Before entering the Japanese Gardens, face northwest and you will see the Spokane Sister City sign at the corner of Bernard and Shoshone Place.
The Sister City program idea started in the 1940s when a coastal city in Canada paired up with a coastal city in the Soviet Union and they exchanged cultural information. President Eisenhower gave a speech at the 1956 Conference on Citizen Diplomacy where he urged citizens to take an active role in getting to know the world around them without governments to hold them back. The Sister City program was designed to help repair relationships broken during World War II. The Town Affiliation Association or Sister Cities International was officially formed in 1967.
Spokane was a forerunner and partnered with Nishinomiya in 1961. Currently Spokane has sister cities in China, Korea, and Ireland. In 1977, Spokane won an award for its involvement in the Sister City program. Spokane has a strong relationship with its Japanese sister city helped by the Fort Wright's Mukogawa Institute. The institute hosts an immersion program for Japanese women to learn English as part of their higher education. This program started in the 1990s and is still strong.
For more about the Sister City Program or Nishinomiya please visit their website, www.spokanesistercities.org.