Did you know the towns of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta and Kamikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, have been twin municipalities since 1984?
On June 21 of that year, Mayor Lou Soppit and Mayor Yoskimi Kawamoto signed the agreement. The Twin Town relationship strengthened the existing friendship between Canada and Japan as well as growing each municipality's knowledge and understanding of the other.
Signing of the Twin Town agreement
By entering the agreement, Rocky Mountain House benefits from new experiences and an understanding of a different way of government.
Twin Town similarities
There are many commonalities between the two towns that led to the pairing, including topography, economy, and climate.
Kamikawa is found on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It was first pioneered in 1894 and is governed by 1 Mayor and 22 Councillors. The town is focused on tourism, agriculture, and lumber thanks to its climate and location. The Ishikari River borders the south side of Kamikawa. The Ishikari is the third longest river in Japan, stretching for 268 kilometres.
Not only is Kamikawa known for its bordering river but also for its proximity to Daisetsuzan National Park.
The park is home to the tallest mountains in Hokkaido, reaching up to 2,291 metres elevation.
In comparison, the Canadian Rockies soar to 3,959 metres high.
Twin Town social ties
Just months after finalizing the Twin Town Agreement, the municipalities launched a student exchange program. Through the years, youth from both towns were able to experience the culture of the other country while living with host families and creating memories. The exchange program has ebbed and flowed through the years, with the 2020 global Covid-19 pandemic interrupting recent plans. The municipalities are hopeful these exchanges will resume soon.
The Town of Rocky Mountain House is also a member of the Alberta/Japan Twinned Municipalities Association. Twin Towns gather for annual conferences to celebrate and promote their relationships and successes. Rocky Mountain House hosted the provincial conference in 1999, and again in 2014. Plans are underway to host again in 2024, in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Rocky Mountain House and Kamikawa's Twin Town agreement.
Rocky-Kamikawa Friendship Society maintains social ties between the two towns, facilitating adult exchanges and supporting cultural initiatives.
For more information on the Alberta/Japan Twinned Municipalities Association
What is A Twin Town?
A Twin Town relationship is an agreement between two municipalities in different countries with similar characteristics. It is for social and economic gain, benefiting both parties. It promotes peace, friendship, and development in the exchange of ideas and projects.
The Kamikawa Drive sign is located at the Lou Soppit Community Centre.
Cherry Blossom Tree
The Cherry Blossom tree was a gift from Kamikawa in 1987 to celebrate Alberta's 75th anniversary. The tree and plaque are located in front of the town office.
Gifts from Kamikawa on display at the Town Office
Explore the streets of Kamikawa, Hokkaido Japan
Explore the Town of Kamikawa Website
Kamikawa Display Cabinet
Many gifts from Kamikawa and tokens honouring the long Twin Town relationship are on display at the Rocky Regional Recreation Centre.
Find the Twin Town cabinet on the second floor, near the administration offices.
Browse the gallery to see some of the highlights, or stop by the centre next time you are in Town.