The Cupertino Toyokawa Sister Cities Committee organizes a yearly student exchange and an adult exchange is conducted every 5 years.
A delegation of 19 adults have returned to Cupertino, after visiting their sister city - Toyokawa, Japan. The delegation was led by Gilbert Wong, who was sworn in as the Mayor of Cupertino shortly after returning from the trip. Other officials included Asif Kausar, President of the Cupertino Toyokawa Sister City Committee, and Gary Mc Cue, representing the Cupertino Union School District Board of Directors.
The hallmark of the Cupertino Toyokawa sister city exchange program is the use of home-stays in place of hotels. Each delegate enjoyed starting their November 8-14th visit spending the weekend with their host families. The B-1 Grand Prix, a national festival that highlights the specialty foods from all over the country, happened to be held in Toyokawa on this weekend, so this was on the itinerary of many host families.
The hosting city of Toyokawa arranged a 3-day long action-packed itinerary for the delegation that began with a paparazzi-like greeting at City Hall on Monday, November 11th. Mayor Yamawaki of Toyokawa led a welcome ceremony. After visiting the City Council chambers, the delegation visited Tōkaidō, the Edo-period route that connected Tokyo to Kyoto, which passes through Toyokawa. The delegation walked between what were the Goyu and Akasaka stations along this route. A visit to Seibu Junior high included the experience of eating a Japanese school lunch. The delegation was treated to a tour of the brand-new Toyokawa City Hospital, followed by a Welcome banquet. The Toyokawa International Section delighted the delegation with a display of photos chronicling the collective memories and photos from many of the people who have been involved in the 35 years of the sister city relationship. That was just the first day. On Day two, the delegation visited the Toyota Motor plant and museum, having a tour of the state-of-the-art robotic- assisted assembly plant, and display of futuristic concepts in development. The Toyokawa International Association Cupertino Committee (the counter-part organization to the Cupertino Toyokawa Sister Cities Committee) hosted a BBQ lunch that featured yaki-tori and yaki-soba made on site. Countless citizens from Toyokawa who had ties to the delegates or former student delegates, stopped by to reunite or meet for the first time. Following lunch, the delegation visited the Ichibiki Miso factory. Not only did the delegates learn how miso (fermented soybean paste) is made – they also made some to take home. On the third day of the visit, the delegation took a bus for a day trip to the Ise Jingu Shrine, which was recently re-dedicated (it is re-built every 20 years) and is currently the top most visited shrine in Japan for that reason.