NEWPORT — A delegation of Japanese visitors from Newport’s sister city, Mombetsu, arrived last week as part of an annual sister city exchange.
The activities planned for the group of tourists from across the Pacific included a Mexican fiesta, a Yaquina Head lighthouse visit, an excursion with Marine Discovery Tours and a tour of Newport Middle School for some of the youngest of the group.
“This is an opportunity for kids from other countries to see how other countries look and work,” said one of the American hosts, Richard Giles, on the middle school tour. “We’re separate communities a world apart, but it’s an interesting exchange.”
One of the scheduled visits on the Japanese visitors’ tour of Newport included stopping at Newport City Hall during Monday night’s city council meeting, which saw each of the visitors ceremoniously sworn in as honorary members of the Newport City Council.
“This is my second time visiting Newport, “ said Shunta Fujie, a delegation member, in a greeting to those gathered at city hall. “I’m happy to see old places and my friends, and I look [forward] to coming back soon.”
For many of the middle-school aged students in the Mombetsu delegation, the visit was the first to the United States. The food, people and overall culture of the greater Newport community was a high point for the youngest of the group.
“They think the people here are nice and the food is good,” said Fujie. “Also, for the students who can’t speak good English, it’s practice for them.”