Three couples from Sidney’s sister city of Niimi, Japan visited the Saanich Peninsula community recently. Local members of the Sidney Sister Cities Association provided them a tour of the area. (Submitted)

Sidney offers visitors from Japan royal treatment

Sister Cities Association members help make a short visit to Sidney a memorable one

Three couples from Niimi, Sidney’s Japanese sister city, on a private visit to the Island recently spent a few hours in Sidney sightseeing and visiting with members of the Sidney Sister Cities Association.

Mark Loria of the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, along with centre volunteer Lesley Nichols, were pleased to give the visitors a guided tour of the aquarium and a look at Dolly, the resident octopus. That really stunned the guests with her stretching and gliding antics.

After viewing the Niimi Tree, planted nine years ago and located by the outdoor pool in Beacon Park, everyone enjoyed a leisurely walk to the Sidney Museum where Executive Director Peter Garnham toured the guests through the varied exhibits with facts and interesting anecdotes about the Peninsula’s history. The Sister Cities display, mounted recently, was of great delight.

Crossing Beacon Avenue, the Children’s Bookstore at Tanner’s was of especial interest as each couple has grandchildren so pertinent book purchases were the order of the day.

It was then on to a Canadian pot luck lunch at SSCA member Patricia Jones’ home in Saanichton. At the conclusion of the lunch, in the Japanese tradition, gifts were exchanged. That took place at the Tulista Art Gallery where the Sidney/Niimi connection came into full play with the purchase of a photograph of two cranes by photographer, Cheryl Taschuk, as it had special meaning for Mr. and Mrs. Onishi who have a printing company, named Two Cranes, in Niimi which employs 48 people.

While their visit to Sidney and the Peninsula lasted only four hours, the Niimi visitors were full of praise for the beauty and scenery of Sidney and area, the warmth of their reception and in particular the sister city link which has now been established between their mountainous city and Sidney by the sea since 2008.

— Submitted by Robert McLure for the Sidney Sister Cities Association

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