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Sister city delegation from Kami City, Japan, visits Largo

Yuri Fukujyu, an 11th-grader at Yamada High School in Kami City, Japan, is part of the 24-member Sister City delegation visiting Largo this week from Kami City. 

Piper Castillo | Times

Yuri Fukujyu, an 11th-grader at Yamada High School in Kami City, Japan, is part of the 24-member Sister City delegation visiting Largo this week from Kami City. 


Along with millions of people across the United States, they'll participate in an ultimate American celebration today. The 24-member Sister City delegation from Kami City, Japan will head out to a Super Bowl party.

It's Day Number 5 in the visit, which marks the 40-year relationship between Largo and Kami City. George Feaster, who helped co-found the program through his work with Largo Lions Club in the mid-1960s, and his wife, Kim, will play host.

Since Wednesday, the visitors, including students from Yamada High School, teachers and Japanese dignitaries, have dined at the Thirsty Marlin, toured the Salvador Dali Museum, observed classes at Largo High School, watched police and firefighter demonstrations, and, of course, explored Pinellas County's beaches.

"Most are experiencing a different culture for the first time,'' said Hatsue Kitahara, an assistant principal at Yamada High School.

When they return home to the rural town in southern Japan, they'll have trinkets from Epcot, as well as pins and T-shirts from the city of Largo, honoring the 40-year relationship.

Mayor Pat Gerard, who, along with her husband Eric, hosted Akihiro Ishikawa, a hotel owner and vice chairman of the Kami City assembly, hopes they also leave with a great impression of her city. "I hope they remember us as gracious hosts,'' she said.

As part of the program, Bethany Hawkins, Largo High School's human geography and world history instructor, traveled to Japan last summer. Last week, she served as a tour guide. "When I traveled there, they were so open and welcoming, and I'm enjoying returning the favor.''

It was toward the end of 1969 when the relationship became official. "We decided to work on it in 1967, but it took two years to put the plan together,'' Feaster recalled. "Remember, there were no fax machines. We'd write letters back and forth. Everything took so long.''

Feaster has traveled to Japan five times since then. "Of course, Largo has grown too, but for example, when I first traveled there, the women wore traditional robes, now they dress as Westerners.''

The Feasters' Super Bowl party is being held in the fellowship hall at St. Dunstan's Church. They're planning for 200 guests.

And what's on the menu?

"Buzzard's Breath Chili. It's an old family recipe I make with venison,'' said Feaster. "And we'll also be serving sushi.''

Sister city delegation from Kami City, Japan, visits Largo 02/06/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 6:16pm]
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