For many people, Koshigaya Park in the heart of Campbelltown is just a pretty spot for a lazy Sunday lunch, a place to take the kids for playtime, and the location of the annual New Years festivities. But when I take a stroll there I consider it a reflective experience - Koshigaya Park represents something more.
It is one physical manifestation of a practice of such value that many of us know of the term but usually fail to appreciate its importance - Sister City relationships. The concept of Sister Cities was re-ignited after the ravages of the Second World War as a means by which far off peoples in different places on earth could connect with a common bond of humanity.
Greg Percival, OBE, and Mayor Shinichiro Shimamura first made contact at an Australia - Japan Community Exchange Sister City event held in Tokyo in April 1982. This planted the seeds for what has developed into a close relationship between the two cities.
The monument below details the story of Campbelltown's Sister City relationship with the Japanese city and was a gift from the people of Koshigaya on the 30th anniversary of the two cities relationship.
As Campbelltown's park is named Koshigaya, there is also a park in Koshigaya named The Campbelltown Forest of Wildbirds to which Campbelltown gifted a number of native birds.This was in response to the gift from the City of Koshigaya of the beautiful tea house that now stands in the Japanese Gardens within the Campbelltown Arts Centre.
Koshigaya City Office, Koshigaya, Japan. Image Credit: Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons
According to the Koshigaya City Office, the administration of Koshigaya City initially planned to seek out a Sister City relationship with a city in the southern hemisphere with a latitude and longitude similar to those of Koshigaya. Years on, according to the site:
"...the number of people from both cities who have participated in sister city exchange activities passed 1,400"
This was achieved through a number of visits and staff exchanges of personnel from both cities, and a rewarding exchange program for high school students where each year a number of families in each country are host to students from the other city.
Koshigaya's relationship with Campbelltown is by no means exclusive. Koshigaya has a second sister city in Chakeri in India, while Campbelltown's other sister city is a little closer to home - in Coonamble, outback NSW.
In times of peace, it is easy to forget the value and significance of places like Koshigaya Park that represent a desire to promote unity and healing into the future.
But I urge you, next time you pass Koshigaya Park, remember what it stands for.