Exploring Michigan’s decades-long relationship with Japan

Feb 17, 2014

Biwa Lake in Shiga, Japan
Credit Flickr - rockriver

In 1968, Michigan Governor George Romney signed an agreement with the governor of Shiga Prefecture, which is one of Japan’s 47 state-like territories, to create a sister state relationship. The cultural partnership between the two states is one of the longest-running in the country and is still going strong today.

Kate Simon, president of the Michigan-Shiga Sister State Board, says the relationship developed because Shiga and Michigan both have great lakes.

Larry Arbanas is a former DeWitt Junior High School teacher and long time participant in the Shiga exchanges. He first went to Japan as an English teacher, and he's been there 23 times, working with students from both countries.

Kentaro Taki, the representative for Shiga Prefecture, has been living here in Michigan for the last year and a half. He says he has already learned much about language, culture, and life in Michigan, but that he would like to learn more about the environment.