Mark & Heather Jones
Special to the Gazette
PORT HARDY—There is a small white road sign as you enter Port Hardy that proclaims the name of our Twinned City, “Numata, Japan”… but most locals drive by it dozens of times each week and never give it a thought. Perhaps a few more people have noticed the nice little Japanese Garden down at Carrot Park…such a handy spot to perch for a rest during a busy Filomi Days weekend. But soon a new symbol of Port Hardy’s Twinning relationship with Numata will catch everyone’s attention: a new torii gate will soon be installed at Carrot Park.
A torii gate is a traditional Japanese archway that symbolically marks the transition to a special place. The gate will positioned at the entrance to our beloved waterfront Carrot Park – the place we gather for our annual Filomi Days festival, where we display our Jack o’Lanterns at the Pumpkin Walk, where we stroll along the seawall on a pleasant summer evening, where our visitors admire the totem poles and then pose for that must-have photo in front of the Port Hardy sign. In addition to welcoming people into the park, the viewer’s gaze through the archway will be drawn yet further out, to the Bay which gave Port Hardy it’s very name.
The idea of raising a torii gate was conceived by the Twinning Society as a way of celebrating the 20th Anniversary of friendship between our two towns. Since 1994 exchange trips have alternated on most years. Over the years dozens of adults and youth have had the opportunity to travel to Japan where our sister town has generously hosted and entertained the travelers. And when it’s our turn to host Numata, many Port Hardy families have been enriched by the memorable cultural exchange experience of having a Japanese student or adult stay in their home. This year will be extra-special: in honour of the 20th Anniversary there is a delegation travelling in each direction; in July locals went to Numata and this month their group will come to Port Hardy.
It will be during the Numata visitors’ trip here that a ceremony will be held to mark the 20th Anniversary of Twinning and to officially open the new Torii gate. Anyone who has ever been involved with Twinning, whether you have travelled to Japan or offered home-stays here, are especially welcomed to participate and share memories of your experience. Everyone is welcome to join in on Monday, Oct. 13, 3 p.m. at Carrot Park to share a slice of cake, mark the occasion and meet our honoured Numata visitors.