Sakura Festival by Su Neko
The Sister Cities of Toronto series has provided you with a quick guide to the cities of Quito and Chongqing so far. Today, I’d like to focus on another city included in the Friendship Cities category, which mostly deals with a community-driven intercultural exchange between the engaged cities (the concept was fully explained in one of the previous articles). This city is Sagamihara, Japan.
Sagamihara proved that it easily fits the candidate criteria for a friendship city and officially became one of these sister cities of Toronto in 1991. Ever since, it has shared closer cultural ties with the city of Toronto, including an exchange of delegations and joining in common talks on serious global issues, and organizing common cultural events such as art exhibitions and concerts of national artists from one country to the other. Another fairly important gesture of friendship is a flag-raising ceremony staged at city hall whenever there is a date of significance to the other city.
Sagamihara by Patrick Gookin
Sagamihara is a city neighbouring Tokyo. Japanese cities are well-known for being widely spread out on large areas more or less blending into one another. It is located in the Kanagawa territory in north central Japan on the Honshu Island. In 2010, the city was inhabited by about 712,000 citizens, but there is a different eye-catching basic figure about Sagamihara: it has a striking population density of 2,170 persons per km², which tells us a lot about the perfect use of space in the urban area.
If you decide to visit this magnificent metropolis, you may be surprised to find out that the locals’ selection of its most interesting sights includes almost exclusively places linked to nature. Try visiting one of several lakes within the city borders, such as Shiroyama Lake, Lake Okusagami, or Tsukui Lake, or taking a walk in beautiful parks such as Sagamihara Prefectural Park or Kanuma Park. It is generally agreed that these places are best seen in spring, when thousands of cherry blossoms (sakura) are in bloom. The Japanese organize picnics and parties with their friends and family under the beautiful pink petals of the cherry trees, practicing an ancient tradition called Hanami.
Koinobori in Sagamihara
Concerning the historical monuments in the city, Myougen Temple is probably the most prominent place worth seeing. It was built in the 16th century and represents classical Japanese architecture. Other points of interest are the Tanamukaihara ruins from the later Palaeolithic era, which are the oldest excavated ruins in Japan, allegedly 20 thousand years old. Visitors can also learn about the history of the place in a nearby museum.