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Local Government International Exchange

Sister City Information

Finding a sister city

CLAIR supports local governments that are trying to form sister city relationships.
If you would like to post your local government's profile on our page listing foreign local governments that are looking for a Japanese sister city (Japanese only), you can send us the information we need using the following documents:

Please contact us for more information.

Japanese local governments looking for sister city relationships overseas

Here you can find out what local governments in Japan are looking for a sister city relationship. Click on the town name or scroll down to see an overview of their region.

Local governmentPrefectureDesired Country or Region
Ibara City Okayama English-speaking country
Ujitawara Town Kyoto English-speaking countries such as USA, Canada, Australia
Nagi Town Okayama Australia, New Zealand

Ibara City (Okayama Prefecture) 

Population 39,019 (as of June 2021) Area 243.54km²
Outline of Local Government Ibara City is situated in the South West part of Okayama Prefecture, bordering Hiroshima Prefecture to the West. In 2005, a new Ibara City was born when Yoshii Town and Bisei Town merged with the original Ibara City.

In the northern part of the city is Bisei Town, which is a mountainous town with an elevation of 200-400 metres, part of the Kibi Plateau. Due to the high elevation of Bisei Town, the stars are relatively bright. In order to protect these bright stars, in 1989, Bisei Town implemented Japan's first Light Pollution Ordiance, making Ibara City famous for stars.

Furthermore, Ibara City is said to be the 'Holy grail of denim'. The denim named 'Ibara Denim' is very famous, and is even used by famous luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton. For that reason, Ibara residents are very proud of their denim.

Desired Country/Region of Exchange

English-speaking country

Desired Characteristics of Exchange Partner

A city that has a relation to either stars, or denim.

Other PR Information

【Ibara Denim】
The 'Holy grail of Denim', Ibara City is known as this due to its many denim and jeans factories. Since the 1700s, Ibara City has been an area that cultivated cotton and produced indigo died fabric. It's from the late 1800s to early 1900s that a thick indigo died fabric brand called 'Bicchu Kokura' was produced in high amounts, and was used in student uniforms and work clothes, before being exported abroad. One variation of this fabric was called 'White Back', where the inside of the fabric was white, and the outside was indigo. This was coincidentally the same as what was called 'denim' in the US, leading to Ibara City being the root of domestically produced denim. After WWII, and with the influence of American culture brought to Japan by the GHQ, production of jeans using this 'White Back' denim started. In 1970, 15,000,000 jeans were produced in Ibara (75% of domestically produced jeans).

In Ibara City, there is a town called Bisei Town, and as that name suggests, is known for its beautiful stars ('Bi'= beautiful, 'Sei'= stars'). There is a legend that a shooting star once fell in Bisei Town, showing how Bisei has a long history with the night sky above. Due to the elevation of Bisei Town being high, you can easily see the starry sky above. In order to preserve this, Bisei Town implemented Japan's first Light Pollution Ordinance to reduce light pollution at night.

【Bisei Astronomical Observatory】
The Bisei Astronomical Observatory is located in the Kibi Plateau, and boasts 360 degree views of it. The Observatory is a public observatory, which allows anyone to come and take a look through their telescopes (including a 101cm telescope). The Observatory was built in order to provide the space for anyone from amateur to specialist to come and enjoy the beautiful starry sky above.

【Meiji Gonbou】
In the Meiji Area of Yoshii Town, the high elevation of 400m, a temperate climate, and red clay soil mean that the area is great for crop cultivation. Burdock root (gobou) is called 'Gonbou' in this area, and the burdock root grown here is known by its branded name 'Meiji Gonbou'. The red clay soil of the Meiji Area is so clay-like, that if you firmly squeeze the soil with your hand, it will become a solid mass. It is a heavy soil, which is able to store a lot of nutrients, and is very stable, meaning that the plants here are grown slowly, but become very strong. Meiji Gonbou takes 2 to 3 months longer to grow than regular burdock root, as it takes full advantage of the nutritious red clay soil, making it a high quality burdock root. However, the environment for growing this crop is very harsh. As the soil doesn't drain well, you need to grow the crop on a steep slope. In addition, the size of each plot is small, so it is not possible to use large machinery for cultivation. Furthermore, as the soil is heavy, harvesting the crop is very tiring. Also, burdock root does not grow well in the same plot of land as the previous year, so there must be a 4 to 5 year crop rotation. Due to the harsh conditions for growing Meiji Gonbou, the production is decreasing, whilst the demand is increasing. As a result the price is slightly increasing year on year. Meiji Gonbou has been recognised as a 'Food Artisan' in 2017 by Aeon Retail, the first in Okayama Prefecture, and 39th nationwide.

【Denchu Art Museum】
Denchu Art Museum was opened as 'Denchu Hall' in 1969 to display the artwork of master sculptor, Hirakushi Denchu. The Museum was registered under the Museum Act in 1973, it was renamed into 'Denchu Art Museum'. The Museum is in possession of many pieces of Denchu's, such as those that he donated to local schools, those that were donated after his death, and artwork of people who had a close relationship with Denchu. Due to renovation construction, the Museum will be closed from 20th December 2020 to 31st March 2023.

Tenjinkyo is a gorge in the Oda River, which is filled with 1km of maple, Japanese fir, and evergreen oak trees. With the changing of the seasons, you can experience a whole different view, from the famous autumn foliage, to the summer where kids play in the river. It's a great place for families to enjoy nature.

【Ibara Embankment】
Famous for its sakura (cherry blossoms), the Ibara Embankment is place where Ibara's citizens relax. The Embankment is especially beautiful during the 'Ibara Sakura Festival', where the sakura are lit up with lanterns in the night, creating a fun atmosphere where families can enjoy the sakura together.

Ibara City is one of the areas that produces grapes in West Okayama. A variety of grapes are cultivated both in greenhouses, and outdoors, and depending on the elevation and type of grape, they are able to be harvested from late July up until December.

Date Modified July 2021

Ujitawara Town(Kyoto Prefecture)

Population 9,270(as of September 1 ,2019) Area 58.16 square kilometers

(including 43.76 square kilometers of forest)

Outline of Local Government

Ujitawara town is located in the southeastern part of Kyoto Prefecture , within a 60-minute drive from Kyoto and
Osaka. A town blessed with refreshing water and rich greenery has long flourished as the main production area of Uji tea , and was the birthplace of Japanese green tea , which was formulated in the middle of the Edo period.

Ahead of the opening of the Shinmeishin Expressway in 2023 , the town is proceeding with the construction of a
new government office building and the development of a road network. We are working to create a bustling city
that takes advantage of the history and tradition of tea making.

Desired Country/Region of Exchange

English-speaking countries such as USA , Canada , Australia

Desired Characteristics of Exchange Partner

We want to have an exchange where children and students can interact with each other's culture.

Other PR Information 【Ujitawara town introduction Video】

【The birthplace of Japanese green tea

The green tea that Japanese people drink on a daily basis is said to have originated in the Yuyadani area of Ujitawara town.

In 1738, Soen Nagatani, who runs the tea business in Yuyadani, developed a method for producing
green tea with excellent color, taste and aroma over the course of 15 years. The tea that the common
people drink has turned into a historic turning point, changing from brown crude to delicious green tea.

【Soen Nagatani's birthplace

At the birthplace of Soen Nagatani in the outskirts of Yuyadani, you can see the remains of the roasting
furnace that was restored from the birthplace and used to make tea leaves. In addition to this birthplace,
the townscape of Yuyadani, where beautiful tea plantations spread out and tea wholesalers and tea
farmers line up, is registered as a Japanese heritage certified by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

【Soen Friendship Yantan】

Opened in June 2018 as a tourism exchange base in Ujitawara town, the birthplace of Japanese green tea.
Residents of Yuyadani working on regional revitalization operated this facility. In addition to tourist
information and highlights unique to local residents, there are plenty of charms of Ujitawara, such as a tea experience program and sales of local products.

【A row of cherry blossom trees along the peaceful road

Near the cherry blossoms along the Tawara River that runs through the center of town, there are nearly
300 cherry trees planted, and a stunning cherry tunnel appears in early April. There is a light up at night, and you can enjoy cherry blossom viewing at night.

【Heart town】

The shape of Ujitawara town is heart-shaped. City promotion is carried out as a "city of hearts" where
the peace of rich nature and the warmth of people nurtured by tea culture are overflowing.
A temple in the Okuyamada area, Shoju-in, which was built about 800 years ago, has a "Inome window"
in the shape of a heart. Events such as the wind chimes festival held in summer are very popular and are crowded with many tourists.

Date Modified Dec 2019

Nagi Town (Okayama Prefecture)

Population 6,000 Area 69.52km2
Outline of Local Government

Nagi is a town abundant with art and nature, located in northeast
Okayama Prefecture in the Chugoku region of Japan, bordering
Tottori Prefecture to the north. Nagi's main industries are
agriculture and forestry, and the town is well-known for its
Yokozen Kabuki, a form of traditional Japanese theater, in addition
to the local art museum. It is also host to the Japanese Ground
Self Defense Force Camp Nihonbara. In order to deal with its
decreasing population, in 2012 Nagi Town announced its
Declaration for Childrearing Support and currently maintains a high
birth rate due to the town's childrearing measures, drawing wide
attention domestic and abroad.

Desired Country/Region of Exchange Australia, New Zealand
Desired Characteristics of Exchange Partner Educational exchange with our junior high school.
Other PR Information Welcome to Nagi (introductory video)

Nagi MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Working from a base proposal by famed architect Arata Isozaki,
winner of the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize, Nagi MOCA is made
up of three installations that are both elements of the museum's
structure and art works in their own right. Pushing the established
conceptions of what it means to experience art, we invite you to
explore the manipulation of shape and light, to take a moment to
reflect and meditate.

Yokozen Kabuki (traditional Japanese theater)

Continuing a rich tradition since Edo-era Japan, Nagi's Yokozen
Kabuki is recognized as an important intangible folk culture asset
of Okayama Prefecture. Distinctive and dramatic, kabuki has long
been a Japanese icon. If you're in the area at the right time,
seeing a show first-hand in Nagi is an unforgettable experience.
Kabuki performances take place across the year, with the highlight
show taking place in autumn over two days.

Bodaiji Ginkgo Tree
The large ginkgo tree at Bodaiji Temple, nestled up in the
mountainside of Mount Nagi, is recognized by the national
government as a natural monument and a prefecture-wide symbol
for Okayama. According to legend, the influential Buddhist reformer
Honen planted the tree when he began his initiation as a monk,
following his statement that 'learning begins from the roots'.
40m tall and 13m wide, the Bodaiji Ginkgo Tree is one of the
Yomiuri Shimbun's Top 100 Famous Trees of Japan for good reason.
Watching the passage of time for 900 years, the tree stands with an
unmatched presence, all the more alive for the years it has passed.

Mount Nagi
Nagi takes its name from the nearby Mt. Nagi (1255m). Affording
a breathtaking view of the area from the top of the mountain and
serving as a backdrop for daily life in the town below, Mt. Nagi's
majestic presence draws eager trekkers all year round. Designated
as a national park, Mt. Nagi is a showcase for the diversity and
beauty found in Japan's changing seasons. Starting with spring's
new life, the landscape turns to a brilliantly rich green in summer,
which in turn sets alight with autumn colors. Culminating with
snow-clad winter vistas, the mountain is a sight at any point of
the year.

Nagi Beef
Nagi Beef is an exceptionally high-grade wagyu beef that has found
its way into fashionable restaurants around Japan. And for good
reason: the breeding and care of Nagi Beef has been refined over
many generations, along with the pedigree of calf to cow. Recently,
Nagi Beef has been recognized at the Wagyu Beef Prize Show,
coming in at 2nd place nationwide.

Nagi Vikarya Museum
Built to the shape of a shell, the museum exhibits the now-extinct
vikarya (bikaria), a relation to today's sea snail. Fossils from
50 different species are presented across 300 displays, and
outside you can dig for actual fossils from 16 million years ago.

Date Modified Jan 2020
For Enquiries
International Exchange Division
Tel : +81-3-5213-1723
Fax : +81-3-5213-1742
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