On Sunday, May 26, San Andreas High School served as one of several points of interest visited by Japanese visitors from San Bernardino’s sister city of Tachikawa, in California to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the international relationship between the two cities.
Honoka Masuko, 20, and her father Etsuo Masuko visited the area as guests of San Andreas High School Principal Ed Hensley, whose own daughter Angelina Hensley, 17, is scheduled to visit the Masukos in Tachikawa in the summer as part of a student exchange program.
The two families were brought together, in part, by their Rotary Club connection. Etsuo, a 15-year Rotarian, making his first visit to the United States, requested to befriend a local Rotarian during his visit. Ed is a member of the San Bernardino Sunshine Rotary Club.
San Bernardino and Tachikawa have been sister cities since Dec. 23, 1959. President Eisenhower initiated the program as an effort to better relations and forge friendships among the nations that had been involved in World War II.
Etsuo said that having the people of San Bernardino welcome them so warmly impressed on him just how strong the relationship between the two cities has been and he hopes it continues for much longer.
A special dinner was held Saturday night to commemorate the lasting friendship between the two cities. Approximately 150 people attended including more than 25 visiting from Japan, including several of the first group of exchange students.
The Masukos arrived on Saturday, May 25, and started their visit stepping off the plane and into a tour of San Bernardino International Airport.
From there, the Hensleys, including Ed’s wife Tawnya and oldest daughter Antoinette, 20, guided the Masukos around the San Bernardino and Highland area.
At the Masukos’ request, the group stopped at the first McDonald’s for a tour of the adjoining museum.
Also at Etsuo’s request, they visited the Arrowhead Country Club, meeting place of the Sunshine Rotary Club.
Etsuo said, through Honoka’s interpretation, making the Rotary connection was important because he was interested to see how Rotarians work to benefit their communities in the United States as Rotarians do in Japan. Rotary is one big family, he said.
Etsuo was happy to learn that he and Ed share a passion for bettering the lives of troubled youth by training them to be part of society ⎯ Ed as principal of a continuation high school making great strides in giving teens a meaningful education and Etsuo as an advocate and mentor for incarcerated youth.
The Masukos were also delighted to drive through neighborhoods canopied by blooming blue jacaranda trees, something they don’t have in Japan. They were surprised by America’s abundance of space ⎯ space between buildings, the sizes of yards and open space.
Tachikawa has a high population density of 19,321.3 people per square mile when compared to the city of San Bernardino, which has a population density of just 3,519.6 people per square mile in spite of having a much higher overall population, according to the 2010 census.
Angelina says she’s looking forward to her own visit and learning more about Japan’s samurai culture and the historical relationship between the two cities.
She’s also excited to see Mount Fuji, a mountain that Etsuo has climbed 10 times.