Sunday morning, a group of 10 students and 5 adults embarked on a short but event filled trip to Menlo Park’s Japanese friendship city, Bizen, located in Okayama Prefecture west of Osaka.
The 10 students were chosen to participate following an essay contest organized by Menlo Park’s Sister City Committee
this past spring. The delegates come from Hillview Middle School, La Entrada Middle School, Menlo School, Ravenswood Middle School and Menlo-Atherton High School.
As part of Menlo Park’s Sister City Program
, the city has maintained a friendship relationship with Bizen since 2015 and conducts annual alternating student exchanges between the two cities. A delegation from Bizen visited Menlo Park in 2015 and 2017 hosted by local families and Menlo Park students traveled to Bizen in 2016 and this week for a cultural exchange aimed at enhancing the economic opportunities, understanding and friendship between the two cities.
For many, this is the trip of a lifetime and change to experience authentic Japanese cuisine and culture firsthand while staying with host families, visiting local schools and learning about the different governmental systems. The group plans to visit the Bizen City Hall, Chamber of Commerce, several museums, a soy sauce factory, the famous Imbe Pottery Village for a hands-on Bizen-yaki pottery making experience, as well as the Shizutani School site, Japan’s first public school, dating back to the 17th century.