BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Marking the 25th anniversary of the formal relationship between the states, Gov. Charlie Baker and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Monday welcomed a delegation from the Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido.
Massachusetts and Hokkaido — the northernmost state of Japan — have been linked since about 1876, when William Clark, president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst, journeyed to Japan and helped charter Hokkaido University.
In 1990, the sister state relationship was formalized by Gov. Michael Dukakis and Hokkaido Gov. Takahiro Yokomichi, according to the Massachusetts Hokkaido Association.
On Monday, Baker presented Hokkaido Vice Governor Yoshihiro Yamaya and Speaker of the Hokkaido Legislative Assembly Ren Endo with a gurgling cod as a “symbolic emblem of friendship and history and tradition here in Massachusetts.”
“So when you pour your tea, or your coffee, or your water, or whatever, this will gurgle and you will think of your sister state the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Baker, who also gave a gurgling cod on Sept. 22 to the prime minister of Cape Verde.
The delegation from Hokkaido presented Baker and Rosenberg with a framed weaving that they said represents a wish for good health and happiness, and an engraved woodblock depicting a scene of three thoroughbred horses returning to the stable at sundown.
“We have great respect for the governor who is leading this state, which is one of the 13 original founding states of the country and also known as where the brains of the world gather,” Hokkaido Vice Gov. Yamaya said through a translator.
The Massachusetts Hokkaido Association encourages cultural, educational, scientific and economic exchanges between Massachusetts and Hakkaido.
Along with the sister state relationship are two sister city relationships: Concord with Nanae and Springfield with Takikawa City.
It has been the custom to celebrate the sister state relationship between Massachusetts and Hokkaido every five years, according to the association.
Copyright 2015 State House News Service