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P.O. Box 122842
San Diego CA 92112-2842

+1 760 444 4164

Building bridges for peace

Who We are

Who We Are

In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry sailed his black ship into Uraga harbor (near Yokohama) and a treaty of peace and amity was signed one year later. This relationship has grown into one of the closest political, cultural, and economic relationship of our time. We continue to celebrate our ties to genuine friendship and shared values and promote the Sister City goals of world peace through better understanding.

The San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society was established in 1957 as one of the first sister cities on the west coast. The Society has sponsored numerous exchanges in the field of arts, business, culture, and education between the City of San Diego and the City of Yokohama, Japan.

Our legacy is helping the children who are our next generation to work with each other to create peace.

Dr. Thelma Press photo

Dr. Thelma Press

Current Past President
Celebrating over 60 years of Friendship

SDYSCS Historical Timeline

1951 Japanese-American Pacific Coast Mayors' Conference

In 1951 San Diego Mayor, John Butler, attended the Japanese-American Pacific Coast Mayors' Conference in Tokyo. Almost immediately the city of Yokohama began making friendly overtures towards San Diego.

Second Japan-American Conference

After attending the Second Japan-American Conference in Seattle, Washington, Mayor Butler attended invited the Japanese delegates to extend their US visit with a trip to San Diego.

Father of San Diego Sister Cities: Saburo Muraoka

San Diegan and Yokohama born, Saburo Muraoka, who volunteered to translate for the visiting Yokohama delegation in 1953 goes to Yokohama to further promote ties between the two cities.

Third Japan-American Pacific Coast Mayors' Conference

Mayor Charles Dail and Port Director John Bate travel to Yokohama to attend the Conference and meet with Yokohama Mayor Hiranuma, Ryozo who announces that a snow viewing latern would be sent to San Diego.


President Eisenhower brings Americans representing all walks of life to Washington D.C. to attend a White House Conference on Citizen Diplomacy. This conference creates the People-To-People program.

San Diego Zoo
Snow Viewing Lantern

The City of Yokohama's snow lantern arrives in San Diego by way of the United States Navy and is dedicated by Mayor Dail and placed in the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park.

San Diego-Yokohama
Sister City partnership

San Diego (United States of America) Partnership officially established on October 29, 1957. Ordinance creating the San Diego Yokohama Friendship Commission passes on March 11, 1958.

San Diego Yokohama Friendship Commission

On March 11, 1958 under Mayor Dail the City of San Diego approved an ordinance creating the San Diego Yokohama Friendship Commission governed by a board appointed by the City Council.

Yokohama-San Diego Friendship Committee

As part of the Port 's Centennial Celebration Yokohama conducted formal Affiliation Ceremonies commemorating the sister-city status and created the Yokohama-San Diego Friendship Committee.

Port of Yokohama's
Centennial Celebration

A delegation of leading San Diego Citizens headed by Deputy Mayor Rossniarp in the absence of Mayor Dail who was unable to attend were honored guests at the Port of Yokohama's Centennial Celebration.

Yokohama Friendship Bell

A symbol of eternal friendship, the bell was presented as part of the Centennial Celebration of formal relations between Japan and the United States. This gift served to mark the establishment of a sister city relationship between San Diego and Yokohama.

Ceremonial tea house gifted to San Diego

At the conclusion of the San Diego delegation's visit to Yokohama in 1958 Yokohama announced they would be sending a Ceremonial tea house. This 10ft by 16ft Tea House would later become the House of Japan.

House of Japan
Dedication Ceremony

The tea house was dedicated on July 31st, 1960, and became the 20th structure in the House of Pacific relations placed on a site between the house of England and Sweden.

Donal Hord's Guardian of the Waters

The statue, a replica of the original in San Diego, is gifted to Yokohama in 1960. Created by artist Donal Hord the statue is at the center of a fountain and is surrounded by gardens in Yamashita Park.

Yokohama Friendship Bell’s house dedication Ceremony

Dedicated on Dec. 10, 1960 the bell was tolled by Bishop Yamada of the Zen Shu Buddhist Temple. He was joined by then-Mayor Charles Dail and other civic leaders and tolled the traditional 18 strokes.

Formation of the San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society

The San Diego-Yokohama Friendship Commission is replaced by the San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society, a non-profit Cultural and Educational organization.

Mayor Charles Dail
passes away

Friend to the Sister City Society and former San Diego Mayor, Charles Dail passes away. Dail had served three terms on the San Diego City Council from 1943 to 1955 and two terms as Mayor from 1955 and 1963.

Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate

A Meiji-style gate is donated to the city by the San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society under the leadership of Will Hippen. The gate, dedicated to the former mayor, would become the anchor for the future creation of the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Sister Cities International Conference

The San Diego Yokohama Sister City Society wins the bid to host the 1980 Sister Cities International Conference during the period of August 13 through August 17, 1980.

25th Anniversary
California Mission bells

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the affiliation with Yokohama, a group of SDYSCS members traveled to Yokohama to present the California El Camino Mission Bells to Mayor Michikazu Saigo.

25th Anniversary
San Diego Song

The Yokohama-San Diego Friendship Committee presents to the City of San Diego a magnificent black marble sculpture in the form of an open book on which is inscribed the words of "The San Diego Song."

San Diego Surf Soccer Club goes to Yokohama

Grand opening of the Japanese Friendship Garden

35th Anniversary Celebration

San Diego-Yokohama Partnership

San Diego-Yokohama Partnership


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