A Story of Loyalty and Integrity
Fullerton Sister City Association has had an established sister city relationship with Fukui Japan since 1989. Our members were excited to visit Fukui to celebrate the 30th anniversary in March 2020 when the world suddenly shut down. Our delegates were a week away from a trip of a lifetime. Plans were set, deposits were made, and everything was ready.
Instead, we suddenly found ourselves locked in our homes instead of traveling the world. Our hosts were just as disappointed as we were.
Over the next three years, we were uncertain of the impact of the pandemic. There were many false starts as we thought the world was opening again. We were close to following up on the travel requirements, and once the restrictions were lifted, we made arrangements promptly. Dr. Stephen Tsai and his wife, Mimi, worked hard to communicate and maintain the trip arrangements with the delegation and overseas travel agency.
In the end, 26 delegates could participate in representing our city on this excursion. Our group was made up of a “melting pot,” much like our country. We had Americans of Romanian, Hungarian, Cuban, Japanese, Croatian, Slovenian, German, Polish, British, and Taiwanese descent. Our delegation consisted of doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, teachers, artists, CEOs, engineers, business owners, and entrepreneurs. Our group successfully represented our diversity. We represented well!
The pandemic devastated the international travel industry, and many companies were no longer in business. However, our hosts had never given up hope that we would come. Since the restrictions were lifted, we were the first group of tourists to go to Fukui. We were grateful that the travel agency was able to accommodate our arrangements.
Upon our arrival in Fukui, we were greeted with a warm welcome from the staff, who also accompanied us on a wonderful discovery of our sister city. From March 16th through the 26th, the trip’s goal was for the delegation to experience Japanese culture, food, and scenery.
We visited the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and Fukui during the ten days. We saw world heritage sites, including Mt. Fuji, temples, shrines, and modern shopping malls. We tasted genuine Japanese delicacies such as sushi, sashimi, tempura, and Kobe beef and learned to make mochi.
In addition, we experienced a traditional tea ceremony, Japan’s hot spring baths, and even a Zen experience led by a Monk. “Sakura,” or cherry blossom trees, are one of the highlights of a spring trip to Japan. When we arrived, we could see those bare branches with dark pink buds and hoped they would bloom before we had to leave. As the days passed, we started to see glimpses of the buds opening and, on occasion, saw some trees with beautiful white and pink flowers.
One day before our return near the river bank and parks, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Providing us with a wonderful backdrop to beautiful pictures and lasting memories. It was time to say farewell to this amazing country. This trip, initiated by two cities separated by various time zones but united in friendship, cultural, educational, and professional interests, was well worth the wait and a delightful experience.