On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of our joining as friends through the Sister Cities International organization, the City of New Brunswick will host a delegation of Japanese officials and citizens from the city of Fukui, Japan through the end of this week.
Sister Cities is an international organization that joins communities around the world for the purpose of sharing ideas and culture and cultivating friendships so that we can best learn and grow from each other. New Brunswick has four Sister Cities: Debrecen; Limerick County, Ireland; and Fukui and Tsuruoka in Japan.
New Brunswick and Fukui formalized their agreement as Sister Cities in 1982.
The delegation consists of approximately 40 officials from Fukui, including Vice Mayor Shigeru Saigyo, a longtime friend of New Brunswick who has visited our City in the past.
Fukui City officials, members of the Fukui Citizens International Association and the Fukui Junior Chamber of Commerce are also included in the delegation. Two middle school-age students from Fukui are also on the trip this as winners of an essay contest. These children will have a chance to visit the New Brunswick Middle School and meet with their contemporaries there.
In addition to the 35th anniversary of our friendship, this year also marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Kusakabe Taro to Rutgers University, a significant historical tie between our two communities.
Kusakabe Taro was a a young samurai from the province of Echizen (today Fukui prefecture), who came to New Brunswick to study at Rutgers College, now Rutgers University. He became the first Japanese to graduate from Rutgers College, the first to become a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and one of the very first Japanese nationals to graduate from an American college. Tragically, Kusakabe died of tuberculosis on April 13, 1870, only weeks before commencement and is buried in the Willow Grove Cemetery in New Brunswick along with seven other young Japanese citizens.
On Thursday, October 5, the delegation visited with Mayor Jim Cahill in Council Chambers of City Hall and participated in a Buddhist ceremony at the Kusakabe Taro grave site in Willow Grove Cemetery. They are also scheduled to visit several spots of note in New Brunswick, including Rutgers University, the Johnson & Johnson museum and the Zimmerli Art museum.
Next month, our own City officials will have an opportunity to visit Fukui, as a delegation from New Brunswick, led by Mayor Cahill, will travel there.
For more information on the New Brunswick Sister Cities Association, visit http://nbsca.weebly.com.