Sendai Delegation visits North Texas to Commemorate 25 Years of Friendship
Please see additional photos at https://jasdfw.smugmug.com/Website/n-FMJr7C/202301-Sendai-delegation-selections. If you would like to see a full gallery of specific events, please contact us at email@example.com. Photos courtesy of Robin Mallon and JASDFW staff.
DALLAS, January 30, 2023 – A delegation from the city of Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture, Tohoku Region) visited Dallas from January 17-19 to mark 25 years since the signing on an International Friendship City Agreement. The delegation included almost a dozen representatives from Sendai government, the city’s international affairs office, and the Sendai business community. Leading the group was The Honorable Kazuko KOHRI, Mayor of Sendai. This visit was also the first time in a quarter century that Sendai’s incumbent mayor journeyed to Dallas.
Sendai is building a new city-focused performing arts venue, therefore the delegation’s time in Dallas began with meetings in the Arts District. Sendai officials began with lunch at Klyde Warren Park, then ventured to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the Winspear Opera House, the Moody Performance Hall, and the Meyerson Symphony Center.
In the evening, delegates attended a reception sponsored by the Consulate General of Japan in Houston and hosted by the Crow Museum of Asian Art. Mayor KOHRI also had the honor to meet Ambassador Ronald Kirk, the mayor of Dallas at the time of the International Friendship Agreement signing in August 1997. Approximately 100 people were in attendance, including city officials, members of the DFW Japanese and Japanese American community, individuals who have played a significant role in the Dallas-Sendai relationship, and Dallas citizens who have visited Sendai in the past for people-to-people connections, youth exchanges, and the annual Sendai International Half Marathon. Long-time Japan-America Society Sendai committee chair Mark Berry and current chair Elaine Browning were among the many distinguished guests for the evening.
On the second day of their visit, the Sendai dignitaries received a tour of Dallas City Hall and witnessed democracy in action at a city council meeting. The Honorable Eric Johnson, Mayor of Dallas, also presented a friendship key to Mayor KOHRI to mark the two cities’ bond, sharing, “I know that this relationship will continue to grow in the years to come and that we will have many more exchanges in the future. Our doors are open to you as a leader and as a friend of our city.” In turn, Mayor KOHRI gifted a traditional crafted clock with her message of “Let’s mark the passage of time together.” The delegates’ visit to City Hall concluded with a Dallas Parks and Recreation meeting, in which the integration of green space into urban areas was a major point of discussion.
The Sendai delegation also extended its visit beyond the Dallas city limits to include meetings in Plano and Richardson with potential future strategic partners. It toured the Toyota North America campus to learn how Japan’s largest company operates in the U.S. and had a guided visit to Mitsuwa Marketplace, a major Japanese grocer that is owned through the Kamei Corporation, a trading company headquartered in Sendai. In Richardson, it met with Dr. Richard Benson, President of the University of Texas at Dallas. The conversation focused on the school’s position as a hub for science and technology, as well as the opening of a new culture and arts center on the suburban campus.
Large gift exchanges were part of the visit as well. Dallas had earlier sent a bronze bell, emblazoned with Texas and Dallas motifs, to be displayed by the Sendai International Center. For the January 2023 delegation, Sendai unveiled a traditional lantern in the Harwood District and adjacent to the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: Samurai Collection. The lantern is crafted from Akiu-ishi, a volcanic tuff quarried from the Sendai area. The Japanese visitors’ time in Dallas concluded with a dinner at the home of Christiana and John Stich. Christiana was an officially designated liaison between Japan and the U.S. during the signing ceremony in 1997. John has been an important part of Dallas-Sendai relations through his previous post as Honorary Consul General of Japan in Dallas (2004-2020).
This delegation was made possible by the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth with logistical and financial assistance from a wealth of community supporters, including but not limited to the following:
- For the bell’s and lantern’s creative, logistical, and financial assistance: Japan Airlines, American Airlines, Friends of Sendai donorship circle, artist Jim Moore, Takashi Doi, Dallas Japanese Association, Mark Berry, David Ball, Elaine Browning, the Dallas-Sendai committee, Harwood International, John Powell, and the staff of the Samurai Museum
- For operations and financial support of delegation activities: the Crow Museum of Asian Art, the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston, the City of Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson, and Beth Huddleston, Toyota North America, Mitsuwa Marketplace Plano, the University of Texas at Dallas, John Stich, Sam Shichijo, Mike Rosa, the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Dallas Mavericks, the Dallas Stars, NEC Corporation of America, Dallas Arts District and Lily Weiss, Visit Dallas, Hall Arts Hotel, Becky Mayad, Curtis Harris, and Ambassador Ron Kirk
A follow-up delegation is being planned for the summer to Sendai, Japan. The visits in 2023 will build the framework for future collaboration and new projects that strengthen bonds between the people of Dallas and Sendai.