Maui News

County of Maui commemorates 15 years of Sister City relationship with Fukuyama, Japan

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Mayor Bissen and First Lady Isabella Kaʻihikapulani tour the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum with Deidre Tegarden, Executive Director of the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center in Wailuku, who served as Japanese interpreter and protocol officer. Mie Tokunaga,a Japan tour guide, leads the group during the museum tour. PC: County of Maui

The County of Maui commemorated the 15thanniversary of its Sister City relationship and lasting friendship with the people of Fukuyama City, Hiroshima, Japan when Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen traveled there to meet with city dignitaries.

He also joined in the Rose Parade at the 56thannual Fukuyama Rose Festival, which was held for the first time in four years at Bara Koen or Rose Park, according to a county news release.

Mayor Bissen and First Lady Isabella Kaʻihikapulani wave to crowds along the route of the Rose Parade, an annual tradition following the opening ceremony for the 56th annual Fukuyama Rose Festival. After jokingly announcing that Mayor Bissen would have the “best taxi driver” for the parade, Mayor Edahiro surprised his cityʻs guests and drove the parade vehicle himself, with First Lady Masumi Edahiro in the front passenger seat. Members of Japanʻs Hālau ʻOluʻolu accompanied the vehicle. PC: County of Maui

At a welcome luncheon for the festival, Fukuyama City Mayor Naoki Edahiro described how residents planted 1,000 roses with their own hands in their gardens and small flower beds along the streets to recover from the devastation of the post-war era. Now, with over 400 rose beds throughout the city, Fukuyama is known as the City of a Million Roses. “Truly, the rose has become a symbol of peace and recovery for Fukuyama,” Mayor Edahiro said.


Mayor Bissen played the ʻukulele and sang “Haleakalā” while First Lady Isabella Kaʻihikapulani Eleneki Bissen danced the hula, and then Mayor Bissen performed the Japanese song “Koko No Sachi Are” before presenting the ʻukulele that was handcrafted at Mele ʻUkulele in Wailuku to Mayor Edahiro.

  • First Lady Isabella Kaʻihikapulani dances hula while Mayor Bissen plays the ʻukulele and sings “Haleakalā” for Fukuyama City Mayor Naoki Edahiro at Fukuyama City Hall during the cultural exchange. PC: County of Maui
  • Mayor Bissen and Fukuyama City Assembly Chairman Hisato Kumagai greet each other during a visit at Fukuyama City Hall. PC: County of Maui
  • Okayama Prefecture Governor Ryūta Ibaragi points out the location of possible future Sister Cities while talking with Mayor Bissen. PC: County of Maui
  • Mayor Bissen and Mayor Edahiro share a light moment after Mayor Bissen presents Mayor Edahiro with the ʻukulele handcrafted by Mele ʻUkulele in Wailuku. PC: County of Maui
  • Mayor Bissen presents a poi pounder, crafted by students of Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke in Hāna, as a gift to Okayama Prefecture Governor Ryūta Ibaragi. PC: County of Maui

In Hiroshima, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, Mayor Bissen met with Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who is President of Mayors for Peace. Mayor Bissen said he and Mayor Matsui agree that “we should co-exist in peace in our own cities and own countries and within countries throughout the world” to create a culture of peace.

After touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Mayor Bissen laid a wreath at the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb, which holds the names of those killed by the bomb, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Mayor Bissen lays a wreath at the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, while First Lady Isabella Kaʻihikapulani looks on. PC: County of Maui

In another meeting, Mayor Bissen presented a poi pounder to Okayama Prefecture Governor Ryūta Ibaragi during preliminary discussions about a potential Sister City relationship with a city in the Bizen region. Mayor Bissen noted that Sentaro Ishii, a samurai who was among Gannenmono or “First-Year People” as one of the first immigrants from Japan to Hawaiʻi in 1868, married a Hawaiian woman and settled in Hāna. The poi pounder was created by students of the nonprofit Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke in Hāna. Sentaro Ishii was from Bizen, which is part of Okayama Prefecture.

Mayor Bissen said Sister Cities have a valuable role for our islands in establishing and sustaining strong business, cultural and educational relationships. Through diplomacy and international exchanges such as these, “We learn more about each other and in the process, we learn about ourselves,” he said.

Maui County was governed by a Board of Supervisors in 1956 when Sister Cities International was created under President Dwight Eisenhower to promote diplomacy through global relationships. In the late 1950s, the County Board of Supervisors had informal Sister City relationships before formalizing relationships in the 1960s.

A view of the city of Hiroshima from Hiroshima University of Economics. PC: County of Maui

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