2023 has been a very busy year for the Frankston Susono Friendship Association (FSFA). FSFA committee members have been instrumental in ensuring the bond between Frankston and its sister city, Susono in Japan, continues to grow whilst promoting Japanese culture within our local community.
The year commenced with members of FSFA attending a party at the Japanese Consulate in Melbourne to celebrate the Japanese Emperor’s birthday. FSFA members were treated to Japanese food, drinks and entertainment and had the opportunity to chat informally with the Japanese Consul-General Shimada and his wife at the party.
In May, a number of the FSFA Committee showcased FSFA at The Box Hill Japanese Festival. Many people stopped at the FSFA stand and were very impressed with our sister-city relationship with Susono and all that the committee have achieved over COVID to ensure the communications remained strong between the two cities.
Quarterly ZOOM meetings, which were implemented because of COVID Lockdown, have continued throughout the year with the Susono Overseas Friendship Association (SOFA). These meetings have allowed FSFA members to remain connected with our friends in Susono and has definitely added to strengthening the sister-city relationship between the two cities.
In early August we welcomed the first delegation from Susono post-COVID! The delegation of two teachers and ten students from Susono, attended Derinya Primary School for a week. Members of the delegation had homestays with families from Derinya Primary School, where they were able to experience the Australian lifestyle. During their visit to Frankston, our friends from Susono visited the Japanese Tribute Garden in Susono Way, Frankston and were able to view the Map of Susono which was a 40th anniversary gift from SOFA.
In October, it was SOFA’s turn to host a delegation from Frankston for 4 days, which was led by FSFA. A total of 36 delegates from Frankston were welcomed to Susono, and had the opportunity of a homestay where they learnt about Japanese lifestyle and culture. Included in the delegation were 16 students and 4 teachers from Derinya Primary School. These students enjoyed reconnecting with the children who had visited Frankston in August from Susono.
The delegation enjoyed spending time with our Susono friends, sightseeing and learning about Japanese culture. Delegates assisted SOFA with the Australian Fair which was attended by citizens of Susono. There were many Australian artefacts on display, photos and memorabilia of the past 42 years of the sister city relationship between Susono and Frankston. Past exchange students from both cities were excited to reconnect with each other at the Australian Fair and reminisce about their time together as exchange students. The Derinya students performed dance routines and assisted Japanese children to do handicrafts, while some members of the delegation gave a Taiko drumming performance which was very special.
FSFA have been sponsoring Taiko lessons for the public, which are held fortnightly at Frankston High School, overlooking the Japanese garden which FSFA Committee members continue to maintain. This has allowed members of the public to learn about another aspect of Japanese culture and have fun with others. Since the classes began earlier in the year, numbers of attendees continue to grow.
Plans are currently in place for fundraising activities to cover costs to purchase Taiko drums for the group. The initiative to create the Frankston Taiko Drumming Group has been successful to date.
In September, FSFA held another very successful Japanese Speech Contest. Fifty-three students participated in the contest from Prep through to Year 12. All students spoke exceptionally well and are to be commended for their efforts. FSFA plans to continue this annual event as it provides a platform for school children to showcase their Japanese language skills. Many thanks to the wonderful judges who donated their time which enables this activity to continue to be a success.
As FSFA and SOFA look forward to celebrating 42 years as sister cities, our FSFA Committee members can be proud of all they have achieved over the past year. Together this small, but very enthusiastic group, have worked together to ensure others have the opportunity to learn about Susono and Japanese culture and way of life. As we embark on the year ahead, FSFA looks forward to welcoming new members into the association who are also passionate about Japan. Together we will continue to promote all things Japanese, and ensure the bond with our sister city continues to grow.
I am proud of the FSFA Committee and all that they have achieved over the past year. Last November FSFA were presented with a Certification of Appreciation by the Frankston City Council at their monthly meeting and also earned a nomination for the Community Group of the Year at January’s Australia Day Awards Ceremony. In October, FSFA and SOFA were given a special award from the Sister Cities Australia (SCA) in recognition of our sister city relationship and how we maintained our strong connections throughout the COVID lockdowns.
Members of FSFA are now planning for 2024. We hope to welcome a Susono delegation and hold a Japanese Festival whilst they are in Frankston. Other activities on the calendar include the Japanese Speech Contest and Hanami Party which is held to celebrate cherry blossom season.
Thank you to all of the wonderful people who have made this year’s achievements possible. Together we have achieved so much. I look forward to the year ahead, working together with the wonderful team on the FSFA Committee, to promote Susono and Japanese culture in our community.