VIDEO: Lake Cowichan celebrates 30 years of friendship with Ohtaki

Fun, festivity, and friendship were in the air Oct. 12 at Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s multi-purpose room as the Ohtaki visit wound up with a big, boisterous banquet.

The group from Lake Cowichan’s sister community in Japan arrived in town in the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 10 for a welcome barbecue before going home with their host families.

On Oct. 11, after some time with their families, they visited Lake Cowichan First Nation, and then spent the afternoon at Lake Cowichan School for events organized especially for them.

Sightseeing at the Kaatza Station Museum, Saywell Park, the Forest Workers Memorial Park, Ohtaki Park, and the Duck Pond and local shopping in Lake Cowichan then led to a supper of pizza and sushi and then some fun carving pumpkins at the municipal hall.

Friday, Oct. 12 saw the Japanese visitors and their hosts spending some time in Youbou, bowling, playing pickleball, and having lunch before enjoying some free time with their host families.

Then it was time for the community banquet, a joyful occasion filled with laughter and entertainment as old friends reconnected and new friends forged ties that may last a lifetime.

After a free day on Saturday, the group was off. Until next time.

Piper Joel Bailey entertains the crowd at the Ohatki banquet in Lake Cowichan on Friday, Oct. 12. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
It’s been 30 years since the first Lake Cowichan-Ohtaki exchange visits. Here are some souvenirs of those years.
A class from the junior high school in Ohtaki prepares to speak to the crowd at the banquet. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The students of the Ohtaki delegation pose with Lake Cowichan dignitaries following a gift exchange at the end of the banquet. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The Lake Cowichan Tenors perform at the Ohtaki banquet at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena Oct. 12. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest thanks the Ohtaki delegation for their visit. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The Ohtaki kids enjoy checking out the arena before heading in to the wind-up banquet. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
“Country road, take me home”, sing the students from Ohtaki. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Part of the entertainment at the banquet were some traditional Scottish tunes by piper Joel Bailey. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The multi-purpose room at Cowichan Lake Sports Arena is decorated in an autumn scene for the Ohtaki banquet. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Several members of the audience join the Lake Cowichan Tenors in singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Good-sport Yoshinori Kageyame, superintendent for the Date City school district, centre, joins Elvin Hedden, left, and Dave Darling, right, of the Lake Cowichan Tenors in a rousing conclusion to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Yoshinori Kageyame and Ross Forrest exchange gifts on behalf of their two communities. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Yoshinori Kageyame urges Lake Cowichan to increase its efforts to send people to Japan to visit because in these days cultural exchange is more important than ever. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The students thank the Town of Lake Cowichan and their host families for a great visit. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

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