Sasebo: Our sister city

Map showing location of Sasebo near the southern tip of Japan

The Japanese city of Sasebo and Coffs Harbour have enjoyed a close relationship since 1953 when student exchanges began with the Seiwa Girls College in Sasebo. The two cities signed a sister city affiliation in 1988. 

The Japan-Australia Society of Sasebo was established in 1983 and the Australia-Japan Society of Coffs Harbour Inc was set up in 1990 to support the sister city relationship and help make Coffs Harbour the most friendly place for Japanese people to visit in Australia. Both societies have enjoyed support from each level of their respective governments, and mayors from each city have traditionally been their patrons.

Since the sister city agreement, both have tirelessly pursued the strengthening of cultural, social, educational and commercial exchange.

About Sasebo

Situated at the westernmost tip of mainland Japan, Sasebo City has a population of approximately 240,000 making it the prefecture's second largest city after Nagasaki City.

Sasebo, like Coffs Harbour, is located in a beautiful natural environment. Just 20-minute's drive from the city are the Kujukushima Islands, a national aquatic park within the greater Saikai National Park area. This densely concentrated cluster of 208 islands present many scenic delights with their dynamic shapes and deeply embayed shorelines.

Another attraction located in southeastern Sasebo City is Huis Ten Bosch, a sprawling town of 17th century buildings recreating 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.

Visit Japan's tourism website to find out more about visiting Sasebo.


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.

For further information about the exchange program call City of COffs Harbour on 02) 6648 4000

Japanese Garden at the Regional Botanical Garden

The Japanese Garden at the Regional Botanical Garden was constructed under the guidance of officers from our sister city in Sasebo. 

A waterside deck and pavilion provide a special place for social events, while the zen garden and contemplation pavilion feature large rocks from a quarry in Baraba. The rocks are full of character and wonderfully textured and provide a unique focal point.

The zen garden follows the architectural plans of Mr. Tazo, developed during a workshop in 2008. This project, features unique aesthetic qualities of Japanese garden design. Our Sister City Sasebo have also made a donation of several stone lanterns for placement in the garden.

Benefits of the sister city relationship

The relationship between our cities has brought immeasurable personal value to the citizens involved, as well as creating many commercial benefits.

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.

City of Coffs Harbour, the Australia-Japan Society and various educational institutions in Coffs Harbour all nurture Japan-related activities with the local community, 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 in the local community.