Mayor Shirley Martin-Smith and Commissioner Bob Walters, just back from their trip to Lawrence's newest sister city, already are looking forward to hosting Japanese friends here.
The two held a news conference Friday afternoon to detail their trip to Hiratsuka, Japan. The two led a 12-member delegation on the trip, which was highlighted by the signing of a sister city agreement between Lawrence and Hiratsuka.
MARTIN-SMITH and Walters both expressed their hope that Lawrence residents would open their arms in a similar manner to the Japanese when a delegation from Hiratsuka visits here in late October.
"I really feel that the citizens of this community would absolutely enjoy the mayor and other council members, and I would really hope they take that opportunity," Martin-Smith said.
Hiratsuka Mayor Kyoichi Ishikawa and 15 members of the Hiratsuka City Council will visit Lawrence Oct. 28-30. Martin-Smith and Walters said the event will be coordinated by the Lawrence organization, Friends of Hiratsuka.
ALTHOUGH DETAILS of the Lawrence activities are still being settled, Martin-Smith said the visit would be more relaxed in tone than was the trip to Japan.
Walters explained that all of the activities in Japan were formal and filled with pomp and circumstance. One of Mayor Ishikawa's expressed wishes upon saying farewell to the Lawrence guests, he said, was that the visit in Lawrence would be informal and relaxed.
Throughout the trip to Japan, Martin-Smith and Walters said, representatives of the two cities sowed the seeds for a fruitful, lasting relationship highlighted by cultural, educational and economic exchanges.
"Certainly economic development is an important item," Walters said.
Walters said the exchanges with Hiratsuka may grow a little slower than those with Eutin, Germany, Lawrence's sister of one year. But he said he expects the exchanges to flourish.
ALONG WITH relating their adventures in Japan, which included visits to a Japanese school, a tour of a Nissan automobile plant, and a variety of receptions and ceremonies, Martin-Smith and Walters also displayed a variety of gifts from Lawrence's newest sister city.
Included in their cache from Japan were a vase, a tea cup, flags and a number of other souvenirs.