Sister City beginnings: Newcastle and Ube
On 21 November 1980, the City of Newcastle signed a Sister City agreement with Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan as a gesture of goodwill, mutual understanding and friendship. Sister Cities foster cultural, educational and economic relations between communities and promote peaceful co-existence worldwide.
The declaration was signed by the City's first female Lord Mayor, the late Joy Cummings, and Mayor of Ube City, the late Mr Hideo Futatsugi. There was a symbolic exchange of gifts at the ceremony, with the City of Newcastle presenting Ube an inscribed plaque bearing the City's coat of arms, while Ube gifted Newcastle a Kabuto (Samurai Helmet).
Mayor of Ube, Mr Hideo Futatsugi, and Newcastle Lord Mayor Joy Cummings sign the declaration while Town Clerk Barrie Lewis looks on. Image courtesy Newcastle Libraries Local History Collections.
Joy was instrumental in the establishment of the Sister City link, believing our two bugeoning port harbour cities, of similar population size and industrial background in coal exports and steel manufacturing, had much in common.
Over the decades, Newcastle and Ube have developed strong connections in education, youth exchange, economics, sport and art. Local high schools, Newcastle, Merewether, Kotara and Wallsend High enjoy annual student exchanges with Ube, which afford an immersive cultural experience, while the University of Newcastle's Language Centre embraces Japanese language, art and culture.
Newcastle Art Gallery holds one of the largest collections of Sodeisha ceramics outside of Japan, with 58 of the 62 original works of art featured in the SODEISHA: Avant-Garde Japanese Ceramics exhibition gifted to the Gallery at the conclusion of the national touring exhibition in 1981. Some of these were featured in the Gallery's curated exhibition, SODEISHA: connected to Australia in March 2019.
Some of the works featured in the SODEISHA: connected to Australia exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery, March 2019.
Celebrating 40 years of Sister City history
On 21 November 2020, the City of Newcastle and Ube City celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Sister City signing. The City recognised the occasion and the ongoing significance of the relationship with a commemorative book, titled Sister Cities Newcastle and Ube: celebrating 40 years, with Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes presenting a copy to the Consul-General of Japan in Sydney, Mr KIYA Masahiko. The City also launched a curated, interactive digital story-wall exhibition at the City Administration Centre's Digital Library, showcasing some of the unique pieces of our Sister City history with Ube.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes presents the commemorative book to the Consul-General of Japan in Sydney, Mr KIYA Masahiko, in front of the digital story-wall exhibition at the Digital Library.
Newcastle and Ube: celebrating 40 years
While the global COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from celebrating the milestone in person, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes filmed this video message, which was screened at the annual Ube Festival online. The City of Newcastle looks forward to the continuation of our friendship and shared support with Ube over the years to come.