Sister-City Story

In 1937, an adventurous, young woman was traveling on the island of Java in Indonesia. Her name was Helen Amos. She was a teacher at Battell Elementary School in Mishawaka, Indiana.

While riding on a train, Miss Amos began a conversation with a young Japanese businessman from Shiojiri City in Japan. His name was Kenichi Midzuno. Their chance encounter provides the origins of the Sister-City story.

Upon his return to Shiojiri, Mr. Midzuno shared his story of meeting Miss Amos with his friend, Mr. Hiro Takasuna, who was very active in the Shiojiri community.

For four years, Miss Amos and Mr. Takasuna shaped a remarkable friendship by sending cards and letters to eachother.

During World War II, from December of 1941 to August 1945, while America and Japan were at war, it was difficult to send letters between America and Japan.

In spite of the war, the friendship of Miss Amos and Mr. Takasuna endured. After World War II ended, they resumed their letter writing in earnest.

Over the next 19 years, Miss Amos and Mr. Takasuna wrote letters and visited each other’s communities, while strengthening their friendship.

In 1964, Miss Amos arranged to have students at Battell Elementary School in Mishawaka send artwork and notes to Nishi Primary School students in Shiojiri. The “Nishi” students sent artwork and notes back, and the first Sister-School exchange began.

Eight years later, the communities of Mishawaka and Shiojiri decided to make the relationship official. In 1972, Mishawaka and Shiojiri became an official “Sister City.”

As Sister Cities, the exchanges of artwork grew to the exchange of people Shiojiri City sent a high school student to live with a Mishawaka family and study at Mishawaka High School for one year. Then, the city of Mishawaka sent a student to live with a family in Shiojiri for the summer.

Over the years, the exchanges have continued. Students, business people, and city members from both cities have enjoyed cultural exchanges, hosting visiting delegations, providing homestays, and building friendships that transcend generations.

The Sister-City relationship of Mishawaka and Shiojiri enables us to understand and to personally experience what it means to be part of a global family.

Thank you Miss Amos and Mr. Takasuna for the gift of this enduring friendship!

1987: Hiroo Takasuna, Helen Amos & first Shiojiri exchange student, Saturo Komaki.

In The Words of Miss Amos...