Visit acknowledged 20-year anniversary of partnership and gave opportunities to learn from Karuizawa’s visitor experience
Mayor Jack Crompton returned from a visit to Karuizawa, Whistler’s sister city in Japan, after a four-day official visit in recognition of the twenty-year anniversary of the two municipalities’ sister city relationship.
The visit included a welcome dinner, traditional tea ceremony and a Yusugenotsudoi community celebration. The Mayor visited Shirato Waterfall, Onioshidashi Volcanic Park and Mount Asama. There was also a ceremonial unveiling of an Inukshuk designed by students who had taken part in the Sister City Youth Exchange program between Whistler and Karuizawa. The Inukshuk has both Whistler’s and Karuizawa’s logos on it and celebrates the twentieth anniversary.
Karuizawa’s Mayor Susumu Fujimaki and delegates visited Whistler in July and took part in Whistler’s Canada Day celebrations. The delegates took part in a tree planting ceremony, joined the Canada Day celebrations, visited the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, the Audain Art Museum, Whistler Public Library and the Whistler Blackcomb resort. A plaque was also unveiled in Whistler Village along the creek in Village Park East celebrating the sister city anniversary.
"Whistler and Karuizawa’s sister city relationship offers opportunities to learn from each other, and share cultures and traditions,” said Mayor Jack Crompton. “The Sister City Youth Exchange offers grade 8 and 9 students from Whistler and Karuizawa an enriching cultural learning experience.”
The sister city relationship with Karuizawa, which began in 1999, 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.
“Karuizawa has been a tourism destination for centuries and has developed unique ways of doing business, in particular I was struck by Karuizawa’s innovative visitor experience. Their initiatives include an annual weekend of learning, investment into recreation facilities and an architecturally impressive wellness experience,” said Mayor Crompton. “In turn, Karuizawa has been inspired by Whistler’s Valley Trail network, farmers market, and municipal investment in skateboarding and cycling infrastructure.”
The two municipalities became the 67th pair of Canadian-Japanese Sister Cities in 1999. Karuizawa is Whistler’s only sister city, and Whistler also has a Friendship Pact with the French mountain resort area Les Deux Alpes.
The Sister City relationship includes student exchanges between Whistler and Karuizawa. The exchange provides a cross-cultural experience that explores the traditions, history, language and present day geography of both countries.