Brief History of Salt Lake Sister City
and Matsumoto, Japan Sister City

The year 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of our Sister Cities relationship between Salt Lake City and Matsumoto City, Nagano, Japan. Matsumoto is the first and the oldest sister city for Salt Lake City, whose relationship also includes Olympic Sister Cities. The initiation of the Sister City relationship is attributed to the two cities mutual respect and enjoyment for one another, including those efforts taken by Japanese citizen, Tamotsu Murayama. Murayama was a Japanese newspaper correspondent from Matsumoto who visited the Japanese newspaper agency in Utah, The Utah Nippo, in 1957. When he arrived and witnessed Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Mountains it reminded him of the Japan Alps surrounding Matsumoto City.

Besides Murayama, persons from Salt Lake City involved with the establishment of the relationship included: Mayors Earl J. Glade and J. Bracken Lee; University of Utah President A. Ray Olpin; Mrs. Kuniko Terasawa; President and owner of the Utah Nippo, Henry Kasai; the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) members and Japanese community at large. This enthusiasm for international culture was matched on the Japanese side, when in 1957, Murayama delivered a message of support for the Sister City from Matsumoto City Mayor Tokuya Furuhata to Salt Lake City Mayor J. Braken Lee. The letter resulted in the formal declaration of the relationship in November 1958, thirteen years after World War II had ended.[nggallery id=1]

Currently, the population of Matsumoto is 243,716, but one of the unique characteristics distinguishing Matsumoto City is its castle; one of four castles in Japan considered a national treasure. The castle and its landscaped gardens are provided with a moat, all of which comprises 90 acres in the heart of the city. In addition to their famous castle, they are also known for Saito Kinen, a music festival conducted by Seiji Ozawa; the Suzuki Methods of Music, winter sports and games, wasabi farms, wood block prints, buckwheat noodles, onsen (hot springs), silk culture, temari (colored silk cords wound hand balls), and many art museums, both modern and contemporary. One museum in particular is the Chihiro Art Museum, founded by Chihiro Iwasaki. Ms. Iwasaki devoted her entire life for world peace through the arts, including her artistic depictions of children amidst the atomic bomb attack during World War II.

For additional information on the Matsumoto relationship, please contact:

Board Manager – Katie Matheson