AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin and Austin Sister Cities International will host a Japanese cultural festival at the Asian American Resource Center on Sunday, marking a 33-year partnership with sister city Oita, Japan.
The event, which runs from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., will include performances, hands-on activities and vendors. Tickets for the event are already sold out, but Austin-Oita Sister City Committee Chair Kristie Bryant said that day-of tickets will become available as earlier attendees leave the event.
“It’s pretty amazing for anybody who has looked at plane ticket prices recently. If you come on Sunday, you’ll be able to experience the tastes, the sounds and the culture of Japan,” Bryant said.
Bryant, who has been with the committee since nearly the beginning of the partnership, said that Oita and Austin were fairly comparable back then.
“Oita has stayed about the same size as it did back then. Austin now has totally changed [in comparison],” Bryant said. “We have a really strong relationship, one of the strongest relationships Austin has…although we have many beautiful relationships with other cities as well.”
Austin’s growing family of Sister Cities
Currently, Austin has 13 sister cities, including Saltillo, Mexico, Koblenz, Germany and Pune, India.
Bryant, who also chairs the Austin Sister Cities International board of directors, said that leaders in Florence, Italy, will sign a two-year memorandum of understanding next week — the first step in becoming Austin’s 14th sister city. Another city being looked at as a potential sister city is Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“During that two-year period, we establish the programs and we make sure that it’s going to be a good fit,” Bryant said. “Austin is a very popular place and we’re approached often about becoming sister cities with people. We’re looking for cities that are similar to Austin…and the things that are important to Austin — our running culture, our music culture.”
The work of the committee is entirely volunteer and citizen-driven basis, according to Bryant. She first became involved in the work as an undergraduate at the University of Texas in Austin’s International Studies Department.
“I think that truly that if we know our neighbors, that we will not go to war against our neighbors. And in this day and age, sister cities are even more important than they ever have been. I think it’s a really worthwhile program,” Bryant said.