Sister Cities Bring Cherry Blossoms and Couple Together

For the residents of Boulder, Colorado, springtime brings an especially beautiful sight to the parks around the city, as the sakura (cherry blossom) trees from their sister city of Yamagata, Japan begin to bloom. As part of the sister city Sakura Project, Yamagata regularly donates the sakura trees, and the City of Boulder provides the land (parks and other locations) to plant them. Approximately 250 sakura trees have been planted thus far.

Interestingly, in April 2009, a delegation from Yamagata visited Boulder to help plant sakura trees in the city’s parks. That’s when Ken Fisher, a Forestry Assistant for the City of Boulder, and Eiko Kato, the Deputy Chief of Yamagata’s International Center, first met. Two years later, Ken was sent to Yamagata for two weeks to learn more about sakura planting practices and how the trees are culturally linked to the people of Japan. After the second sister cities exchange, Ken and Eiko stayed in touch, and began to visit each other every three to six months. The relationship has now blossomed into a happy marriage — the couple got married last year!

With Boulder and Yamagata celebrating their 20th anniversary later this year, Eiko reflects on the impact the sister city relationship has had, “the Boulder-Yamagata sister cities exchange has been a huge influence on my life. Ken and I are so thankful for our involvement with our sister cities.” Eiko plans to continue her work with sister cities in Boulder and will volunteer for the program during a Yamagata delegation visit this summer.

The sakura trees act as a symbol and reminder of the strong relationship between the two cities, and the two people, as they continue to grow and change through the years.