The two cities joined into a sister city relationship on July, 1986. Omihachiman is located on the southeast sideof the largest fresh water lake in Japan, Lake Biwa. We celebrated a ten year union in 1996 by sending delegates to Omihachiman and since then have had their mayors and other delegates visit us. Our sister city committee communicates and coordinates activities with their sister city committee.
Middle and high school exchanges have been established between the two cities since the inauguration and include both public and private schools. Art projects and journal writings have been exchanged. Students exchanges happen each year with host families sharing daily experiences and culture of their area. Students stay for about two weeks. Teachers join as supervisors and are able to learn from the educational settings. Schools have created opportunities for teachers to teach in each other's school setting.
Other exchanges have included city government visitations. Omihachiman city supervisors have worked within the Grand Rapids governmental structure for several months at a time to gain knowledge and information. The same type of exchanges have occurred in the medical profession with nurses working in the hospitals.
We actively promote the Goodwill Mission project and enjoy building friendships through the exchanges between our two cities. These friendships have grown over the years with repeated visits and pen pal letters exchanged with each other.
The city of Grand Rapids is working to promote a Japanese garden at the Meijer Gardens, which already displays Leonardo da Vinci's horse created by sculptor Nina Akamu. There are several excellent Japanese restaurants to tantalize the taste buds of those seeking wonderful food and atmosphere.
Grand Rapids is a city of 200,000 people located 40 miles east of Lake Michigan and 60 miles west of Lansing. Although the city use to be known as the furniture capital of the world, it is now more diverse in manufacturing and other areas of the business world. The largest growth has occurred in the medical field and has expanded into the downtown area known as the Medical Mile. There are several large facilities to house conventions, sports, and entertainment attractions. The downtown bustles with night time entertainment spots and restaurants. Many farms surround the town growing crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, blueberries, apples, and peaches. There are also many dairy farms within a short distance from town.
Grand Rapids offers a large public school system and several private or religious based schools. These schools present many different learning environments including excellent academics, visual arts, music and drama, technology, and sports. Several colleges and one university are also located in our city. There are several smaller cities surrounding the city of Grand Rapids.
City of Grand Rapids Website: http://www.grand-rapids.mi.us
City of Omihachiman Website: http://www.city.omihachiman.shiga.jp/category_list.php?frmCd=22-0-0-0-0