Mayor Miyakoshi's Visit to Australia

Yoko Ishizuka

Yoshikazu Kondo

To Australia with Mayor
Written by Yoko Ishizuka
Translated into English by Yoshikazu Kondo

Our Mayor visited Australia in October with two members of Japan-Australia Society of Joetsu, namely Yoshi and myself.  I have written the following about the trip.

On October 8, we left Narita.  On the morning of the 9th, we visited the Sydney 2000 Olympic site and the office of SOCOG, an acronym for Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, to listen to a presentation regarding volunteers and environmental issues for the Games.  At 1 p.m., we attended a luncheon which included such guests as Mr. and Mrs. Jack Mudie, Mr. John Robertson, Mrs. Marjorie Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. John Cook, Mrs. Joy Lee, Mrs. Pat Hole, and Mr. Rod Yates, some of whom were ex-POWs and others relatives of ex-POWs. All the invitees seemed to have enjoyed it very much. I felt quite relieved that the most important event for us had passed with ease.  I was told to pass their best regards to the Joetsu people.

at Homebush
At Homebush, which is the mail Olympic site in 2000

The following day, October 10, we left for Cowra.  We met Mayor of Cowra and Mrs. Libby Reed, who was the Manager of the Cowra Japanese Garden.  With their cooperation, our Mayor planted a cherry tree at a place near the former POW Campsite.  That evening, we had a dinner party with, amongst others, the Cowra Mayor and Mr. Takahashi, the new Japanese ambassador to Australia, who had arrived in the country only a few days before.  In total there were about fifty Japanese and Australians in attendance.  When some people started playing the shamisen and shakuhachi, the party really began to get livelier.

On October 11, we attended a memorial service at the Australian and Japanese Cemetery after which we attended a luncheon.  Using the excuse that Roger had come all the way from Molong to see us, Yoshi and I slipped out from the luncheon, and three of us went to a restaurant in town together.

At 2 p.m., we left for Canberra by bus.  On October 12, some members of the Canberra Australia-Japan Society showed us around the Australian War Memorial Museum.  The museum's Director and Superintendents waited for us and allowed us to enter before opening time.  After Mayor laid a wreath on the "Tomb of The Unknown Soldiers," they led us through the exhibition areas.  Among all the fallen soldiers' names inscribed on the wall, we found the name, Lt. Colonel A. Robertson.

In the following meeting with Ms. Kate Carnell, Chief Minister, she remembered me and, to my surprise, greeted me, calling "Yoko".  I had met her two months previously, making it the fourth time we had met each other.  She evaluated the citizen's movement in Joetsu as the driving force, which erected the statues of Peace and Friendship at the former POW campsite.  The discussion between the two Mayors was so lively that our time seemed to pass much too quickly.  I actually felt uneasy that our Mayor had continued talking to her so long.

Following that, we were treated to a formal luncheon with senior officials of DFAT, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  I enjoyed it because I was able to meet Mr. Bill Paterson and Ms. Glenda Gauci, whom I had showed around in Joetsu when they had visited us.  He said the most impressive event he attended in Japan had been the one held in Joetsu.  Accordingly, I made a mental note to ensure I would convey his thoughtful message to the people of Joetsu.

After the luncheon, hosted by Alan Thomas of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we had a round-table conference concerning trade-resources between Japan and Australia.  The Manager of the DFAT Japan Section was Mr. John Woods, whose father was a POW in Japan.  I informed him that we had built the statues at the park and also asked him to hand to his father, the doll that I had brought with me from Japan.

at Department of Foreign Afairs and Trade

We invited the President of ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Australia-Japan Society, its two Vice Presidents, and an ex-President to dinner that evening, which gave us an opportunity to thank them for their favor in recent times.

The next morning, we got up early to catch a small plane to Sydney, where we visited the regatta course which would be used for the upcoming 2000 Olympics.  Our lunch was held at a restaurant atop Sydney Tower.  We dined that evening with Rod at a Japanese restaurant, which Mr. Somukawa from Takada had kindly reserved for us in advance.

Following that, Mayor and the city officials headed for Sydney airport, and Yoshi and I accompanied Rod to his home.  We spent 3 relaxing days at Rod's place which was still undergoing some construction.

On the first day of our own itinerary, being independent of the formal one, we visited Jack's home and on the second day, John's and enjoyed their respective company very much.  On the third day, Yoshi and I went to the City by train to do some shopping.  Upon our return, we took both the train and the bus, thoroughly enjoying the adventure.

Trying to get some honey with Rod.
@I tried to take out honey from hives: HORRIBLE!

Rod took a good deal of time away from his work to drive us around, for which we were truly grateful.  Although we must have been quite some trouble to him, he never let his displeasure show.  He even looked as though he was enjoying himself as much as we were; actually, he said when his home was completed, he would accept Japanese people who visited Australia for study or homestay.  Anyone with such goals in mind, I urge you to visit him.

In the evening of October 16, Rod, John and Terri came to the airport to see us off.  Although we were heading home, we felt as though we had left a part of our heart behind in Australia.

Now that I am back home in Japan, I play with our grandchildren as Grandma, feeling the "Rip Van Winkle effect" has really taken its toll on me.  Nevertheless, I muse to myself without any regret at all that I never acted my age in Australia.


Visit to Australia in '98
Written and translated into English by Yoshikazu Kondo

I write about some wonderful experiences I had during the trip.

At Sydney Airport
When we arrived at Sydney Airport, John, an ex-POW, and Rod, a son of an ex-POW, were there to meet us.  John said: "When we visited Japan three years ago, you came all the way to Narita Airport to meet us.  Likewise whenever you visit Sydney, I will come here to meet you." Deeply moved by his words at the beginning of the trip, I had a hunch that our trip would be a great one.

Lost in Cowra
Looking for Roger, who had visited Joetsu in April, '98, I alone got off a bus at the Japanese Gardens; however I couldn't find him.  Having no alternatives, I decided to walk all the way to the hotel.  With a map of Cowra in hand, which I had received at the Garden office, I started off.  After a while, due to my poor sense of direction I got lost in no time at all.

Along the road, I asked a man who was tending his garden, for directions.  It would have only taken him a minute or so to have told me the way, but he quickly digressed from the matter at hand and began talking about his garden; his garden, trees, and flowers -- he went on and on for about 5 minutes.  Even as I left I heard him continuing his monologue: there are only two traffic signals in Cowra, etc, etc.. truly quite extraordinary!

Students I met on the way were very friendly.  They waved at me, saying "Hi!" or "Hello," and I returned greetings.  I thought to myself that they were particularly amiable children.  Drivers of passing cars were friendly, too.  When they passed me, some blew their horn, and others waved their hands.  I think those actions by the residents would leave favorable impressions of the town on visitors.  Well, it was not such a bad thing to get lost in a safe friendly town such as this one.

at Japanese Garden
At the entrance of the Japanese Garden

Unexpected Reunion
We had luncheon with some senior officials of DFAT, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, at the restaurant within the Royal Canberra Golf Course.  I met Mr. Bill Patterson there, who was the last person I expected to see.  I first met Bill at Narita Airport when I went there to meet the Australian delegation and guide them to Naoetsu three years ago.  He was there to help Australian visitors through the entry formalities, being as he was, the attache at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.  I met him at the hotel where the Australian visitors stayed and also in Joetsu.

Three years later, we met each other again in Canberra.  He delighted me by saying: "During my three-year stay in Japan, the most impressive event were the opening ceremonies of the Park."

Upon parting, he said: "Pay me a private visit next time, not an official one like this." I felt overjoyed to have been left with the impression that "Seeds we had scattered before came up at unexpected places".  I strongly hope that more and more seeds would spring up like that in the future.

Everyone in Australia is Australian.
Let's get back to Cowra.  After the dinner party, we drove back to our hotel with a lady from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  The words she said in the car were the most impressive during my trip to Australia in '98. "All the people in Australia are Australians."

At the International Volunteer Academy sponsored by Joetsu City, we discussed "the barrier-free environment for foreigners." In my view, one of the biggest barriers we have is our manner, which excludes people, or things that look different to ours.

Similar to the words spoken by that lady in Cowra, when we come to think that all the people in Joetsu are Joetsu-ites, our city would be more barrier-free, not only for foreigners but for us all.

before Harbour Bridge
At the Circular Quey

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