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In 2019, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Boston's first formal Sister City partnership signed with the City of Kyoto on June 24, 1959.

The friendship began when Mayor Takayama of Kyoto visited Boston for a conference. He was struck that both cities were centers of culture and education. He proposed that Boston and Kyoto partner for official cultural exchange and Mayor John Hynes of Boston accepted.

The similarities between the two cities remain striking. Both Kyoto and Boston have thriving populations of several million people, living in urban areas with distinctive, historical landmarks. Residents of both cities enjoy outdoor recreation along the riverside - the Charles River in Boston and the Kamogawa River in Kyoto. Their climates are also similar and both are destinations for tourists to view autumn foliage.


Boston "Sister City" head welcomed in Kyoto, Japan. (From the City of Boston archives.)

Gifts Exchanged Between the Cities

On the 20th anniversary of the sister-city friendship, the City of Kyoto donated a traditional Japanese-style house to the Boston Children's Museum. The home was painstakingly disassembled, shipped across the ocean, and re-assembled in piece by piece at the Children's Museum.

The City of Boston gave the City of Kyoto several sculptures matching those found in Boston, including the Boy and Bird fountain by Bashka Paeff located next to the famous George Washington statue in the Boston Public Garden. In addition, the City of Boston gave a gas lamp, once installed in front of the Massachusetts State House. The Boston Gas Lamp is now displayed in front of the Kyoto City Hall.

Additional Information

City of Boston Official Webpage
Sister Cities - Kyoto, Japan

City of Kyoto Official Webpage
Sister Cities - Boston, United States
Boston's 9 Sister Cities: A Quick Guide
By Kelsey Luing, October 28, 2014
Boston, Kyoto Celebrate 50-year Bond
By James Smith, August 27, 2009

The Boston Globe

Sister act: Boston celebrates 60 years of urban kinship with lovely, laid-back Kyoto

By Christopher Muther, October 31, 2019

Boston Children's Museum
Timeline exploring the installation of the traditional Japanese house at the Museum

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