A Cultural Sisterhood

The city of Bellevue is currently paired up with four sister cities. For forty years now, one of its sister cities has been Yao, Japan. On Wednesday July 29, BC will be hosting a special Japanese film night in commemoration of this anniversary.

Hugh Burleson, President of the Bellevue Sister Cities Association for the last four years, said this film is a perfect example of the ongoing cultural exchange between Bellevue and its sister. “The delegation from Yao” said Burleson, “will be spending four days in the greater Seattle/Bellevue area.” The mayor of Yao, despite the tireless efforts of Burleson and BC’s own Nora Lance, will not be able to fit the film showing into his itinerary.

“The sister cities association” said Burleson, “is part of much larger worldwide movement to help supplement the kind of ties we otherwise have with countries abroad.” Each affiliation is separate and autonomous between pairs of cities. Bellevue’s three other sister cities are Hualien, Taiwan; Kladno, Czech Republic (just northeast of Prague) and Liepaja, Latvia. Each affiliation has the goal of stimulating cultural and personal exchanges.In Bellevue, one of the biggest components of the sister city program is student exchange. “High school students, in the summer time, will study in our respective sister cities…and likewise serve as host families when students from our sister cities come to Bellevue, this has been going on for almost forty years now.” Delegation exchanges are another big part of the program, city council members and other public officials of Bellevue will travel to their respective sister cities.

“On our end” explained Burleson, “we have our own programs, mostly fundraising as we are a non-profit organization, so fundraiser is more a burden for us as we are always low on funds.” The aligning of these two cities was sort of a happenstance, 42 years ago, the junior chamber of commerce had a convention in Bellevue and a delegate from Yao named Fujii, attended and was taken with Bellevue, he began actively began campaigning and pushing for establishing a sister city relationship.

The Film that will be shown at BC is not a direct commemoration of the 40th anniversary, it is a drama set in Tokyo around 1958, when Japan as a whole was still trying to pick itself up by the bootstraps after the devastation of WWII. The Film serves a as a real slice of Japanese life at the time, a cultural time capsule that has won 12 awards at the Japanese Academy Awards, including best picture, director, actor and screenplay.

if you would like to see the film, the showing is free and open to the public, although seating is limited to the first 100 people, parking is free and the screening will begin at 6:30 PM sharp.