Niimi, Okayama Prefecture, Japan

The entwined circle design of the Sidney Sister Cities Association logo reflects key aspects of the four cities.  Pink, was chosen for Niimi to represent the cherry blossoms which bloom throughout Japan in the Sprin



2008. The Mayors sign the agreement as MLA Murray Coell and MP Gary Lunn look on with delegates from Niimi.

On July 1, 2008 the small city of Niimi, Okayama Prefecture, Japan,  became Sidney’s newest sister city when Mayors Matsui Ishigaki of Niimi and Don Amos of Sidney, signed a formal agreement establishing a sister city relationship between the two communities at a ceremony held in Sidney during Canada Day Celebrations. 






Niimi is located north of the city of Okayama on the Takahashi River and has a population of about 29,000.

The city’s long history dates from the Heian period (794 – 1185). A shōen manorial estate called Niimino-shō’ occupied much of the area of present-day Niimi.  Due to its location on the Takahashi River, Niimi became an important centre of inland trade.   In the Sengoku period (1467 – 1573) the Seki clan controlled the area, and established the Niimi Domain.  In the Sengoku period (1467 – 1573) the Seki Clan controlled the area.  The modern city of Niimi was founded on June 1, 1954 and on March 31, 2005, Niimi amalgamated with the towns of Ōsa, Shingō, Tessei and Tetta to become the city we see today

niimi bird's-eye view

Bird’s eye view of Niimi

A view of Niimi, with the Takahashi River and the landmark radio tower

 The region surrounding the city is noted for raising wagyu beef, grapes, peaches, tobacco and tea.  A nearby fish farm raises sturgeon for both food and caviar.  Limestone used in the production of cement is is quarried in the hills overlooking the town.

Niimi College is a co-educational college specializing in early childhood education, nursing and community wellness.

Since becoming sister cities, there have been a number of exchanges between Sidney and Niimi.   Three formal delegations from Sidney have visited; one in 2006 to meet with the Mayor and Council,  one in 2012 and the last in 2015.  Two formal delegations came from Niimi, one before the agreement was signed and one in 2008 to take part in the signing ceremony. two groups of students have visited from Niimi in 2014 and 2019.   We have also had a number of private visits from citizens of Niimi.

Farewell dinner 2014 Students and host families


The late Mayor Ishigaki of Niimi accepts the Town of Sidney gift during  the 2015 visit to Niimi in 2015.  The carving, by Tsartlip artist Chazz Elliott, incorporates the green Niimi triangle with Coast Salish iconography of salmon, whale and a heron

In 2015 we sent an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) to Niimi.  Here is his blog relating his adventures in Niimi….Click here
Niimi has a number of attractions for the visitor:

The  older part of town – the Ginza which is undergoing rehabilitation







The Saturday Market – a feast for the eyes and the nose!  Lots of stalls offering a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, cooked dishes and all sorts of household items.  And check out the nearby supermarket.

The Niimi Museum of Art – permanent and special exhibits and a great view over the town.

The Miki-do caves.   With spectacular lighting effects, the caves are magical




Water wheels and traditional paper making outside Niimi






In October the Shogun Festival or Daimiyou Gyouretsu.  Read ALT Terry’s blog on taking part in this festival here

    • Seiryuuji-Temple Kannon Dou, Niimi

      Getting to Niimi involves a long flight from Vancouver to Tokyo and then an internal flight plus train to Niimi taking at least 24 hours.  Slightly shorter is to fly to Osaka and take the train.   A stopover in Kyoto is a pleasant way to get over jet lag if taking this option.


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