Chicago Shimpo
Commemorative Plaque Unveiled
on Mag Mile to Honor
1st Anniversary of Chicago, Osaka Sister Streets Partnership

A plaque was unveiled on Michigan Avenue in Chicago on June 6, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the sister-street partnership between Michigan Avenue and Midousuji Boulevard in Osaka, the thoroughfare that symbolizes the prosperity of Chicago’s sister city.

A year ago, then Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura visited Chicago to celebrate the 45th year of the Chicago-Osaka sister-city relationship. On June 6, 2018, Yoshimura and then Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed the sister-street partnership agreement between Chicago’s “Mag Mile” and Osaka’s Midousuji in honor of the anniversary.

The plaque memorializes the story of the relationship between the two cities, along with a photo of Midousuji.

At the unveiling ceremony, Rich Gamble, Chair of the Magnificent Mile Association, stressed that the main focus of the partnership remains on tourism, technical information exchanges and best practices for planning in public and private partnerships.

The two great avenues share many attributes that make them world-class destinations, Gamble said. Their beautiful, tree-lined streets, landscaped gardens, great shopping experience and cultural activities are part of such attributes.

“While the Magnificent Mile works for its Vision 2020 plan, Midousuji strives to achieve its vision for a people-centered street,” added Gamble. “We’ll continue to generate long-term benefits through information exchange between us.”

Consul-General of Japan in Chicago Naoki Ito, who attended the ceremony, said he was sure he’d see more of Osaka on Mag Mile and more of Chicago on Midousuji in the future. “My hope is that food trucks will sell [Osaka’s] famous takoyaki [street snack] on Mag Mile, and Chicago will sell Chicago dogs on Midousuji.”

Ito noted that a group of Japanese landscape specialists were visiting the Japanese garden in Jackson Park (the Garden of the Phoenix that includes the area called the Osaka Garden) as part of the Japanese government’s restoration project for Japanese gardens overseas. Specifically, five landscape architects, accompanied by two Osaka city officials and two government officials, worked on the garden from June 13 to 17.

Furthermore, people from Osaka may be able to join the Chicagoans later this year for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, the city’s annual holiday-season event.
“I’m very pleased that we can recognize once again the strong, long-standing bonds between Chicago and Osaka,” Ito said.

Kimiyo Naka, Chair of the Osaka Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, stressed the committee’s resolution to foster mutual understanding and cooperation between the two cities through citizen diplomacy and presented a message from Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui.

In the message, Matsui congratulated the occasion as a symbol of the sister-city relationship that shares many common features such as prime business and culinary destinations. He also celebrated Osaka’s involvement in the Japanese garden restoration project.

“I’m convinced that these bilateral interactions, inspired by this sister-street initiative, continue to extend beyond citizen diplomacy to educational and business exchange, which will raise our friendly ties to a higher level,” Matsui’s message concluded.

The ceremony closed with a performance by Chicago-based musician Yoko Noge and the Osaka Blues Women Band, directly from Osaka.

The commemorative plaque was temporarily installed this day in front of Tiffany & Co. on Michigan Avenue. The alderman from this ward has approved the installation, but it requires an official approval of the entire Chicago City Council to make it permanent. The wait until the approval is expected to be about three months.

Japanese Garden Overseas Restoration Project

There are more than 500 Japanese gardens outside Japan, and some of them are in need of better care and appropriate maintenance. Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism launched a project in 2017 to initiate and support restoration efforts for such gardens.

The Japanese government recognizes that Japanese gardens across the globe contribute to spreading Japan’s landscape and gardening technique (what it calls “Green Diplomacy”) as well as better understanding of Japanese culture. Accordingly, the project dispatches landscape specialists to work on those gardens, at the request of the local Japanese consulates and sister cities organizations. It also provides local garden administrators with manuals for Japanese garden maintenance.

The Ministry has laid out 50 restoration plans for the first five years of the project. Chicago’s Phoenix Garden is one of the eight restoration targets listed for fiscal 2019.

Commemorative plaque was unveiled on Michigan Ave. in Chicago to celebrate the first anniversary of the sister-street partnership between Michigan Avenue and Midosuji Boulevard in Onsaka City.

From right: Rich Gamble, Chair of the Magnificent Mile Association, Consul General Naoki Ito, Andrea Zopp, President and CEO of World Business Chicago, and Kimiyo Naka, Chair of Osaka Committee, Chicago Sister Cities International

Yoko Noge and the members of the Osaka Blues Women Band, directly from Osaka, perform to celebrate the sister-street partnership between Mag Mile and Midosuji.

A group of Japanese landscape specialists work for restoration in the Phoenix Garden including Osaka Garden in Jackson Park. (Photo credit: the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago)