For nearly a quarter of a century, Fujisawa-man Katsushi Miura has exchanged a Christmas gift with his former Sister City Exchange hosts in Blackwater, the Lennox family.
When the pandemic disrupted the Japanese airmail service, and without knowing how to email, Mr Miura contacted his local council in Ichinoseki to help. A few emails later and thanks to two council staff from two countries, Mrs Gaylene Lennox received a phone call with a Christmas message and news that there would be no postcard in 2020.
Mrs Lennox said her family was surprised but happy to learn of Mr Miura’s struggle to reach out. His plight to make sure they knew he had not forgotten about them is part of a long-standing friendship of care and respect, instigated by council’s Sister City relationship and annual exchange program.
‘We think of Fujisawa when there are earthquakes and tsunamis on television,’ Mrs Lennox said.
‘Our daughter, Tamara, fondly remembers a trip up to the mountains with the Miura family, how cold it was, the fireworks and how well she was looked after by her host family.’
‘It’s wonderful to have this friendship of two countries, to learn each other’s culture and appreciate our lifestyles.’
Mr Miura seconded the sentiment and said he had kept in contact for so long because the Lennox family looked after him so well.
He said the families had tried to talk on the phone before, but language barriers made it hard to hold a conversation.
Mr Miura visited Blackwater in 1997 and he came well prepared, having his teeth treated by a local dentist to be able to eat the ‘Aussie steak’. He had heard the steaks were a bit tough and chewy compared to Japanese beef. In hindsight, he fondly remembers the tender and delicious steak from Blackwater that was ‘against all expectations’.
Both families have accumulated a collection of cards and gifts from one another. There is little doubt they will be shared as reminders of the values of true lasting friendship for generations to come.
Katsushi Miura (left image) and Gaylene Lennox and daughter Tamara (right image) with their respective collections of memorabilia.