Taking Montevallo to Japan

Published 1:08 pm Friday, July 11, 2008

Catherine Legg / Community Columnist

MONTEVALLO – Representatives of Montevallo’s Sister City Commission recently visited Echizen Town, Japan with the goal of reinforcing the friendly relationship between the two cities.

Mayor Sharon Anderson, University of Montevallo professor Ted Metz and UM staff member Jim Farris were welcomed and royally entertained by Echizen Town’s Mayor Seki and his administration.

The itinerary was a very busy one. There were meetings and dinner parties hosted by city officials and other dignitaries. Echizen Town is well known for its unique pottery giving the visitors a unique opportunity to tour Echizen Pottery Village and many other artistic offerings and museums.

Anderson said about 60 city employees welcomed them with smiling faces and applause. She said they asked the mayor specifically about traditional oriental customs.

“I was impressed with their hospitality,” Anderson said. “We were offered refreshment and green tea everywhere we went. The dress was mostly western, but we saw a few kimonos. We did sit on floor cushions for one dinner but for the others we had regular chairs.”

She also mentioned that Shoes were removed and slippers supplied in the shrines and temples. The travelers were also taught to bow just slightly as the Japanese do when introduced to others.

The two cities have a 13-year history of cultural and educational exchanges that have created a strong bond of friendship. Beginning in 1995, when Japanese potters came to UM as workshop leaders for the Alabama Clay Conference, there have been exchange visits to both cities by middle-school and college students, teachers, citizens and government officials for learning and enlightening experiences.

Referring to this most recent visit by the Montevallo representatives, Anderson said, “We think that we made significant advances in developing the relationship that will benefit both communities by recognizing and understanding the similarities and differences in the two cultures,” she said. “This was another positive step in the direction of establishing a formal “Sister City” relationship.”

A fall trip is planned for a visit to Montevallo by Mayor Seki, his tour director and other members of his administration. Presently there are seven Echizen Town middle school students and their chaperones in Montevallo for a week’s visit. They are staying in the homes of members of the Sister City Commission.

Catherine Legg can be reached at mailto:clegg2@bellsouth.net