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Buffalo and Kanazawa, Japan: oldest Sister Cities relationship in America

Dr. Takako Michii, president of Buffalo-Kanazawa with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown
Photo from Buffalo-Kanazawa Facebook page
Dr. Takako Michii, president of Buffalo-Kanazawa with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown

Buffalo is celebrating its 50th anniversary with its sister city in Japan, Kanazawa. 

Celebrations begin Thursday night in Washington, D.C. then move to Buffalo next week with a series of events.

WBFO & AM-970’s Eileen Buckley spoke to the local president of Buffalo-Kanazawa about the relationship between two cities that share some similarities.

The relationship between Buffalo and Kanazawa is the oldest, continuous Sister Cities relationship in America.         

“Ours is 50-years old, so we are very proud of that,” said Dr. Takako Michii, president of Buffalo-Kanazawa.

For over 50-years we have exchanged people and in the area of the arts, cultural education and business and we really get to know each other well.”

In 1956 the U.S. Sister city program was inspired by a proposal from President Dwight Eisenhower proposed.

“He knew who important it is for peace in the world. People to people, diplomacy is more important than the government level,” said Michii.

But Buffalo actually 18-sister cities, and in Michii’s words that makes it a "very international” city.

“So we are striving very hard to keep peace in the world,” said Michii.

23-members from Kanawaza are headed for Buffalo.  First, they make a stop in the Nation’s Capital Thursday night to begin the celebration with at the Japan, Bowl at the 100th anniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. 

Then April 15th a kick-off event will be held at Buffalo's Saturn club, followed by a large celebration on the evening of Tuesday, April 17th at UB’s Center for the Arts featuring “East Meets West”, he Noh Japanese Classical mask Theatre, the world’s oldest theatre to perform.

“It is a very rare occasional exquisite occasion,” said Michii.  “Noh is an ancient Mask theater. 400 years ago it was created in Japan.”

Michii said Buffalo and Kanazawa have similarities.

“Near the water, Kanazawa faces the Japan Sea,” said Michii.  “In sense the old cultural and preservation. They mix new and old together and take the lead into the future century…Kanazawa is very famous for that.”

At the end of May, representatives from Buffalo will actually travel to Kanazawa to mark the 50th anniversary.

“And to sign the renewal of the agreement between Buffalo and Kanazawa,”  said Micchii.  

Dr. Michii noted that a sister city relationship is never political and purely promotes a positive relationship between the two cities separate by thousands of miles.

“Politics is not involved at all,” said Michii.  “Nothing to do with quote unquote politics.  It’s the people to people.”