Hillsboro remembers three decades of friendship with the city of Fukuroi, Japan.

STAFF PHOTO: OLIVIA SINGER - A Kendo karate demonstration at the event featured participants swordfighting in full protection using bamboo swords.Around 200 people stopped by Rood Bridge Park over the weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hillsboro's sister city partnership with Fukuroi, Japan.

On Saturday, April 21, the free event was set up with various Japanese cultural activities including live music, Gyotaku — a traditional fish printing art form where kids and adults painted ceramic fish and stamped them on paper — Japanese flower pot planting, Japanese pastries called Imagawayaki filled with a sweet bean paste or custard and Kendo martial arts demonstrations where participants use bamboo swords and protective armor to swordfight.

Since 1988, Hillsboro has maintained a close relationship with Fukuroi, the Japanese city of nearly 85,000 people rests on the coast of central Japan, about three hours from Tokyo. STAFF PHOTO: OLIVIA SINGER - Keiko Honda from nonprofit Friends of Japan in Oregon makes a traditional dessert, imagawayaki, at the event.

Hosting the Cherry Blossom Celebration at Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro is symbolic, said Iris Ringer the special events supervisor for the city of Hillsboro parks and recreation. The park is home to six Japanese cherry trees city employees have planted over the years to represent every five years of partnership with the sister city.

"We have the (cherry) trees here at Rood Bridge Park and then we also have some Japanese maples and Japanese rhododendrons here, too," Ringer said.

Over the years of partnership, the cities have organized many student and adult cultural exchanges, Ringer said, sending students the 4,943 miles from Hillsboro to Fukuroi. Last year, nine Hillsboro students visited the city as student ambassadors. STAFF PHOTO: OLIVIA SINGER - Community members participated in gyotaku, a traditional fish printing art form.COURTESY PHOTO: OLIVIA SINGER - A local artist performed traditional music during Saturday's celebration.

Ringer said the partnership has been very special for the city of Hillsboro.

"It (not only) honors the Japanese Americans that are here in Hillsboro and in Oregon, but with the student delegations and even when adults travel, that cultural citizenship and that cultural awareness — embracing everyone from everywhere — it only makes you and your society better," Ringer said. "So the more that we can do that and facilitate that for the city of Hillsboro, I think it's better for our community."

After Hillsboro students visited Fukuroi last summer, Hillsboro will host a group of students from Fukuroi in March 2019, Ringer said.

"(The partnership) is really based around student travel and experiences," she said. "Even if it's only 24 hours, the experience that you have is forever changing."

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