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Sister Cities


City by the sea: Abundant with Greenery and Flowers

Richmond's Sister City in Japan

Wakayama Student and Teacher Delegation visit to Richmond
Wakayama Student and
Teacher Delegation
visit to Richmond 
Richmond and Wakayama have had a long history as Sister Cities, and both cities continue to engage in activities promoting cultural exchanges through a variety of channels, particularly in the area of youth exchanges. Recent exchange activities included the Wakayama Children’s Choir  visiting and co-performing with the Richmond Youth Honour Choir, as well as the annual exchange program co-organized by School District #38 and Wakayama City.

The year 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of Richmond’s Sister City relationship with Wakayama, Japan. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, a delegation from Wakayama visited Richmond in early November 2012. The delegation included Mayor Kenishi Ohashi, Vice Chairperson of the Wakayama Council Ms. Hiroko Nojima, and members of the Wakayama City Council. In addition, official tree planting in Steveston and a ceremony in the City of Richmond’s Council Chambers were held to celebrate the milestone.  

Other visits between Richmond and Wakayama included:

  • Spring 2012 - A Richmond delegation of six, lead by two councillors, visited Wakayama to discuss the November 2012 visit of a Wakayama delegation to Richmond. As well, discussions took place with Japanese naval officials regarding possible future visits to Richmond by Japan’s two Class A tall ships, the Kaiwo Maru and Nippon Maru.
  • March 2011 - Richmond sent support for Japan earthquake and tsunami victims.
  • January 2010 - Steveston hosted the Japanese Speed Skating Team for the Olympic Winter Games.
  • July 2009 - Visit of Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan to the Richmond Olympic Oval.
  • Spring 2008 - A 35-person Wakayama delegation visited Richmond in recognition of the 35th anniversary of the cities' twinning relationship. During this visit, the delegation toured the Richmond Olympic Oval and the BCIT Aerospace Campus. An official tea ceremony was held at Richmond City Hall to mark the anniversary followed by an official dinner.
  • May 2005 - Expo 2005 Official Delegation to Wakayama led by Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
  • April 2002 - All Japan Flower Competition; official delegation to Wakayama led by Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
  • May 2000 - Opening of the new Richmond City Hall; official delegation led by Mayor Tabita and Chairman Hirosho Iguchi. Dedication of the Wakayama Memorial Garden.
  • May 1996 - Opening of the YVR International Terminal Building; official delegation led by Mayor Yoshiro Ozaki.
  • May 1992 - Wak Matsuri Festival Parade in Richmond. First time celebrated outside of Japan to honour the 20th Twinning Anniversary; 300 delegates from Japan, led by Mayor Tabita.
  • May 1987 - Visit of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Takamada
  • July 1979 - Opening of Wakayama City Hall; official delegation led by Mayor Gill Blair.

Richmond community aids Wakayama after devastating tsunami
On March 11, 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Thankfully, Wakayama was not directly affected.

Through many efforts of Steveston (Richmond) community members, along with Richmond’s Sister City Advisory Committee and Wakayama City, Richmond community members were able to assist the small fishing village of Onogawa (which itself is much like Steveston). Before the disaster, Onagawa was a village of 11,000. The earthquake and tsunami left only 5,000 survivors. Many of these survivors are children.

More information is available at:
Comfort Quilts Created for Children of Onagawa, Japan

Wakayama City
Wakayama City, is located in Wakayama Prefecture in south-central Honshu Japan. The largest city in the Prefecture, Wakayama City is the site of the Prefectural Government. In addition to being the local centre of cultural and economic activities, Wakayama is one of the major cities in the Kinki District. It is one hour by express train from Osaka and two hours from both Kyoto and Nara. It has had Sister City Relationships with Bakersfield, U.S.A. since 1961, with Richmond, Canada since 1973, with Jinan, China since 1983 and with Cheju Korea since 1987.

Wakayama Castle, Wakayama JapanThe historical significance of Wakayama is seen very clearly when one visits the Kimiidera Temple with its National Treasures, the Castle in the centre of the city, and the sea coast around Wakanoura.

Wakayama Prefecture is a major tourist area with seascape beaches and many attractions.

Industrialization of Wakayama Prefecture is confined largely to the northwest, where Wakayama City and the neighbouring City of Kainan are located. These cities are part of the Hanshin Industrial Zone. Major products include petrochemicals, textiles, iron, and steel.


View Map

Wakayama is located in the estuary of the Kinokawa River on the northwest side of the Kii Peninsula, at lat. 34.14 N. and long. 135.10 E. It has the greenish Izumi Mountain Range at the North and the natural beauty of the Kitan Channel,  at the West.
Land Area: 207.51
Population: 450,000 people, 200,000 households
Climate: Normally, it is mild with a few rainy days.
Average temperature is 16 C (up to 34 C, down to -0.6 C) 1989
Average humidity is 70%
City Flower: Azalea. As it is a native wild plant in Wakayama City, it's very much familiar to people living there. With the approach of every spring, the azaleas start to bloom their white, red and pink flowers.
City Tree: Camphor Tree. It is an evergreen and long life tree which is typically huge among the species. Its growing power symbolizes the prosperity of the city.

Location Map

Wakayama Location Map

Establishing a Sister City Relationship

Discussions regarding twining the City of Richmond with Wakayama City in the early 70's. Initially, there was some hesitation on the part of Wakayama City officials due to the fact that their City was much larger than Richmond. They suggested a twinning with a smaller City in that Prefecture. However, there was a strong desire to twin with Wakayama City. Almost 75 per cent of Richmond's Japanese population had immigrated here from Wakayama Prefecture.

Younger members of the Japanese Community in Steveston join July 1st Parade
Younger members of the
Japanese Community in
Steveston join July 1st Parade
The first immigrant from Wakayama Prefecture was Gihei Kuno from the village of Mio. He came in 1887. He did so well fishing that he encouraged others from his village to follow him. More immigrants came here from Wakayama in 1888 to fish the large salmon runs.

A Wakayama delegation arrived in Richmond in 1973. The community welcomed them with an evening of Japanese entertainment, tours and meetings with community leaders. Both sides were impressed with what took place and Wakayama City agreed to the twinning.

What followed was several years of visits by Wakayama people to Richmond. Local residents welcomed these visitors into their homes and assisted them during their stay.

The first exchange between our cities resulted in the establishment of a Karate club. Wakayama Mayor, Shozo Ujita, a 9th degree Karate Black Belt, sent an instructor to help establish the club at the Steveston Martial Arts Centre. The Centre has been built with the support of the local Judo and Kendo clubs.

Since the official twining in Richmond, in 1973, Richmond has hosted several delegations and sent representatives on visits to Wakayama. Warm relationships have grown between the citizens and leaders of our two communities.

For more information on Wakayama please visit: