Coffs Harbour's relationship with Sasebo
2013 was the 25th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Coffs Harbour and the Japanese city of Sasebo who signed a sister city affiliation in 1988. The two cities have enjoyed a close relationship ever since 1953, through student exchanges with the Seiwa Girls College in Sasebo. In 1983, the Japan-Australia Society of Sasebo was established, while the Australia-Japan Society of Coffs Harbour Inc was set up in 1990.
The local Australia-Japan Society was formed to assist the growing links between Japan and Coffs Harbour at a community level. In a voluntary capacity, the Australia-Japan Society aims to support Coffs Harbour City Council with its sister city relationship and help make Coffs Harbour the most friendly place for Japanese to visit in Australia.
Both the Australia-Japan Society of Coffs Harbour and the Japan-Australia Society of Sasebo have enjoyed the support from each level of Government in their respective countries and mayors from each city have traditionally been the patrons of their respective societies. Since the sister city agreement, each of the parties involved have tirelessly pursued the strengthening of cultural, social, educational and commercial exchange.
Benefits of the sister city relationship
Although the non-commercial benefits have brought immeasurable value to the citizens involved in the relationship, there are also commercial benefits of the affiliation. In addition to the local spending by the regular visitors from Sasebo, the export of education services by Coffs Harbour to Japan is now very well established.
Japanese students coming to Coffs Harbour to study make a direct financial injection into Coffs Harbour by paying their homestay families a weekly rent, as well as paying tuition fees and through other local spending. There is a ripple effect into other Japan-related business opportunities. To this extent, the sister city arrangement is a very worthwhile incubator of these other opportunities.
With organisations such as Coffs Harbour City Council, the Australia-Japan Society and various educational institutions in Coffs Harbour carefully ensuring the integration of Japan-related activities with the local community, we are setting the groundwork for a prosperous, desirable and sustainable relationship with Japan.
The very worthwhile non-commercial benefits of the relationship include fighting racism in the local community, inspiring arts, technology and cultural exchange and developing an international mindset of the local community.
Visits by delegations traditionally there have been delegations from Japan every other year, and a delegation from Coffs Harbour in the following year.
In the past, members of the delegations to Sasebo have included various citizens of Coffs Harbour, who fully self-funded their visit. In 2003, Coffs Harbour received a delegation of 13 officials, including the deputy Mayor of Sasebo, for a three-day cultural and business exchange. The visit coincided with the 15th anniversary of the Coffs Harbour and Sasebo Sister City relationship.
Student exchange visits
While university students from Japan have been coming to Coffs Harbour to study for many years, an exchange program for middle-school students aged 13-15, organised by the two councils, started in 2004. That year, three students from Sasebo attended John Paul College and three students from John Paul College in turn visited Sasebo later in the year. In 2005/2006, the exchange involved Toormina High School and in 2006/2007, the exchange was between Atago Middle School and John Paul College. In 2013, the exchange was be between Nakazato Middle School and Bishop Druitt College and in 2014 between John Paul College and Shimizu Middle School.
The exhange program has now been extended to five students and in 2015 it was between Bishop Druitt College and Ainoura Middle School who visited Coffs Harbour in August 2015. In 2016 the exchange program is with students from St John Paul College and Shimizu Middle School.
Redevelopment of the Japanese section of the Regional Botanic Garden
Under the guidance of officers from our sister city in Sasebo construction of timber decking for the Waterside Deck and the Waterside Pavilion will be the most prominent feature within the Japanese Garden and will provide a special place for social events. The Zen Garden and Contemplation Pavilion are also a feature of the update of the garden with the completion of the placement of large rocks, which were sourced from a quarry in Baraba.
The rocks are full of character and wonderfully textured and provide a unique focal point. The implementation of the Zen Garden follows the architectural plans of Mr. Tazo, developed during a workshop in 2008.
The completed garden will consist of the Japanese Garden – Contemplation and Gatehouse Pavilion, Wisteria Viewing Terrace, Covered Walkway, walkway linking Waterside Pavilion with Gatehouse Pavilion and two entry statements.
This project, features unique aesthetic qualities of Japanese garden design and after four years of volunteer work and local fundraising is nearly complete.
Our Sister City Sasebo have also made a donation of several stone lanterns for placement in the garden.
Sasebo City's population of approximately 240,000 makes it the prefecture's second largest city after Nagasaki City. One of Sasebo City's most attractive features is the incredible ease with which one can experience the surrounding natural environment.
The Kujukushima Islands in Saikai National Park are just a 20-minute drive from the municipality's urban district. And for those who prefer less aquatic pursuits, camping and hiking are with easy reach in an area with soaring mountain peaks, also only about a 20-minute drive away.
Situated at the westernmost tip of mainland Japan, the Kujukushima Islands are designated as a national aquatic park within the greater Saikai National Park area. Said to be the most densely concentrated clustering of islands in Japan, the many scenic delights presented by the dynamic shapes and deeply embayed shorelines of this chain of 208 isles, which extends 25km from outside the Port of Sasebo and across the ocean to Hirado Strait.
Unfolding in southeastern Sasebo City is Huis Ten Bosch, on a vast site occupying 1.52 million square meters where a sprawling town composed of 17th century buildings recreates the streets of old Holland. Crisscrossed by water canals, the town features museums, art galleries, entertainment facilities, hotels, vacation homes, and a variety of shops and restaurants.