Fresno and Kochi became sister cities in 1965 and is Fresno’s longest continuous sister city. With a population of approximately 332,000, Kochi is the capitol of Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku Island, one of the 4 major islands which comprise Japan. It is a modern coastal city with a history having strong ties to the United States. In 1841 Nakahama [John] Manjirō, a young shipwrecked Kochi fisherman, was rescued by a Boston whaling ship and brought to Fairhaven, Massachusetts where he attended school. Years later after he was able to return to Japan, he was instrumental in Japan becoming open to the west.
Kochi is also the incubating center for Japan’s democratic and human rights movement. It has a history and environment which produced many great men in Japan such as Sakamoto Ryōma. Ryōma was a mid-1800s visionary revolutionist who was inspired by the United States in promoting democracy in Japan. Ryōma is greatly admired in Japan for being the passionate open minded catalyst of the revolution which propelled Japan into the modern era, and is the most revered historical figure in Japan today
Fresno and Kochi have exchanged numerous citizen delegations to and from the two cities for over 50 years. Holland Elementary School hosted early delegates to Fresno in 1966 and has an established sister school relationship with Enokuchi Elementary School in Kochi. The entrance to Woodward Park’s Shinzen Gardens was a gift from the Kochi to the City of Fresno.
Kochi Prefecture is blessed with beautiful and abundant nature under a shining sun such as the coastline with the Kuroshio Current (Japan Current), clear rivers such as the Shimanto River and deep green forests.
Kochi's free and daring characteristics have created generous yet deeply strong residents called "Igosso" or "Hachikin," and the wisdom and activity of the people of Kochi, who are full of ideas, gave birth to special gardening crops and industrial technologies. The unique regional culture is represented by the annual "Yosakoi Festival" which is held every year in August.
Adults delegations go back and forth between Fresno and Kochi every other year. If you would like to participate in this exchange, please contact our Committee Chair, Ken Taniguchi, for more details.
Although we do not have a formal exchange program, we do host students from Kochi from time to time. The main exchange program we support is the Rotary Club's one year mutual high school student exchange with Kochi. Here are photos of past students both hosted and on the Rotary program.