Worthington welcomed a mayor's delegation from its sister city, Sayama, Japan, from Oct. 2 to 5.

Correction: The Oct. 11 print version of this story incorrectly identified two subjects in the photo and stated an incorrect year for the last mayor's delegation visit.

Worthington welcomed a mayor's delegation from its sister city, Sayama, Japan, from Oct. 2 to 5.

Worthington and Sayama's relationship goes back more than 20 years: The two became friendship cities in 1993 and sister cities in 1999.

A sister city is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries, according to the website for Sister Cities International, a nonprofit diplomacy network that helps organize such partnerships. A friendship city, by comparison, is less permanent and is used as a pathway to the more formal sister-city agreement, according to Sister Cities International.

Both usually will have formal documents that specify what types of exchanges the two communities plan and other specifics, according to Sister Cities International.

Worthington has no other friendship or sister cities.

The relationship with Sayama began in 1993 when leaders from the Japanese city were looking for a central Ohio counterpart to identify as a friendship city, according to worthington.org.

Over the years, the two cities have exchanged artists, sports teams and residents, according to Worthington spokeswoman Anne Brown.

The sister-city program is designed to promote cultural exchange and understanding between the two countries and to help Worthington residents understand the Japanese culture, Brown said.

"It's important to continue that effort; I think a lot of people made a lot of effort to work out, to keep the relationship," said Tsuyoshi Koyano, mayor of Sayama.

It has been about 10 years since Worthington has sent any youths over to Sayama, according to Brown.

A group of Sayama residents last came to Worthington in 2017, she said, and Worthington residents last went to Sayama in 2016.

The last mayor’s delegation visit to Worthington from Sayama was in 2013, she said. The last mayor’s visit from Worthington to Sayama was in 2014.

When a mayor's delegation visits, the visitors pay for airfare and Worthington pays for everything while they are in the city, Brown said. If it is a group of Worthington residents, a portion of the plane tickets are paid for by the city, too, Brown said.

The activities for the delegation's recent visit included a tour of the city and local businesses.

Brown and the delegation were accompanied by Kathryn Paugh, president of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Paugh worked in partnership with the economic-development office in Worthington to set up the various business visits for the delegation, Brown said.

On Oct. 2, the delegates sampled beer at Zaftig Brewing Co., paid a visit to the Worthington-based co-working company COhatch and toured Worthington Industries, Sandvik Hyperion and the headquarters for PetPeople.

"All of the places that we're taking them to have that entrepreneurial spirit," Paugh said.

The following day, Oct. 3, officials paid visits to Phoenix Middle School, Worthington Hills Elementary School and Thomas Worthington High School.

At the elementary school, fifth-graders were given a social studies and origami lesson by Sayama officials. The high school visit included a glimpse of the STEM classes offered to students.

Later Oct. 3, the group toured the Orange Johnson House Museum and other homes in Worthington.

The visit concluded with a tour of the Franklin Park Conservatory Botanical Gardens in Columbus near Bexley and Ohio State University.

"We've learned so much about each other over these last 20 years and we're more similar than we are different," Brown said.

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