About

Our Story

The Sister Cities program was originally conceived as part of President Eisenhower's People to People program. The affiliation between Bloomington and Asahikawa, Japan came about through the personal efforts of Alvin Keller. In 1960 as Director of Finance for the City of Bloomington, he sent copies of a brochure (“Bloomington Progress Report 1960") to cities around the world, and in an accompanying letter requested similar materials in return.

A letter received in December 1960 by Mayor Robert McGraw from Mayor Yosokici Maeno of Asahikawa said, in part, “It is our honor to have received a letter and brochure which introduces your city and its municipal operation. We have also been looking forward to learn various status of cities. . .in foreign countries. We have even more studies to select a suitable city in the United States who wishes to become a sister city with us."

That letter resulted in regular communication between leaders of the two cities, and on March 26, 1962, the Sister Cities affiliation between Bloomington and Asahikawa was formally proclaimed by Mayor McGraw and the city council.

Mayor Maeno and the Asahikawa council did the same on October 11, 1962. In March 1964, Bloomington resident Ned Cicciu was appointed chairperson and five other citizens, including Alvin Keller were asked to serve on the newly-created Sister Cities Committee.

In 1962, Judy Stern (now former Mayor Judy Markowitz) visited Asahikawa becoming the first person from Bloomington to officially visit Asahikawa. While in Asahikawa she served as the "Good Will Emissary".

On April 7, 1980, the Normal Town Council accepted an invitation to officially join Bloomington as a sister city to Asahikawa, formalizing a relationship that had, in fact, existed for years. The people of Asahikawa had already come to know Bloomington-Normal as one community.

The City of Asahikawa

Asahikawa is located on the northern island of Hokkaido and is the second largest city on Hokkaido with a population of 355,851.  Hokkaido receives considerable snow in the winter. It is the chief winter resort and sports area of Japan. Asahikawa is ringed by the Daisetsu Mountains, which provide for excellent skiing and climbing opportunities.  Three major rivers snake through Asahikawa. "The City of Rivers" has more than 700 bridges.  Asahikawa is home to the Asahiyama Zoo, which competes with the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo for most successful zoo in Japan.  Asahikawa is also known as one of Japan’s gourmet towns containing many restaurants.

Committee

Darren Sampson

Darren Sampson, Chairman
Employer: State Farm Insurance Co.
Member since 2012
High School Exchange Student 1984-85

Ken Ota

Ken Ota, Secretary
Employer: Alpha Graphics
Member since 2012
Japanese Saturday School Principal

Kyle Silver

Kyle Silver
Member since 2016

Jeffrey Kroesch

Jeffrey Kroesch
Employer: Bloomington District 87 Schools
Member since pending appointment

Dawn McBride

Dawn McBride
Member since June, 2018

Chiko Tsukamoto

Chiko Tsukamoto
Member since 2020

Ryan Apple

Ryan Apple
Member since 2019

Patrick Clapper

Patrick Clapper
Member since 2019

Sally Modine

Sally Modine
Member since 2019

Brenda Guest

Brenda Guest
Member since 2019

Laura Tepen

Laura Tepen
Member since 2019

Meeting Minutes