A blossoming friendship between two cultures

Father Paul Glynn and Lismore mayor Merv King met with Mr Yoshimi Hasegawa and his daughter Mizuka last week to mark the 30th anniversary of a friendship treaty between Australia and Japan.

Cherry blossom viewing is a national public event in Japan and to speak of blossom gazing is to appreciate this spiritual flower.

The people of Lismore might soon be able to do their own cherry blossom gazing if plans go ahead for a Cherry Blossom Festival to be held every September to strengthen the sister-city link between Lismore and Yamato Takada in Japan.

Last week the first of many such cherry trees was planted at the Lismore Council Chambers by mayor Merv King and Mr Yoshimi Hasegawa (representing Yamato Takadas mayor) to celebrate the 43-year sister-city link and the 30th anniversary of the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation between Australia and Japan, which was first signed in Tokyo on June 16, 1976.

A strong connection has blossomed between Lismore and Yamato Takada since Father Paul Glynn, a Marist priest from Lismore, first initiated the sister city idea in the 1960s, at a time when anti-Japanese feelings were still strong in Australia.

This act of friendship and goodwill, the first such relationship between any Australian and Japanese city, has resulted in annual cultural exchanges co-ordinated by the Japan Australia Centre at Southern Cross University, where over 200 Japanese students study each year.

Japan Australia Centre chairperson, Tazuko McLaren, believes an even stronger cultural and economic relationship could be forged between the two cities.

Mr Hasegawa and his daughter Mizuka were very impressed with the beauty and the people of the Lismore and Ballina areas, said Tazuko, and is interested in developing all sorts of commercial activities between the two cities.

Just recently Tabi Salad, a Getaway-style TV program, aired an episode featuring Lismore which was watched by 8 million Japanese viewers. Thats a lot of potential tourists.

Mr Hasegawa, who is president of a peanut wholesaling company, was also interested in the possibility of importing macadamia nut products to Japan.

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