Marshall - Koka
History of Relationship
Marshall, Michigan, established a Sister City relationship with Koka-Cho, Shiga, Japan in 1984.
Believing that international understanding and appreciation would flourish in Marshall if it had a Sister City in a foreign country, a committee was formed under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Committee. After much deliberation, the committee decided to seek a Sister City in Japan.
Working with the Michigan-Shiga Sister State program, Marshall came in contact with a visiting teacher, Mr. Nakai, who indicated Koka-Cho was interested in forming a Sister City affiliation.
From August 1982 through May 1983, many letters were exchanged between the Koka-Cho assembly and Marshall’s Sister City Committee. It was apparent that agreeing to a formal Sister City affiliation was a serious commitment to the Japanese.
In August of 1984, the formal affiliation papers were signed by Marshall’s Mayor Bassage and Koka’s Mayor Yamori. After the merger of five towns into Koka-City in 2004, the Sister City affiliation was reaffirmed with a new agreement.
Since Marshall has become a Sister City with Koka, Marshall’s Sister City Committee has strived to develop a bond of friendship and understanding with Koka through the people to people exchanges.
Since 1984 town officials, teachers, business people and citizens have visited their Sister City in alternate years as part of the Michigan-Shiga Goodwill Mission. Residents of Koka City and Marshall open their homes and hearts to visitors from a foreign country and offer a homestay experience that offers a lifetime of memories and friendships. In addition, several citizens have visited their Sister City independent of the exchange program, an indication of the strong friendships that have flourished over the years.
In 2001, at the behest of Koka-Cho Mayor Fukui, a Middle School Student Exchange Program was established. Since then we have had a vibrant exchange program in place. In alternate years, selected students travel to Koka and homestay with Japanese students, experiencing a new culture and fostering new friendships. On the other years, Koka students travel to Marshall for homestays.
An Art Exchange program between Marshall and Koka-City students has been proposed, and we are currently working out the details. It’s still in its infancy, but we have great expectations for the creativity it will foster between the student artists.
Cultural Sites of Interest
Marshall boasts the largest Historic Landmark District, in the state of Michigan, featuring 19th Century homes, churches and businesses. In addition, numerous Michigan Historic Markers are located throughout the community.
The Franke Center for the Arts offers a venue for the Marshall Civic Players, a Youth Theater, and many music and cultural events.
Marshall’s many museums include the Honolulu House Museum, the Governor’s Mansion, Capitol Hill School, the American Museum of Magic, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Museum, and the Marshall Postal Museum.
The Marshall Historical Society presents an annual Historic Home Tour in early September and a Christmas Candlelight Walk in early December.
A very popular Blues Festival is held in July as well as our ‘Cruise to the Fountain’, which highlights cars driven in the 50’ and 60’s. A 4th of July celebration on Main Street boasts the best BBQ chicken and free ice cream, and before the food is served, you can sit back and watch the pet and children’s parade next to our ‘newly restored’ Brooks Fountain, on the circle of Marshall’s main street. This historic fountain was recently renovated with money collected from Marshall citizens, including a generous donation given by our ‘honorary citizens’ from our sister city of Koka-City.
City of Marshall
Established in 1830, the early settlers expected the community to become Michigan's state capitol. Thus it drew dozens of doctors, lawyers, ministers, business people and land speculators. Marshall was nominated as the state capitol in 1839 but lost to Lansing, then a village of eight registered voters, in 1847.
Two Marshall citizens, Rev. John D. Pierce and lawyer Issac E. Crary, innovated the Michigan school system and established it as part of the state constitution. Marshall was a station on the Underground Railroad and a strong anti-slavery town.
Moving into the 20th century, Marshall has been home to people who understood the importance of preservation and restoration long before it was popular. This has allowed Marshall to move with the future while maintaining its wonderful past.
Marshall is strategically located at the intersection of interstate highways I-94 and I-69, and has a population of approximately 7,500 people. It is the county seat of Calhoun County which has a population of 138,000. Oaklawn Hospital is the community’s largest employer, serving the health care needs of the Marshall area. Oaklawn recently received designation as a “Magnet Hospital,” which recognizes health care organizations that nurture and demonstrate nursing excellence. Only 5% of hospitals nationally have this designation.
City of Marshall Website: http://www.marshallmi.org
City of Koka website: http://www.city.koka.shiga.jp/english/index.html