Concord, Massachusetts and Nanae, Hokkaido
Soon after Commodore Matthew Perry and representatives of the Emperor of Japan signed the 1854 Treaty of Kanagawa, the doors to Japan were open to the west. Closed for more than two centuries, the port of Simoda and soon the port of Hakodate in Hokkaido were open to American ships for trade and to take on coal and other supplies.
In the 1850’s, the new Emperor Meiji instituted a bold plan to modernize Japan. Many New Englanders were enlisted to help develop the northernmost island of Hokkaido. In 1876, Dr. William S. Clark, then President of Massachusetts Agricultural College, went to Hokkaido with three graduate students, including William Wheeler from Concord. They assisted in founding Sapporo Agricultural College, now Hokkaido University. The mission of Clark and his students was to introduce agriculture suitable for a northern climate and dairy farming. Dr. Clark returned to Massachusetts in 1877 and for the next three years, Professor William Wheeler took over the administration of the college. Wheeler built a military drill hall that with the addition of a clock from Boston became the Clock Tower, the symbol of Sapporo. Wheeler’s achievements were acknowledged by the Emperor with the singular honor of the Fifth Order of the Rising Sun.
In 1931, Massachusetts Agricultural College became Massachusetts State College and in 1947, the University of Massachusetts. The relationship between Hokkaido University and UMASS was rekindled in 1976 at the time of Hokkaido University’s Centennial. In 1990, Massachusetts formalized the sister state relationship with Hokkaido. After a five year courtship, Nanae Town and Concord established a sister city relationship that was approved by a nearly unanimous vote by Concord's 1997 Town Meeting.
Nanae is a town of 23,773 located a short distance from the major city of Hakodate in southwestern Hokkaido. The main industry is agriculture. Nanae is a portion of the Hakodate Technopolis Project. The mission of the project is to develop a "brain intensive" industrial park. The town owns the Onuma Quasi National Park. The park includes the majestic live volcano Mt. Komagatake and two caldera lakes.
The Concord Public Schools and the Concord-Carlisle High School have had relationships with Nanae and its schools since 1994. The Thoreau, Willard, and Alcott Schools have affiliations with the Onuma, Togeshita, and Fujishiro Elementary Schools. The Concord Middle School hosted five students and a teacher each year from 1995-2002. The Concord-Carlisle High School has hosted students each fall since 1997 and the CCHS Concert Band went to Nanae in 1998, 2004, and 2007.
In addition to the relationship with Nanae, Concord-Carlisle High School has a second extraordinary relationship - with Sapporo's Shiroishi High School. On March 28, 2008, one hundred and eighty Concord-Carlisle band students joined one hundred students from the Shiroishi Symphonic Wind Ensemble for a cross cultural celebration of music. The concert was the second time for both high schools to perform in Boston's Symphony Hall.
That this fantastic event could happen is due, in part, to the willingness of people in both high schools to tackle the logistics of transporting so many students and their instruments. It is also due to the mutual respect of two sister states engaged in a friendly 132 year old relationship.
Concord - Nanae Photo Gallery . . . . .