Post-Typhoon Hagibis Update From Our Friends In Japan

This photo shows blue sheets on damaged houses from the previous Typhoon Faxai in Tateyama, Chiba prefecture on October 11, 2019.

Kunio Okayasu, good friend and former colleague of BSCA Past President John Gargett reports from Tokyo on Saturday, October 12:

Here comes sunshine and blue sky and breeze.
No gusty wind last night in Tokyo.
We are all safe and well.
Tateyama again lost power in the midst of gust on coastal area.
There were some tornados in neighborhood city north of Tateyama.

More than a couple of dozen rivers swelled and water over river bank, and dike swept away and inundated cities and farmland.
Defunct nuclear power plants are still there with no further damage.
Recovery ahead will take time but not for long.

There will be world cup rugby game tonight, Japan VS. Scotland.

Thank you for your concern.

Japan Beat Scotland 28-21 in that match.


Another BSCA friend and Member, Murray Hill, was able to capture this image of the Tama River in Tokyo after the Typhoon.

Tama River Banks in Tokyo after Typhoon Hagibis


As you will see in the next image, Tama River is quite full.

Ordinary view of Tama River Photo credits:


And just for fun, during Murray’s last visit to Tateyama, he got the chance to dress up in some fun traditional Japanese gear!

Our Friend Murray dressed up on a previous visit to Japan


If you would like to continue to support the ongoing recovery of Tateyama from both of the devastating Typhoons your donation can be made by clicking on the link below.  Be sure to mention on the message line at the bottom of the page “The typhoon disaster relief donation”.  Your continued support is greatly appreciated during this challenging time for our sister city.

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Super Typhoon Hagibis To Make Landfall In Chiba

The path of Hagibis is clearly heading up Tokyo Bay, and directly over Chiba Prefecture as of 0830 JST today, October 9, 2019. It looks like Saturday through Sunday will be a slow passing over Chiba until it heads into the North Pacific.

Our concern is for everyone in its path, with winds ashore in the 100 knots range (115 miles per hour) in Tateyama but perhaps dropping to 80 knots (92 miles per hour) in the Tokyo area.

Here in Bellingham, we are all hoping the typhoon will take a different course out to sea, or if not, we hope the impact on Tateyama will be manageable.

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Runners Arriving From Tateyama and How You Can Join Us In Support

On September 9th 2019, our sister city of Tateyama in Japan was hit by a deadly and devastating Typhoon, Faxai, which was the 15th Typhoon of this season. Read more about its impact here.

We are happy, however, to report the two marathon runners from Tateyama will still be coming to Bellingham for the race this last weekend in September.  The public is in invited to join our Mayor Linville meet them and show our support at Bellingham City Hall (210 Lottie St.) on Friday, September 27 at 12:30 pm.

Please join us in showing support for Tateyama and wishing them a quick recovery. We have created a flag for the community to sign with well-wishes for our sister city.

Bellingham Sister City Board members and flag. The flag reads “Ganbare Tateyama” Ganbare is a Japanese word that shows support and encouragement like “we are rooting for you” and “hang in there”.


We will be bringing the flag around to some community events over the next two weeks for Bellingham community members to sign and show their support for our Sister City.

Here is the schedule of locations the flag will be available at:

  • Thursday 09/19: BBay Running
  • Monday 9/23 until Tuesday 9/24 9 am: City hall (210 Lottie street).
  • Tuesday 9/24 10 am – 5 pm & Wednesday 9/25 11 am – 3 pm: Whatcom Community College Syre Student Center
  • Wednesday 9/25 5:00 pm through Tuesday 9/26 4 pm: Bellingham Library
  • Thursday 09/26 5 pm – 8 pm: BBay Running
  • Friday 09/27 8 am – 11 am: Bellingham High School (open to students and staff only)
  • Friday 09/27 12 pm – 5 pm: City Hall (210 Lottie street)
  • Saturday 09/28 12 pm – 6 pm: Bellingham Bay Marathon Race Expo at Bellingham Cruise Terminal

The flag will then return to Tateyama with our two visiting runners on Monday 09/30 at a private farewell party.

We hope you will join us in this show of support.



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Typhoon Faxai Devastates Bellingham’s Sister City Tateyama, Japan

Please consider donating to help support those affected in Tateyama.  Your donation can be made by clicking on the link below.  Be sure to mention on the message line at the bottom of the page “The typhoon disaster relief donation”.  Your support is greatly appreciated during this challenging time for our sister city.

Northern Japan was hit by a powerful typhoon (this season’s 15th named storm – AKA “Typhoon Faxai”) on September 9th, 2019.  Among the most devastated in the regions is Bellingham’s own sister city, Tateyama, in Chiba Prefecture.  More than 100,000 households remain without electricity and fresh water nearly a week after the storm.  

Agricultural damage was extensive, which is the main source of income for many Tateyama residents, much like our own Whatcom County.  Many lost their strawberry farms and other crops.  Faxai caused severe damage to roofs, windows, and walls of residential homes. Many retail shops’ windows were smashed open by debris. 

The greenhouse and strawberry crops it contained were a total loss for this Tatayama family that has hosted many visitors from Bellingham over the years.

More rainstorms are expected to hit the region in the coming weeks, which will hamper recovery efforts.  The city is distributing tarps to those in need as a temporary solution, in order to avoid citizens getting “drenched” in their own home. 

Communications between friends are families and with the public media have been a challenge due to the lack of electricity and many landlines have been cut off.  It is expected to take another two weeks or more to restore power to all the affected areas.  

Mayor Kenichi Kanamaru appeared on Japanese national television (wearing a Bellingham tee-shirt) acknowledging widespread damage and calling for support.

Tateyama citizen and frequent Bellingham visitor, Hiroyuki Yamaguchi, was interviewed 9-12-19 on his way to SeaTac Airport to return to Tateyama to help. He joins Tateyama Mayor Kanamaru in asking everyone to keep Tateyama in their thoughts and wish them the best in this long recovery.

Hiroyuki was visiting daughter Akane in Renton.  Akane reports:

” The wind was so strong it severely damaged numbers of homes. The whole city is experiencing power outages and access to landline and cell signal.  Senior citizens are not social media savvy, so they have been cut off from communication.  City Hall lost power, but generators kicked in immediately.  My sister Minami, who weathered the storm in Tateyama is in shock from being a victim of this disaster. She has never experienced such devastation before.  My dad’s sailboat, which belongs to Tateyama Ocean Yacht Club, sank. Seven out of a fleet of thirteen sank. Only 2 survived and the rest are badly damaged.
 When reached out by others after a tragedy, it’s common for Japanese folks to reply, “we are fine and our home is fine” out of sense of “Enryo”, a widespread Japanese concept of restraining speech or actions to avoid unpleasant confrontation. People may minimize or even be silent regarding the impact of this disaster initially, but I think it’s severe enough that it require a long period of time for the city and its people to recover.”

Ryosuke Okawa, who participated in Ski to Sea race in 2011, drove to Tateyama neighboring town Minamiboso (Ferndale’s Sister City) two days after the disaster and created this video showing the destruction and devastation caused by Typhoon Faxai. 

The Bellingham Sister Cities Association is happy, however, to report the two marathon runners from Tateyama will still be coming to Bellingham for the race this last weekend in September.  The public is in invited to join our Mayor Linville meet them and show our support at Bellingham City Hall (210 Lottie St.) on Friday, September 27 at 12:30 pm.

If you have additional information to share, email it to and we can upload it.

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Call For Volunteers!

Dear Bellingham Citizens and Sister Cities Enthusiasts,

Thank you for your interest in international understanding and friendship.  We are excited to sound this call for volunteers like you to join one of our seven city support groups, help us complete special projects at hand, or perhaps serve on the Bellingham Sister Cities Association (BSCA) board.

Bellingham is proud of our network of seven sister cities around the globe and our 60+ years of promoting world peace.  We do this by maintaining a strong tie with each of our sister cities and organizing exchanges.  You can help with this.

We invite you to get familiar with the opportunities and criteria via the links described below.  Depending on what you want to do, simply join and enjoy by becoming a member, go further and help with one-time tasks, or become active in one of our city groups.  Perhaps you’d like to apply for a board position. Any way you choose, you become an example of how Bellingham shows the world we represent the “best of humanity”.

To take Bellingham’s unique style of citizen diplomacy to another level, we recently launched an effort to inter-connect all seven of our sister cities beyond our typical 2-way relationships.  Your help and leadership through your enthusiasm and expertise will not only deepen our own, but can now open up a whole new world of friendships for others.

The BSCA is its own non-profit, is fully self-funded, and serves as an advisory board to the Mayor.  It operates under democratic protocol and is subject to public disclosure and accounting.  All who serve are expected to embrace the spirit of volunteerism, conduct themselves with integrity, and eschew personal gain.

Our mission is lofty yet compelling.  And it may just be attainable through love, persistence, and an appetite for fun and adventure.

We look forward to your participation!

Ross Grier, 2019 President
Bellingham Sister Cities Association,

Links are provided to:

Arjaa Rinpoche Khadag Presentations

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All The Wild Horses – A Unforgettable Mongolian Adventure

October 13th at 8:45 PM, and October 15th at 5:15 PM, the Bellingham Sister Cities Association is proud to present All The Wild Horses at the Pickford Film Center.

Follow international riders from around the world as they compete in the Mongol Derby in Mongolia, the longest and toughest horse race on the planet. In this race across 700 miles of Mongolian steppe the riders are on their own, navigating from horse station to horse station where they change horses every 30 miles. They have to deal with dehydration, hypothermia, exhaustion, extreme weather, swollen rivers, attacking dogs and roaming wolves. The riders stay the nights out in the wild or with nomad families. To choose a wrong horse at a horse station could get them bucked off, losing their mount in the process, or suffer more serious injuries. Filmmaker Ivo Marloh rides the 1000-kilometre race twice to embed himself in the individual stories and document exactly what compels riders from all around the world to risk broken bones, life-threatening injuries, or their life savings for an experience that will change their lives forever.

Tsetserleg City (Mongolia) Chair Bolor Smith and 2018 Bellingham Sister Cities Association President Ross Grier will be providing a brief introduction before the film. There will be some prizes to give away too, including a $25 membership to BSCA!

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Mayors From 7 Countries Convene In Bellingham For “Global Dialogue for Community Solutions”

In 1958 the City of Bellingham and the City of Tateyama, Japan established one of the first Sister City relationships after President Eisenhower started what is now known as the Sister Cities International. This year, 2018, marks the 60thanniversary of the relationship between Bellingham and Tateyama.

This week, the Mayors of all 7 sister cities of Bellingham are participating in a special Sister Cities Mayoral Summit: “Global Dialogue for Community Solutions”. The purpose of the summit is to gather our Sister City Mayors around a single table to share success stories, discuss challenges, and through this dialogue, discover beneficial ideas and solutions.  This summit will reach students, business owners and leaders, cultural organizations, elected officials, and citizens of each of our communities as well as draw worldwide attention to the importance of strong and beneficial Sister City relationships.

“This event is a truly unique event not only for Bellingham, but also for our Country as the Mayors of our 7 sister cities, along with Mayor Linville of Bellingham, build on the vision established by President Eisenhower following World War II that world peace can be achieved through one on one relationships” said Bellingham Sister Cities President Ross Grier.  “We are honored to be able to sponsor and host the mayors as a result of the support of Western Washington University, Saturna Capital, and Holiday Inn and Suites”

On Tuesday, September 4 the   Mayoral Summit begins at Western Washington University where the Mayors will work to expand friendships, foster peace and understanding, and look through dialogue at ways to collaborate on common issues.  The Mayors will then be received by the Lummi Nation on Tuesday evening in a formal reception.

Wednesday, September 5, Saturna Capital is sponsoring a School and Business Day with keynote speaches by the Presidents of our higher education colleges, and visits to key local industries.

Thursday, September 6thwill introduce the Mayors to Whatcom County Mayors with a tour and reception at Peace Arch Park in Blaine, followed by the dedication of a Summit Monument at the Bellingham Library and a final Gala Farewell event at the Holiday Inn and Suites at Bellingham International Airport.


Participant Representing Year Started
Honorable Mr. Kenichi Kanamaru Tateyama, Japan 1958
Honorable Mr. Ryan Palmer Port Stephens, Australia 1982
Honorable Mr. Andrey Gorelov Nakhodka, Russia 1989
Honorable Mr. Claudio Radonich Jiménez Punta Arenas, Chile 1996
Honorable Mr. Han Beum Deuk Cheongju, South Korea 2005
Honorable Mr. Tomas Häyry Vaasa, Finland 2009
Honorable Mr. Jamtsiin Gurvantamir Tsetserleg, Mongolia 2011
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Bellingham runners arrive in Port Stephens, Australia and meet up with runners from Tateyama, Japan

Nigel Dique, Chairman of the Port Stephens Sister Cities Committee reports the runners from Bellingham and Tateyama are in Port Stephens safely ensconced with their home hosts, all very excited and in good health, but a wee bit tired.

Nigel met our runners at the airport in Sydney and after accompanying them to Newcastle by train from Sydney he says “We gave them a quick ‘Cook’s tour’ of Newcastle.” and continues, “Today there will be a mayoral reception and other activities including a visit to a koala park”.

BSCA Marathon Exchange Program Director, Holly Graham is with them and reports “Just wanted you to know we are here in Port Stephens and having a great time. Everyone is so nice and accommodating and it is beautiful here.  We are on our way now to meet with the mayor, then off to pet some koalas.”

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Bellinghamsters Running in Kangaroo Country

The Bellingham Sister Cities Association has expanded our Marathon Exchange Program to the shores of Port Stephens, Australia.  5 runners are arriving there in advance of the July 22 running of the Hunter Valley Marathon.

Down Under it’s winter but that won’t stop a runner in the Port Stephens, Australia area)








Program Director Holly Graham, an alum of the Wakashio Marathon in Tateyama, Japan, is excited the program is expanding and more Bellingham area runners are becoming Citizen Diplomats to make friends around the world.  Originally a Tateyama-Bellingham exchange, Port Stephens is now in the mix and runners are cris-crossing our sister cities at a dizzying rate.  Runners from Port Stephens (4) and Tateyama (2) will be arriving in Bellingham for the Bellingham Bay Marathon on the last Sunday of September before Bellinghamsters head to Tateyama again in January 2019.  The Aussies will be in Tateyama as well.

At the recent Australia Sendoff, Holly Graham (Tateyama, Japan flag) and three of the runners sporting other flags are anchored by BSCA board members, all in uniform. Get your uniform by joining the BSCA! photo: tapio holma)


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Ozzie Land Runners // Send OFF

THIS JUST IN! Five members of the Bellingham Sister Cities Association (BSCA) will be traveling to Port Stephans, Australia to participate in the Winery Running Festival on July 22nd, 2018.

Their send off for the Australia trip will be on Thursday, July 12th at 5:45 PM, at BBay Running – 1431 North State Street in Bellingham.

If you are interested in running but don’t want to fly all the way to Australia, The Bellingham Bay Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, September 30, 2018. This will also be the inaugural invitation exchange of both Tateyama, Japan and Port Stephens, Australia.

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