Sister Cities

 

Takasaki, Japan

Since ancient times Takasaki has prospered as a city lying on a major transportation route. Currently, the Shinkansen Express connects the highway with a nationwide road network and as a transportation center just 50 minutes from the suburbs of Tokyo is also an important trading center. As one of the few regional cities Takasaki boasts its own symphony orchestra. Takasaki is surrounded by beautiful mountains and visitors will appreciate the numerous thermal baths, which are ideal for rest and relaxation. A typical souvenir is a good luck Daruma doll.

CITY LEADERSHIP

Mayor: Kenji TOMIOKA

City Assembly: 46 members

Advisory Commission City Council: 4 (areas: education, construction, economy, general affairs, including international relations)

HISTORY

Archaeological discoveries of ancient settlements near Takasaki have indicated that the area was inhabited as early as 1400 years ago. During the Edo period (1600 - 1860) in Takasaki, thanks to its position as a castle stronghold, it became a center of trade and with a growing population . The original township was granted town status in 1900. After World War II, the town continued to grow as an industrial center with an extensive transport system.

The center is focused on industrial production and bustles with business activity, while the suburbs of Kurabuci offer peace and quiet, as well as natural beauty. A number of concerts, amusement parks, festivals and other cultural events offer residents countless opportunities to relax and to be entertained in a variety of ways

GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY

LOCATION: Prefectures (REGION): Gunma

Takasaki is located on the Kanto plain on the island of Honshu, about 100 km north of Tokyo ...boundaries between Saitama and Nagano prefectures and over 100 km from the famous center of winter sports in the foothills of the Northern Japanese Alps, Nagano, a place which recalls the legendary triumph of our Czech national hockey team at the 1998 Olympics.

In the area, there are several high peaks / former volcanoes: Haruna (to the NW) with a crater lake and hot springs (used as a spa), Akagi (elev.1828 m, to the NE), Myoga (elev.1423 m, to the SW).

AREA: 460 km2

POPULATION: 370,000
In January 2006, the city of Takasaki merged with the cities of Gunma, Misato and Šinmaci, as well as the village of Kurabuci, and in 2009 it annexed the city of Yoshi. The population thus increased from 240,000 to the current 370 000.

CLIMATE:
- Annual average temperature of about 14° C (7,8° C Pilsen)
- Average annual rainfall of about 1400 mm (495 mm in Pilsen)
- In the surrounding mountains, 2 m of snow in winter is common.

ECONOMY

The manufacturing of dolls for good luck: DARUMA dolls

The Japanese wine sake (rice wine and water) is produced exclusively using traditional Makino. The water, which is extremely important in the production of sake, comes from springs in the Haruna Mountains that give Takasaki sake its traditional and harmonious flavor.

Products from Japanese plums: plum wine, plum juice and pickled plums. Takasaki is number one in eastern Japan in the production volume and acreage of plum orchards.

Wheat products:

- Special UDON noodles, which are popular for their flexibility and softness and are an important ingredient in one of the typical Japanese soups

- IKIRIKOMI, which is made with thick wheat noodles, white radishes, sweet potatoes and other vegetables, is another Japanese specialty.

Products colored with natural dyes

Healthfood products - Company: Otsuka

ECOLOGY

It is necessary to make difficult reinforcements of banks by rivers and streams in an area with steep slopes, unstable rocks and high rainfall. Instead of using concrete bank reinforcements, grass surfaces combined with stone steps are being implemented. They are accompanied by walkways along the river. In this flat city many people ride bikes, all (even narrow)paths are divided into lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.

EDUCATION

University of Economics with faculties of economics and regional policy (2700 students)

Schools for lower and middle education

Emphasis in Takasaki is placed on environmental education. There are various forms of child-rearing that lead to an understanding of nature and the environment (knowledge of nature, work in city forests and forest parks, stays in log cabins in city forests with equipment for games, as well as planting  seedlings, doing forestry work, etc.). It continues with the preparation of young  candidates for voluntary work in nature conservation, parks, etc.

CULTURE AND TOURISM

MUSEUMS: Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art prefecture (works of Chagall, Monet and local artists Yuasa Ichiro, Ichiro Fukuzawa and Kaoru Yamaguchi, regional (prefectural) Museum of History

GALLERY: The Takasaki City Gallery

THE TAKASAKI CULTURAL CENTER: planetarium, a children's science museum, public library, cultural hall, community center offering numerous activities, including English classes and monthly meetings that are organized by The Organization for International Relations. The Japanese are even interested in the Czech language, so Czech are offered, based on the availability of tutors.

MUSIC:
Gunma Philharmonic Orchestra - Philharmonic Orchestra of the Gunma Prefecture

Gunma Music Center –The Gunma Prefecture Music Center is the home of The Gunma Philharmonic Orchestra

The Yorimasa Daiko Ensemble - a unique group of Japanese drummers, who perform composed pieces using choreography, stories and light shows. They use a variety of drums, from small drums and  traditional taiko drums to huge drums, which are played (with considerable physical effort) with sticks the size of baseball bats. The ensemble performed on the square in Pilsen in 1996 and attracted thousands of visitors to its impressive performance.

HOT SPRINGS - the area is known for its therapeutic thermal springs.

SPORT

Softball, rugby, baseball, athletics, tennis, football, archery, martial arts (Kendo, Aikido, Karate, etc.), volleyball, handball, boxing, basketball, badminton, fencing, etc.
Many facilities for different kinds of sports.

ATTRACTIONS

TRADITIONAL JAPANESE ART COLORING USING NATURAL DYES
Specialized botanical garden with an exhibition of art coloring with natural dyes and opportunities for the public to learn the art of dyeing with natural dyes. –the first Japanese botanical garden of its kind, 15,000 trees and plants, . From these it is possible to extract natural fabrics for dyeing that have been used in different periods throughout history dye and batik materials and wool. The garden is part of the park Kannonyama (Kannon - Goddess of Mercy).

KANNONYAMA a large forest park with a statue of the Goddess Kannon-a viewing  tower,Shintao Buddhist temples, rock galleries, a traditional Japanese garden, Sakura grove, an educational bird trail, with a network of trails and a suspension bridge, with an entertainment center (Ferris wheel, carousel, etc.),shopping area with traditional Japanese products and restaurants.

The statue of the goddess Kannon, the goddess of mercy, is 42 meters high. Inside, there are 20 statues of Buddha.The statue also serves as a viewing point of the town and its surroundings. You can climb up to its shoulders.

DARUMA DOLLS
One of the best-known products from the city of Takasaki is the Daruma doll, which is said to bring good luck. Japanese entrust them with their wishes and paint the left eye black. If the wish comes true, they express their thanks by painting the right eye black as well. The main feature of the Daruma Dolls is eyebrows in the shape of a crane and a mustache depicting a turtle. The crane and tortoise are symbols of longevity.

More than 1.2 million are produced annually, while 80% of them are sold domestically.

Daruma dolls are already in the hands of many Pilseners, who repeatedly visited the Takasaki stand at the International Tourism Fair ITEP in Pilsen in 2006, 2007 and 2008 or participated in the opening of Days of Japanese Culture in Pilsen in 2007 and received a doll as a gift. Large half-meter tall Daruma dolls were donated by the city of Takasaki to the city of Pilsen and the Pilsen Region.

Every year on 6 and 7 January, THE SHÓRINZAN DARUMA ICHI FESTIVAL is held here, along with a doll market by the SHÓRINZAN TEMPLE. The temple is the CENTRE OF THE DARUMA TRADITION - Bodhídarma (an Indian propagator of Zen Buddhism in China, from where the tradition spread to Japan). Shórinzan temple monks read sutras 24 hours and pray for world peace.  Several hundred thousand visitors come to see this place. In the temple, two large statues with inscriptions about the fulfilled wishes of prime-minister candidates from Takasaki who then won elections (the recent  Prime Minister of Japan from 2008 Mr. Fukuda comes from Takasaki) are deposited here.

THE NEW CITY HALL BUILDING
In May 1998, a new municipal office building /city hall /, which captivates with its height, its modern appearance, and easy access to citizens. The city of Takasaki is attempting to build an international community based on the harmonious coexistence of city residents with the natural environment. The building is situated and designed to handle frequent and heavy winds. It is situated in a former castle. On the top floor is an observation corridor featuring drawings of various views of the city, as well as a restaurant. The building has a meeting room for the emergency task force , from where it is possible to monitor the current situation far and wide using cameras mounted on the roof (with the possibility of zooming in perfectly on the place to be viewed ), meeting rooms and lounges for visitors and citizens‘ meetings with the mayor,  counters open to the public and offering access to trade union office space, a huge vestibule the ground floor with a projection wall that constantly shows  informative films and sometimes small concerts. There is also a permanent exhibit about Takasaki‘s partner cities.

TRADITIONAL SISTER CITIES EVENTS

6th and 7 January
- Shorinzan Daruma Ichi Festival: Festival market with well-known idols / Daruma dolls for good luck

February
- Festival of plum / Misato ume matsuri

March
- Festival of plum blossoms / Haruna ume matsuri

End of March
- Takasaki Film Festival

Beginning of April
- Shinmachi Festival of blossoming Sakura trees

5th May
- Fun mountain climbing on Tsunoochiyama Mountain

End of May
- Mystic Japanese Traditional Music Concert / Music stage of the Haruna Temple

Last Sunday in July
- Summer Festival Misato Furusato natsu matsuri

Last Saturday and Sunday in August
- Summer Festival Takasaki-matsuri

Early October
- Takasaki "live" festival - Takamatsu-cho district

First Sunday in October
- Minowa no sato - Festival " fox marriages"

End of October and beginning of November
- Music Festival

November
- Thanksgiving to Takasaki Ebisu - god of wealth and trade
- Commercial and Agricultural Festival

Other festivals:
- International Festival
- Traditional theater takigi-feet
- Festival of marching bodies

SUMMER in Takasaki culminates each year with the AUGUST SUMMER FESTIVAL TAKASAKI-MATSURI
A parade of festival vehicles and portable temples passes through the town and is accompanied by traditional music and shouts of encouragement. The evening sky is lit up by fireworks along the banks of The Karasugawy River. The city comes alive with portable saints (Mikoshi), traditional floats (DASI), and a traditional music festival (Ohajaši).

CITY PARTNERS OF TAKASAKI

  • Battle Creek (USA)
  • Santo André (Brazil)
  • Chengde (China)
  • Pilsen (Czech Republic)
  • Muntinlupa (Philippines)

HISTORY OF THE PILSEN – TAKASAKI PARTNERSHIP

The Kirin Brewery in Takasaki and the brewery in Pilsen have long-lasting technical and economic relations. The agreement to establish a partnership between the two cities was based on this fact. The partnership agreement was signed on August 1, 1990.

Cooperation takes place mainly  through a series of cultural events, exhibitions and performances in both cities:

- In Takasaki: numerous very successful performances by The Alfa Theatre, puppet workshops, tours by The J.K. Tyl Theatre, performances by the large  Pilsen Conservatory Wind Orchestra, guest Czech musicians playing with the Gunma Symphony Orchestra, an exhibition of Czech glass and decorative arts;

- in Pilsen: A concert by the unique group of Japanese drummers called Yorimasa Daiko in Pilsen, an exhibition featuring Japanese artists in Pilsen: artist Mr.Okamoto and Mr.Issui Yamamoto  - calligraphy, artist Hisako Ymai and Reiko Seki - a textile exhibition called "Dyeing Art", an exhibition of children's drawings from the Takasaki in the PilsenTown Hall as well as the Paletka Gallery, and Days of Japanese Culture in Pilsen (2004, 2007).

With regard to cooperation in environmental matters, one of the main pillars of cooperation is the hexilateral (participation 6 cities) environmental exchange program. It began in 1995 as the Pentalateral program and in 2006 expanded to include an additional, sixth new member- Muntinlupa City,the Philippines. The project was approved by the mayors of six cities (Takasaki, Japan; Santo André, Brazil; Battle Creek, USA; Chengde, China; Pilsen, the Czech Republic and Muntinlupa, Philippines) and extended for the period from 2008 - 2012. It was agreed that the Hexalateral program would be organized annually in these cities, according to the following timetable: 2007 in Chengde, 2008 in Santo André, 2009 in Plzeň, 2010 in Muntinlupa, 2011 in Battle Creek, and 2012 in Takasaki.

Another effort that showed respect and true partnership was a fund drive by residents of Takasaki to help repair the damages incurred by the Pilseners as a result of floods in 2002.

USEFUL LINKS

Published: 2017-11-30, Martin Pecuch