2010 Trip Story

Miasa-Omachi to Mendocino May 6-May 20, 2010

“Konotabi no houmon wa imamadenonakade ichiban yokatta desu.!” “It was the best visit ever!”

I don’t hear that after every visit from our Sister City, Miasa-Omachi, but at least half of the time I do hear those words, and this trip was truly one of the most successful exchanges we have had since these annual visits started in 1992.

Miasa-Omachi Artists arrive at SFO on May 6 and are greeted by several MSCA members

From the moment the Art Exchange Artists landed at SFO on May 6 to the departure of the Miasa-Omachi student group on May 20, it was a whirlwind of activity incorporating art events, dinners, parties, site seeing, wine tasting excursions, Homestay hosting, a K-8 School visit and Sister School Agreement signing ceremony during the culminating “See You Again” dinner at Crown Hall. Truly, a nonstop two weeks for anyone involved with both groups.

The Miasa-Omachi Student group shortly before departing SFO for Japan on May 20, 2010

Highlights included the May 6, Thursday night informal reception of the nine visiting artists and a “first look” at their art before the Second Saturday Gala Artists Reception on May 8.


A group shot of the Artists and Mendocino Hosts
at the Mendocino Art Center Welcome Reception

During the Second Saturday Reception, visiting Tole painting artist Hiromi Kitahara kicked things off and set the mood for the entire evening by performing two traditional Japanese Kimono dances for the standing room only crowd.


Hiromi Kitahara performs her Kimono Dance
to a standing room only crowd

The combined Miasa-Omachi/Mendocino “Japanese Inspired” art show presented by the Mendocino Art Center and brilliantly managed by MAC Gallery Director, Jessica Jade was a masterful blend of East and West portraying traditional and contemporary Asian influenced creations. The MAC has supported this Sister Cities Art Exchange from its inception in 2008 and did a superb job this year, and with the blessing of the new MAC Director, David Alden declared May “Japan Month.”


President Mike L. Evans introduces the Miasa-Omachi Artists
to the crowd at the MAC Welcome Reception

Even the Elk community threw a “make your own” Pizza party for the artists the night before the Gala Reception. And not to be left out, Tom Kravis of the Mendocino Hotel opened his doors on Sunday for an evening of eating, drinking and socializing between locals and the Miasa-Omachi artists. Both proved to be nice events indeed.


Wataru Yamakami shows off his Mandala Pizza at the Elk Pizza Party

With just two nights left of their stay in Mendocino, on Monday there was a big party for all Mendocino and Miasa-Omachi artists to get to know each other and dance the night away to the live tunes of “The Spoilers” a.k.a. Roger Fritz, Jon Faurot and James Preston with special musical guests interspersed through the night. A fun time was truly had by all!


Gathered around the dining table at the Artists Party
while the band takes a break

After two active gallery hopping and bar dancing nights in San Francisco, the artists met the student group on their arrival on May 14 before boarding their flight back home. And away we went again!

Arriving in Mendocino the same evening we welcomed our new students and chaperones to Mendocino with a tasty potluck “Welcome Dinner” where everyone met their respective Homestay hosts and guests for the following five nights.


Amanda & Sarah Crowningshield meet their two Homestay guests
Kai Washizawa & Syohei Miyata at the Student Group Welcome Dinner

With yet again another bang up presentation on Saturday morning by the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department, the Miasa School students were able to shoot powerful fire water hoses and ride around Mendocino in a fire truck. Afterwards they walked down to Friendship Park to enjoy an International game of baseball and crafts making in the Rec. Center. We all then journeyed to Tim & Khamoor Poehlmann’s wonderful homestead for a late afternoon of games, socializing and dinner before returning to the Homestays.


A Miasa-Omachi student tries on a fire fighting gas mask at the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department Saturday morning


Two Miasa-Omachi students creating colorful paper beads at the Mendocino Rec. Center Saturday afternoon

Sunday was the much anticipated "Free Day" when the Homestay Hosts were able to show their guests around Mendocino and partake of the many splendors of the area. The Miasa-Omachi travelers were taken to the beach, bowled a few games, played golf, enjoyed wine tasting, and walked through Montgomery Woods. Everyone seemed to be pretty tired by the end of the fun filled day.


Champagne tasting at Roederer Estate Vineyards
with Masamichi Takeshita, Dirk Dooley, Takako Akehane,
Sachie Nakamura & Donna Schuler


Miasa-Omachi students playing soccer on Big River Beach
during the Free Day

The Art Center again stepped in to welcome the student group on Monday after we visited the Peace Plaque on the headlands. Jessica and Cynthia at the MAC had a great schedule ready for the students that included viewing the Sister Cities Art Show, painting, and lunch that was served after a short tour by the entire student group of the Mendocino High School and Community School. Since the day was raining, everyone went home early to their Homestays.


At the Mendocino Art Center Student Group Day with MAC Gallery Director Jessica Jade and volunteer Cynthia

Tuesday, May 18 was the big day. Starting with a K-8 School assembly at 8:40 am which included speeches, gift exchanges and an enthralling program presented by the Miasa Middle School students that showcased Japanese achievements, a Sumo wrestling demonstration between a Miasa student and several K-8 students and topped off with a rousing Taiko drum performance by all the Miasa students who then asked some of the K-8 School students to come up and participate. After attending classes with some of the Mendocino students, the Miasa group played games with our local students, had lunch together and then walked to the village for an afternoon of shopping.


The Miasa-Omachi Taiko group
plays with the students from Mendocino K-8 School

At 5pm the “See You Again” dinner opened its doors and Crown Hall was soon brimming with dinner guests eager to witness the signing of the Mendocino K-8/Miasa Middle School Sister School Agreement, which was witnessed by Japanese Vice-Consul Takemichi Nagaoka, who then delivered a personal message from Consular General Nagamine congratulating both associations on almost 20 years of exchanges. Mr. Nagaoka also eloquently shared with us how he became interested in a diplomatic career after he spent time in the US as a Sister Cities Exchange student.


Tadoshi Hosoi indicates to Miasa Middle School Principal, Kazuhiko Yamaura where to sign the Miasa Middle School/Mendocino K-8 School Sister School Agreement, just after Mendocino K-8 Principal,
Bronwyn Rhoades signed for Mendocino.


Takako Akahane photographs Omachi School Supervisor, Kesaichi Arai showing where Mendocino School Supervisor, Catherine Stone should sign her name on the MMS/MK-8S Sister School Agreement as MSCA Presdient Mike L. Evans awaits his turn


Sub-Consul Takemichi Nagaoka delivers a message from Consular General Nagamine and then relates his personal Exchange story

"Congratulations on this year’s successful student delegation between Miasa-Omachi and Mendocino. I also congratulate you on the 30th anniversary of the sister city relationship between the two cities.
I regret that I cannot join you for tonight’s “See You Again” Dinner, but I am pleased to send my best wishes through my colleague at the Consulate, Consul Nagaoka.
Student exchanges and citizen-to-citizen connections have sustained this friendship between two peoples for three decades, and I applaud you for your efforts.
This is a particularly auspicious year with the conclusion of a sister school agreement between Mendocino K-8 School and Miasa Middle School.
I am certain that this new addition to the long history of friendship between Miasa-Omachi and Mendocino will further contribute to friendly relations between Japan and the US.
As the name of tonight’s “See You Again” Dinner indicates, this is only a temporary goodbye until your next exchange. Once again, congratulations to the citizens of both Mendocino and Miasa-Omachi on this successful 30-year endeavor. We at the Consulate General of Japan look forward to continuing to support your sister city relationship.
Consul General of Japan in San Francisco
Yasumasa Nagamine"

But the guests did not just come to hear speeches and eat the great dinner prepared by Suzy Kitahara, and the fabulous dessert cakes baked by Sharon Garner, they came to see Taiko performances! Since Miasa had hand made and gifted the MSCA nine Taiko drums in 2009 it was only a matter of time before Mendocino formed its own Taiko group. So, first up on the bill was the 14 member Mendocino Taiko group backed up by their Taiko Sensei, Bruce Ghent and his fellow drummer, Sharon Anderson. After their spirited performance and an ovation by the appreciative audience the local group bowed and let Sensei Mui and Sharon perform a two-person song which got everyone’s attention. But, that was just the lead in for the performance of the evening, the Miasa-Omachi student Taiko group performance of several Taiko numbers which had everyone applauding wildly. The most heartwarming of which was the final number where locals young and old, along with Vice-Consul Nagaoka joined in to play the well known (in Japan anyway) “Hounen Daiko.” The smiles were from ear to ear all around the room!


Eileen Broderick plays along with Maddie Crowningshield
at the "See You Again" Dinner at Crown Hall


Tim Poehlmann, Eileen Broderick, Paulette Miller, Mike Evans and Martha Barthalomay play Matsuri Daiko at the SYA Dinner


Kai Washizawa and another Miasa Taiko player
get into the rhythm and dance

But the evening did not end there. Square dancing was next on the bill and with step calling of Jary Stavely and the musical accompaniment of Judy Stavely and Frannie Leopold the entire ensemble of Miasa-Omachi guests, Mendocino dinner guests and Vice-Consul Nagaoka danced three dances to much laughter and enjoyment by everyone! The night was one to remember!

Early the next morning, the Miasa-Omachi group met at the K-8 school and said their “See you again’s” to their new found friends. After a bus ride to The City and a little site seeing they were early to bed and off on the plane the next morning for home. A quick trip, but, “Konotabi no houmon wa imamadenonakade ichiban yokatta desu!”


The Student group at San Francisco City Hall
around a sculpture by a Chinese artist

The MSCA would like to thank all the Homestay hosts who opened their homes to nine artists and 41 guests from Miasa-Omachi over a period of 11 nights. Also, a tremendous amount of thanks goes to the Mendocino K-8 School Administration, the Mendocino Art Center Staff, the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department and the Edgewater Gallery in Ft. Bragg for extending the Sister Cities Art Show through the end of June. Check out the opening on First Friday, June 4.