The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has a sister city relationship with Karuizawa, Japan. The relationship strengthens economic and cultural ties and promotes tourism.
Whistler and Karuizawa both boast year-round tourism and a multitude of outdoor recreational activities. In addition, the two municipalities have hosted the Olympic Games. Karuizawa hosted the Summer Games in 1964 and the Winter Games in 1998, and Whistler hosted the Winter Games in 2010.
The two municipalities became the 67th pair of Canadian-Japanese Sister Cities in 1999.
The relationship involves several visits between the cities over the years. Most recently, Whistler mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden visited Karuizawa in July 2016. The Mayor of Karuizawa invited and graciously offered to host and pay for travel for the mayor and her husband to attend Karuizawa’s 90th anniversary celebration and explore their town. As part of the 90th Anniversary Celebration, Whistler’s mayor gave an address where she spoke about the Whistler-Karuizawa connection.
The mayor of Karuizawa also visited Whistler in October 2012 and spent three days exploring our community with a tour of the Cheakamus Community Forest, tree planting outside of the Meadow Park Sports Centre to commemorate the mayor's visit, tours of the Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler Olympic Park and the Squamish Lillooet Cultural Centre.
Sister City Exchange Program
Whistler students visiting Karuizawa in October 2012.
The Sister City relationship includes an annual exchange between students from Whistler and Karuizawa. The exchange provides a cross-cultural experience that explores the traditions, history, language and present day geography of both countries.
In March, Karuizawa junior high school students immerse themselves in the Whistler living experience and spend time with 10 selected youth ambassadors. In October, Whistler students have the same opportunity to experience Japanese culture when they visit Karuizawa.
The RMOW funds 50 per cent of the flight costs for the Whistler exchange to Karuizwa. The RMOW also organizes various fundraising activities. Students taking part in the program cover the remaining travel costs. Whistler families receive an honorarium for hosting Karuizawa students in their homes.