History of the Sister City Relationship
On November 3, 2004 a delegation from West Covina, representing the City of West Covina and the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center, located in West Covina, attended a signing ceremony to establish the sister city relationship between the City of West Covina and the Town of Kurobane, Japan. On October 2005, the City of Kurobane merged with the City of Ohtawara, Japan. Committed to continuing the sister city relationship between our two communities, representatives from the City of West Covina and the City of Ohtawara signed a new sister city agreement in July 2007.
A copy of the agreement can be viewed by visiting the following link:
Ohtawara Sister City Agreement.
For the past several years, the City of West Covina in partnership with the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center, have participated in an annual student exchange program, where students from West Covina visit Ohtawara and learn about Japanese culture and visit the many historical sites of Ohtawara. In turn, students from Japan come to West Covina to learn about American culture and visit sites throughout Southern California.
For more information on the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center, please visit their website:
East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center.
Information on Ohtawara, Japan
Ohtawara, Japan is a city located in the Tochigi Prefecture, about 120 kilometers north of Tokyo. The population of Ohtawara is estimated to be 75,714 people as of July 1, 2014 according to the City of Ohtawara, Japan's website.
The modern city was founded on December 1, 1954. Ohtawara Castle was built in 1545 and it prospered during the Edo Period of Japan's History (1603-1867) as a castle town. Ohtawara Prefecture was born in 1871 and afterwards it was integrated into Tochigi Prefecture. The town was formally incorporated as Ohtawara in 1889. Over the years, the community continued to grow as other towns were absorbed into Ohtawara.
- December 1, 1954 - Ohtawara and the villages of Chikasono and Kaneda combined to form Ohtawara City;
- December 31, 1954 - Part of the town of Nozaki was merged into the City;
- April 1, 1955 - Part of the town of Nishinasuno merged with the City;
- November 5, 1955 - The town of Sakuyama merged into the City;
- October 1, 2005 - The town of Kurobane, and the village of Yuzugami merged into the City.
Ohtawara is home to several historical and cultural assets, including the oldest surviving example of writing in Japan is in the Kasaishi Shrine, which dates to 690 AD. The Shino Kura Hall is a thatched roof style building dating to approximately the late 1850s or early 1860s, the end of the Edo Period. The Hall displays old equipment and other artifacts dating to that time period such as large carts, a foot threshing machine, a packsaddle, and a milk machine.
Also located in Ohtawara are several ancient samurai burial mounds dating to approximately 1692. Little is know specifically of the samurai who are buried there however.
Additional information can also be found by visiting the Wikipedia page for Ohtawara, Japan or their Facebook Page.