Sister Cities: Fort Wayne and Takaoka

by Nathan Marchand

As mentioned in a previous blog, Brian and I reside in Indiana. More specifically, Kaijuvision Radio is based out of Fort Wayne, the second-largest city in the state. Something about it that’s relevant to this podcast is Fort Wayne has a sister city in Japan: Takaoka, which is located in the Toyama Prefecture on Honshu.

The Great Buddha of Takaoka, the third largest Buddha statue in Japan. It stands 53 feet tall. (Photo Source: Fort Wayne Sister Cities International)

Takaoka was the first of Fort Wayne’s four sister cities. Officials from both cities signed the agreement to become sister cities in 1977. Since then, the cities have enhanced each other in many ways. According to the Fort Wayne Sister Cities International website:

This sister alliance has led to many exchanges of government officials, teachers, students,  artists, and private citizens.  Significant developments have been the Takaoka Koshimae Scholarship Fund, endowed by a prominent citizen of Takaoka, and the Fort Wayne Chapman Exchange Fund, endowed by a charter member of Fort Wayne Sister Cities International.

Fort Wayne Bishop Luers High School and Takaoka Fushiki School have a sister-school relationship, as do Fort Wayne Carroll High School and Takaoka Kogei School, Fort Wayne Snider High School and Takaoka Commercial School, and North Side High School and Koryo High School.

(Carroll High School, by the way, is my mother’s alma mater).

Takaoka has several noteworthy attractions, including the Great Buddha of Takaoka, which is 53-feet tall, making it the third largest Buddha statue in Japan; the Zuiryū-ji Temple, a Zen temple built in 1663 and is now designated as a national treasure of Japan; and Kanayamachi, an area of the city that features traditional buildings dating back to the Meiji Era.

A local master demonstrates kendo with one of his students at the 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival in Fort Wayne. (Photo by Nathan Marchand)

Because of the relationship between Fort Wayne and Takaoka, the Allen County Public Library has hosted an annual event for over a decade called the Cherry Blossom Festival. In many ways, it’s like a one-day comic-con, except focused on Japanese culture. I attended it last year but was unable to do so this year because of other commitments. When I went, I was able to attend events showcasing kendo, katanas, taiko drumming, and haiku. There were vendors selling manga (Japanese comic books), kimonos, and artwork, among other things. It was great fun.

There are other connections as well. There’s a restaurant in downtown Fort Wayne called Takaoka of Japan. Fort Wayne Sister Cities International publishes a newsletter called Kawara-Ban about the Japanese community in the city. Cherry blossom trees have been planted across the city.

Was Takaoka ever featured in a Godzilla/kaiju film? As far as we can tell, no. However, since Japanese culture is a major focus of Kaijuvision Radio, and this has local significance for Brian and I, it was something we thought was important to mention here. It’s a local sign of Japan’s “gross national cool,” which is how most Americans know that country. We don’t have to go far to experience Japanese culture, and I’m sure the same is true of you, G-fans and kaiju lovers.

So, once we start dropping episodes on your favorite podcatcher, go for a walk at a local Japanese-themed attraction while you listen to us.

You can learn more about Takaoka here.