The fish flag flying from the pole in front of City Hall this week signifies one thing: Friends from Japan are visiting.

The fish flag flying from the pole in front of City Hall this week signifies one thing: Friends from Japan are visiting.

The flag is a gift from Sayama, Japan, and the city always displays it when a group from its sister city is in town.

This week, the city is welcoming eight college-age visitors with their three escorts, who arrived this past Saturday night, March 24.

On Tuesday evening, three businessmen were scheduled to land at Port Columbus. They planned to join the younger visitors and to talk to business leaders about establishing business ties with Worthington.

All are from Sayama, which has been Worthington's sister city since 1999.

Each year, delegations travel to and from Worthington for goodwill, friendship, cultural exchange and education. The two cities have shared artwork, and groups of performers and athletes have made the trip.

When the earthquake hit Japan last year, Sayama was only slightly impacted. Still, Worthington set up communications and sent aid to its Japanese friends.

"Our bond is getting stronger and stronger," Nobuko Shimada said during a welcoming ceremony at the Worthington Municipal Building on Monday morning. She is one of the chaperones accompanying the young adults.

Following opening remarks from Mayor Harvey Minton, city manager Matt Greeson, and public information officer Anne Brown, the group was off for a tour of the city. They planned to see the fire station, the community center, the Orange Johnson House and the Old Worthington Library.

On Tuesday, the group was to visit Ohio State University, including the Medical Center, a dorm room, the Ohio Union and a classroom.

After that, the visitors were to take a Columbus tour, seeing the Short North, Arena District, North Market, downtown and German Village.

On Wednesday, the business group was to meet with economic development director Jeff Harris; Kathryn Paugh, director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce; and Jonathan Mooers, member of the Worthington International Friendship Association.

The young people were to visit Phoenix Middle School, Worthington Estates Elementary School, Worthingway Middle School, Granby Elementary School, Worthington Kilbourne High School and the Columbus Japanese Language School.

On March 29, the Sayama businessmen were scheduled to visit with local businesses, and the young people were to spend time with the local families with whom they were staying.

On March 30, both groups were scheduled to tour the American Whistle Factory; make candles at Candle Lab; eat lunch at the Worthington Inn; make stationery at Igloo Letter Press; and shop in Old Worthington.

The visit was to end on Friday evening with a reception at the McConnell Arts Center, followed by a musical performance by guitarists Richard Smith and Julie Adams.