Sister City Program Coordinator
Phone (501) 545-6960
Fax (501) 321-6809
Sister City Program
The sister city relationship between Hot Springs and Hanamaki, Japan officially began on January 15, 1993, after a group of Hanamaki residents combed the United States and found Hot Springs to be a perfect fit. Since then, many friendships, greater understanding, and a mutual respect have grown out of the steady cultural, educational and artistic exchanges between cities.
The people of Hanamaki, population 106,414, rely on tourism as a chief revenue source. Their bathhouses feature thermal waters from nearby hot springs. The city is surrounded by rolling hills and a low mountain range. Hanamaki is home to the late Miyazawa Kenji, Japan’s most illustrious poet, along with many other artists and poets, giving the city its rich artistic heritage. Hanamaki also has the only airport in the region.
Current time in Hanamaki, Japan
Each January, Hanamaki sends a student delegation to Hot Springs. Sister school relationships have been established between Sasama Daini Elementary School and Fountain Lake Elementary School, as well as Hanamaki Higashi High School and Lakeside High School. Additionally, in the Spring of 2007, Hot Springs and Jessieville Middle Schools became sister schools to Hanamaki and Ohasama Junior High Schools, respectively, during signing ceremonies at both schools in Hot Springs.The students learn from each other through home stay experiences, classroom visits and Web site exchanges. According to Mayor Mike Bush, “Our children are our future, and along with their teachers, they have done much to bring our cities, and the world, closer together.”
Hanamaki officials have shown a keen interest in Garvan Woodland Gardens from its inception. The Japanese influence is easily seen in the Garden of the Pine Wind, which the Japanese named and provided design input. They also helped name and dedicate the Sunrise Bridge, and presented a pagoda sculpture to further grace the gardens.
In 2001, Hanamaki officials helped dedicate the Hanamaki Permanent Exhibit at the Hot Springs Civic & Convention Center. The museum-quality exhibit features a core sampling of contemporary Japanese folk art, as well as an authentic Deer Dancer costume, a famous symbol of Hanamaki culture. The costume was presented as a gift from Hanamaki to Hot Springs during grand opening ceremonies for the Hot Springs Convention Center in December 1998. Hanamaki officials have also attended and shown support for the Summit Arena grand opening in 2003, as well as the opening of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock in 2004.
Teacher/Student Exchange Program
The Hot Springs National Park Sister City Foundation promotes goodwill and understanding between cities through, among other programs, its teacher scholarship program. Each year, area teachers are chosen to spend a week in Hanamaki. They share their rich cultural and educational experiences and lessons learned with their students upon their return.
The City of Hot Springs partners with the Sister City Foundation to strengthen its ties with Hanamaki through continuous student and citizen exchanges. In 2003, the Hot Springs Board of Directors approved a part-time position to help further the progress made in the first 10 years. The Sister City Program Coordinator's activities include coordinating all communications between Hanamaki and Hot Springs; overseeing delegation visits and other special events, promoting the program to schools and civic clubs; and publishing and distributing the quarterly Sister City Journal, now available online at www.cityhs.net/docs.htm. Recent activities such as art, music and dance exhibitions, needlepoint and dollmaking classes, cooking demonstrations, language classes and a Japanese tea ceremony have brought the program to a level where many Hot Springs citizens can participate more fully in the program.
The city’s Web site contains a Japanese page which offers basic information on Hot Springs and encourages visitors to consider a trip to its sister city. Hanamaki’s Web site can be reached at http://www.city.hanamaki.iwate.jp/english/index.html
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities for the program, call 501-545-6960.Sister City student art contest poetry winners - PDF
Hot Springs Sister City Program wins Sister Cities International’s Best Overall Program Award
WASHINGTON, DC – Hot Springs Sister City Program has won Sister Cities International’s 2011 Best Overall Program Award for a city with a population between 25,001 and 50,000. The award recognizes sister city programs that demonstrate outstanding accomplishments in advancing the goals and mission of the sister cities movement.