of the Harunire Elm Tree as a gesture to celebrate our Sister City
Over the past ten years there have been frequent visits by citizens of both
communities. A primary focus has been on our young people taking a prominent
role in these visits. In these past ten years, Toyokoro has sent a delegation
to Summerland annually. For the most part, Summerland has sent a delegation
every two years. Summerland has also sent ï¿½Assistant English Teachersï¿½ to
Toyokoro. As of 2007, we have sent four teachers.
As a tradition when the two communities meet, there is an exchange of gifts.
There are gifts on behalf of the communities and on behalf of the Sister City
societies. Also the Mayors of the two communities exchange personal gifts. In
Toyokoro the two mayors, it turns out, exchanged the exact same gift, a
photograph of them both on a scooter!
With our Sister City relationship now lasting over ten years, there has been a
strong bond between friends and families. These friendships have had a profound
impact on many of our lives. As the bond between our two communities grows
stronger, the dream of Ross Axeworthy and Darlene Forsdick have become a