Hanamaki in northern Japan cheers on the United States, its “Arigato” Host Town Partner, with an exchange event

International Exchange

Hanamaki in northern Japan cheers on the United States, its “Arigato” Host Town Partner, with an exchange event

Iwate Prefecture

On November 3rd, 2019 (Sun), Hanamaki City in Iwate, northern Japan, held a special exchange event for elementary students and English teachers from the United States. Participants learned about the Tokyo 2020 Host Town Initiative as well as American sports culture, and then worked together to create banners to cheer on American athletes.

Hanamaki is the “Arigato” Host Town to the United States for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, in large part because of aid from the United States following the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. Hanamaki has also cultivated sister city relationships with Rutland, Vermont, and Hot Springs, Arkansas since the 1980s and 1990s respectively.

About the event

1. Date and Time: November 3, 2019 (Sun) 14:00-16:00
2. Place: Nahan Plaza (Hanamaki City’s Cultural Exchange Center near Hanamaki Station)
3. Target: Around 40 Hanamaki elementary school students (grades 3 and up)
4. Teachers: Four English teachers from the United States, and one Japanese teacher of English = 5 teachers
5. Details 
The event started off with students gathering in groups for an opening ceremony. There, city officials talked about the “Arigato” Host Town Initiative. Each group then visited with the American teachers and the booths they had set up. They moved from booth to booth to chat with the teachers. The teachers talked with the students about popular sports and sports stars in the US, how Americans typically watch sports, and what Olympic sport they were most interested in.

The students had a short break, where they got to eat classic American festival fare like popcorn and cotton candy. Then they worked with the American teachers to create banners to cheer on the American Olympic teams. Teachers wrote messages in English, while the students drew pictures and designed the banners. Some students even challenged themselves to write messages in English.

They will send off the banners to USA Track and Field, who are sure to love this cross-cultural show of support.


International Relations Office, Department of Lifelong Learning
Hanamaki City Government
TEL: 0198-24-2111
FAX: 0198-24-0259


Office of International Affairs
Iwate Prefectural Government
TEL: 019-629-5764
Email: AB0011@pref.iwate.jp
(English or Japanese language inquiries)


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