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Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead Delegation
Photos of the trip are posted here.  Additional photos will be posted after the trip.

Mayors Delegation Returns from Japan

Bloomington Sister City Organization’s Mayoral Delegation has returned from its 12 day visit to Japan.  Mayor Gene Winstead led the delegation on its visit to sister city, Izumi City, Japan.  The delegation included Mayor Winstead, his wife, 2 daughters and son in-law along with 7 other members including city councilmember Karen Nordstrom, school board member Arlene Bush, BSCO board member Kodo Kawamura and his wife Irene, BSCO board member Luminita Vollmer and Bloomington residents Darrell and Lynne Christensen.   

The delegation arrived in Izumi City on October 8.  Highlights of their trip included participation in the Danjiri Festival which is an annual celebration, a tour of historic Kyoto, a visit to an elementary school and a special reception where they were able to meet with several city officials and members of Izumi City’s Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Winstead and his family were also invited to Izumi City Mayor Tsuji’s home for a special visit that included a tea ceremony. 

The delegation departed for Tokyo on October 15 following their stay in Izumi City.  Their 4 night stay in Tokyo included a city tour and visit to Mount Fuji.  Mayor Winstead and his family visited Tokyo prior to joining the delegation in Izumi City.

Update from delegate Luminita Vollmer, Oct 18, 2010

Once more I want to send an update from Japan, this time from Tokyo. We are spending the last day here, a free for all day before leaving for the airport tomorrow.  For the past two days we took a tour of Tokyo to see important sights in the city, and during the second day to see Mt Fuji and Hinode area. The days got long, but wonderful and everlasting.

I know that our ties with Izumi city have strengthened, and the people have connected for a long time to come. From what I heard in the speeches given by the mayor of Izumi city and the Chamber of Commerce leadership ' this Mayoral VIP trip was very important. It had significant impact to show the city to city connection and relationship. And we certainly have more work to do to make it even stronger. Today is not a day for a motivational speech but rather one of closure of the trip. I am resting, packing my bags, taking one last stroll through the nice Japanese garden at the hotel and am happy that we possibly met our goal successfully.  I am a Board Member, possibly insignificant in the grander scheme of things, but I made some long lasting relationships, and hopefully I can contribute even more to the exchanges that will come in the future. I am glad to return home, as well as sad to leave this place.

I took many pictures of the people we met and the places we´ve been, and to me it means a lot to know that I can share this experience and motivate others, especially younger delegates, to come and visit, and continue the work our organization and our city has started.

Closing with joy and sadness at the same time,  Luminita Vollmer, Tokyo-Japan


Words of thanks from Izumi City 10-15-2010

 Mayor Winstead and his family departed from Kansai airport to Minneapolis safely yesterday,

The other delegates too departed for Tokyo from Sin-Osaka station by bullet train safely yesterday.


All of them are so wonderful, energetic, kind, friendly, and everyone in Izumi enjoyed being with them so much.  We deeply appreciate you sending such a wonderful delegation to Izumi.


The itinerary was packed, and we think they must be so tired, but hope all of them enjoyed their visiting to Japan, in particular, Izumi.  Again, we would like to express our big thanks for sending such a wonderful delegation to Izumi.


Thank you,

Miki Tamura

Izumi City


Update from Luminita Vollmer October 14, 2010

 Today we are checking out of the hotel and off to Tokyo on the train.

Yesterday the group went to Kyoto and it is amazing how the old and the new buildings are mixed together. There is a most modern building and right next to it, a traditional Japanese compound. There is a temple at every corner and a Torii (traditional Japanese gate) on every block.  The Golden Pavilion and the gardens we visited yesterday were amazingly traditional, crowded, beautiful, and unexpectedly awesome. Everyone is enjoying the trip, although we are very tired.  Last night we got to the hotel around 10.  Mr. Shimizu and his staff are doing extraordinary magic to take us through the granite paved streets of Tokyo to the most amazing restaurants with 5 course meals that knock us off our feet. The thought that the Izumi staff has put into this trip is amazing, including counting the feet to walk to certain spots, so we don´t get too tired.   


Today will be the last time we see our new friends in Izumi as they take us to the train station. Last night they even provided small bags with snacks for the delegation for the train ride.  They think of absolutely everything.  This is one amazing trip and I feel so fortunate to be on it.  Tired, lots of walking, interesting things to see, people and places, and not enough time to take it all in.


Update from delegate Luminita Vollmer, October 13, 2010

October 12, we had a reception with the Mayor of Izumi and the Chamber of Commerce representatives.  Everything went well.  Mayor Winstead delivered his speech to Izumi City. The arrangements were outstanding including the meal, seating arrangements, atmosphere and the friendships developing all around the room. 


The day was spent at the elementary school observing the kids in class.  Their school is quite different than the classes in Bloomington. Most differences are in the way the overall activities are carried out.  The kids clean the school; there is no janitor or union.  The kids serve the lunch by rotation to their classmates as there are not any cafeteria staff involved except in cooking the meals for the entire school, which has 764 students. The students did a dancing performance for us using the song Thriller and imitating Michael Jackson´s famous moves.  There was so much energy all around and it brought tears to my eyes when leaving under the canopy of 2 sided flags that said Bloomington and Izumi. Amazing.

This is indeed the true exchange of culture, when people come together.  Kodo Kawamura, Bloomington Delegate, introduced himself to the chamber representatives in Japanese.

October 13th, we will see the Kuboso museum and the glass bead factory. At night we are going to the Taiko drumming school where the membership of students has swelled to 200.

We are all in good spirits and seemed to have adjusted to the local time. The weather is holding out nice and the events keep us going throughout the day. The hotel and the 53floor view is amazing during breakfast, I think everyone will remember these days forever.  We are having breakfast together before we leave for a quiet moment overlooking the Kansai airport.

October 14, we are going to Kyoto and a couple of the Chamber members are coming along, it should be another day of connections and culture transfer.

October 10, 2010

On the very first day, Izumi had a welcome party for the delegation.  Approximately 30 people attended.  Mayor Winstead and his family enjoyed meeting new people.  All delegates enjoyed the Japanese food and seemed to have a good time during this welcome party.


 Most of delegates slept well and they were in good shape to start the next day of activities.  An official welcome ceremony was held at Izumi’s Civic Plaza and included a City to City gift exchange.  Mayor Winstead presented a framed series of photos of Bloomington’s seasons and gave a nice speech.  He respectfully accepted a gift from Izumi City.


The Delegation was then transported to a location where they enjoyed watching Danjiri Festival. It was a rainy day for the festival, however the group seemed to enjoy every moment of this annual event where townspeople pull their Danjiri, or temple cart through town.


Darrell and Lynn Christensen reconnected with Ms. Hatatani, Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Runner who was recently in Bloomington for the 2010 race.   All Izumi students who came to Bloomington this past summer attended dinner and welcomed the group as well.  Mr. Taira and Mr. Ohashi, chaperones from the summer student trip, joined some events as well. 

October 8, 2010
The remainder of the Mayor's delegation landed safely in Osaka and have been joined by the Mayor's family.  Izumi had a large welcome gathering to greet them when they arrived and they enjoyed some great food and company.  They have a busy schedule ahead of them on this trip.  Check back for updates and photos.
October 6, 2010
Mayor Winstead and his family traveled to Tokyo early and send this update:  The weather is warm, in the 70's and humid. No rain yet, but we have our umbrellas.  It is warm during the day. Tokyo is amazing. We have visited Ginza, Harajuku, and Shibuya. Today we will visit Roppingi, Asakusa, and Tokyo Disney.  The people here have been so helpful and kind. Many speak enough English to help us get by. Tomorrow afternoon we board the bullet train to Osaka. We are looking forward to seeing everyone in Osaka. - Rebecca Waldock
Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead to lead VIP delegation to Japan

Mayor Winstead and an adult delegation are on an Official VIP Delegation to our sister city, Izumi City Japan October 7 - 19, 2010.  This delegation will be guests of Mayor Tsuji who recently visited Bloomington (see below).  Included in this trip is an additional stay and touring in Tokyo, details are outlined in the itinerary posted at the bottom of this webpage.  A list of delegate biographies and a copy of the delegate brochure are available at the bottom of the page.  Pictured above:  Delegates preparing for departure.  Photos of their trip will be posted on the BSCO photolog here.
Mayor Tsuji visited Bloomington July 2 – 5, 2010

Bloomington Sister City Organization welcomed Izumi City Mayor Tsuji July 2 – 5, 2010. Mayor Tsuji stayed at the Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington during their visit. There are several activities including a tour of Bloomington Civic Plaza, Minnesota Twins game at Target Field, Lake Minnetonka boat cruise and visit to Mall of America were part of the Mayoral visit.  Pictures of the visit can be viewed here.

Sep 28, 2010, 9:00 AM
Sep 28, 2010, 9:01 AM
tracy smith,
Sep 28, 2010, 9:50 AM