Mayor Katsumaru Katsui of Ikeda addresses the crowd in the Ikeda Japanese Garden on Sept. 4. He and 16 other delegates are visiting Penticton to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their sister-city friendship. Jordyn Thomson/Western News

New garden plaque commemorates 40-year friendship with sister city Ikeda

The plaque was unveiled in the Penticton-Ikeda Japanese Garden on Sept. 4

The 17 visiting Japanese delegates from Penticton’s sister city of Ikeda spent the morning enjoying the garden they helped found.

“Through (Ikeda’s) initiative, a partnership has grown between our two cities and the outcome over 40 years is this most beautiful garden,” said Councillor Judy Sentes, at a special ceremony held on Tuesday. “Together, we have created this garden which is, in fact, a legacy for future generations.”

The Penticton-Ikeda Japanese Garden, located behind the Penticton Art Gallery, was opened in 2005 as a result of the partnership. It has been cared for over the years by the volunteers with the Japanese Garden Committee and on Sept. 4, a new plaque was revealed to commemorate the friendship.

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the Ikeda and Penticton sister city friendship. More than 30 exchanges to and from Japan have taken place in that time. In May 2017, nine delegates representing Penticton toured to Japan to start the 40th year celebrations.

Related: Penticton renews an old friendship

Multiple delegates gave speeches at the unveiling on Tuesday, including former mayors of Penticton, current mayor of Ikeda, Katsumaru Katsui, and Sentes.

“This is our 15th visit to Penticton. I am so pleased to be greeted by (all of) you here, it has been two days and I have been treated so well,” said Katsui via a translator. “Looking at this park, I think that it is better than some parks in Japan.”

The chestnut wood sign hung above the entrance to the garden was sent from Ikeda in 2005 and the Japanese characters inscribed were designed by Katsui.

“I hope this sign not only welcomes but provides happiness to the garden visitors,” said Katsui. “I sincerely hope our long-lasting relationship will last into the future.”

The Japanese Garden Committee also presented the delegates with a painting as a thank you for inspiring the creation of a Japanese garden within the city.

Related: Mayor’s Minute: A visit to our sister-city Ikeda

According to Sue Harvey, a volunteer with the Japanese Garden Committee, each time the Ikeda delegates have visited Penticton since the garden was built, they bring volcanic stones from their home to place within it.

“It’s symbolic, and it’s kind of a fun thing as well. So I am so glad they brought some again,” said Harvey. “We’re going to place them around (the plaque).”

The delegates arrived on Sept. 2 and will enjoy three busy days of cultural and economic tourism in the South Okanagan thanks to the Penticton-Ikeda Sister City Society. Both cities are similar due to their flourishing industries based on wine, tourism and agriculture.

The civic dinner will take place Sept. 5 aboard the SS Sicamous, commencing at 6 p.m. A limited number of tickets to the dinner are available at Penticton City Hall.

It is anticipated that Katsui will be presenting their “city to city” gift at this dinner, at which point the City of Penticton will do the same.

For those interested in learning more about the Penticton-Ikeda Sister City Society, please contact info@pentictonikeda.org.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter

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