Since 1968, Seward has had a sister-city relationship with Obihiro, Japan. Obihiro is located on the northern island of Hokkaido. This relationship began during the tenure of then-Seward Mayor Bob Richardson and Yasuhiko Ohsono. Seward and Obihiro have exchanged students each year since 1973. Seward presents the city of Obihiro, Japan with an Alaskan Gold Pan as a Mayor's Trophy for their annual Heigen Festival, and Obihiro, Japan presents Seward with many Fourth of July Mt. Marathon trophies and a Silver Salmon Derby trophy each year. In the early years, Seward gifted Obihiro with a live alaskan moose, that held residence in their zoo for many years.
Some highlights include:
In 1982, the Seward High School Band and Choir were invited to be a part of Obihiro's Centennial celebration.
In 1992, Obihiro's 110th anniversary was attended by a delegation from Seward in conjunction with the 25th Seward/Obihiro Sister City Anniversary celebrated in Seward the following year. The pagoda on the Waterfront Park bike trail was a 25th Anniversary gift to us from the City of Obihiro.
In 2002, Obihiro celebrated their 120th anniversary and invited Mayor Edgar Blatchford and a group of 25 delegates from Seward to join in the celebration in October and November. Seward reciprocated by inviting Obihiro officials and citizens to Seward in 2003 for the city's 100th birthday. Founding father Yasuhiko Ohsono was in attendance.
In 2004, Yasuhiko Ohsono set up a fund administered by the Obihiro Friendship Committee and the Seward International Friendship Association, to conduct the Adult Citizen Exchange (ACE) so local adults could also enjoy an annual exchange. This donation would run for 10 years with each city receiving 1 million yen apiece.
for more information on Obihiro and the student exchange program.
for a 2013 Student Exchange Application.
for the 2013 Open Letter to Parents.