Fukuoka is currently home to nearly 30,000 foreign residents, and it hosts many large international conferences that attract visitors from around the globe. This June, the city bustled with foreign visitors when the Lions Club held its 99th International Convention here. Naturally, an international city like this has sister cities. To be exact, Fukuoka has seven sister cities with whom it engages in mutual exchange in the realms of sports, culture and various other fields.
Fukuoka’s forged its first sister city relationship with Oakland, California in the United States in 1962. Both are harbor cities—Oakland fronts San Francisco Bay—that share similarities in geography and urban functions.
The next sister city agreement was inked with Guangzhou, China in 1979. Located in southern China, Guangzhou has since grown into a major automobile-producing hub and China’s third largest city after Shanghai and Beijing.
In 1982, Fukuoka became sister cities with Bordeaux, France. The famous wine-producing region is also an academic center home to many universities and research institutions. This year, a Bordeaux Wine Bureau-certified wine bar opened in Fukuoka.
Fukuoka’s next sister city tie-up came with Auckland, New Zealand in 1986. The only sister city located in the Southern Hemisphere, Auckland is known for its rugby, a sport that is also gaining popularity in Japan.
In 1989, Fukuoka added Ipoh, Malaysia as its fifth sister city, and this also happened to be the first-ever Japan-Malaysia sister city relationship.
In 2005, Fukuoka inked yet another sister city agreement, this time with Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. Both cities lie at almost the same latitude (33° N).
Finally, in 2007, Fukuoka added Busan, South Korea, a city with which it has had a close relationship since olden times, as its seventh sister city.
In this way, Fukuoka has created a strong culture of exchange with its global network of sister cities.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn212, Aug. 2016)