Welcome to the City of Port Townsend
Sister City Program
- Students 2015 Visit to Port Townsend
- Celebrating 10 Years of Friendship
- Pictures of our Sister City Visit
Answers to our most frequently asked questions:
How and why was your organization created?
The Port Townsend Sister Cities Friends was formed in 2002 to support the activities of the cultural, educational and the person to person exchanges between Port Townsend and Ichikawa Japan. The City of Port Townsend is the formal signer on the agreement and does participate in the exchange.
The restrictions of Washington State law prevents the City from paying for things such as gifts, parties or activities for our Sister City. The Sister Cities Friends is an organization, in which the City is a member, who can solicit membership, collect dues, and receive donations to pay for gifts and sponsor activities.
What does your name mean?
We saw a broader mission of expanding the exchanges to include residents living in the East Jefferson County area. The "Port Townsend" in our name refers to the fact that the City of Port Townsend has the formal relationship, but this does not exclude membership for people that live outside the city limits. The” Cities” portion of our name leaves the door open for exchanges with other cities.
How often do the exchanges take place?
When we signed the agreement with Ichikawa in 2002, there was an informal understanding that Ichikawa would visit Port Townsend one year and Port Townsend would visit Ichikawa the next. Ichikawa has always timed their visit in May, more specifically during the Rhododendron Festival. Our group typically visits Ichikawa during the Fall. Japan is especially beautiful that time of year and the weather is temperate.
How long do you stay in Japan? Do you visit other cities?
As a group we stay in Ichikawa for 3 or 4 days. Most of us have opted to stay with host families. We have booked flights as a group to receive a discount and stay in Japan about 10 days. (Some members have booked their flights separately because they wanted to stay a longer or shorter time, wanted to book their flight with frequent flyer miles, or wanted to add additional cities to their trip.)
As we plan for our trip, some people make arrangements with other members in the group to travel together according to their interests. Once we complete our visit to Ichikawa, members head off to their chosen destinations and meet back for the flight home. Each trip has been different according to the needs and desires of the participants.
How many people are in the delegation?
We have had as few as 6 and as many as 20 participants. We like to limit the number who want to stay in homes with Japanese host families (homestay) in Ichikawa to no more than 20.
Do we have to stay in someone’s home? Can we stay in a hotel?
No you don’t have to stay in someone’s home. However, the experience of staying in a home and being hosted by a family is so enriching we strongly recommend it.
What does it take to host a guest from Ichikawa?
It requires a willingness to share your home and hospitality. Before our Sister City’s visit, we receive a list of delegates, a short biography of each and a list of those who wish to homestay. We try to match up guests and hosts according to age or interests. We plan many group activities in which the hosts are encouraged to participate. We also like to allow some free time for hosts and their guests to pursue their own interests.
The activities need not be costly or elaborate. It can be a visit to one of the many art galleries or parks, a walk along the beach or shopping downtown. Many of our visitors have requested to visit the local grocery store. They are curious to view our every day life.
What about the language barrier?
Many of our visitors speak at least a little English. It is helpful to learn a few words of Japanese just to make them feel more welcome. You’ll be surprised how far a few words and many hand gestures will go. We do have members who speak Japanese and are available during their visit. There is always someone available in case of an emergency.
What else do you do?
Our group has participated in or sponsored many other activities in the community to promote cultural awareness. We have participated in the student exchange and a Japanese Cultural Night sponsored by the schools. We sponsored a large event with over 400 people to mark the 40th anniversary of Washington’s Sister State relationship with Hyogo Japan. We sponsored the Amaji Lion Dancers who gave a performance on the Union Wharf. We have held an artist competition to commission art work as a gift to Ichikawa and have a booth at the County Fair to promote cultural awareness. As our group develops and grows we hope to offer more activities and opportunities to expand cultural exchanges.