An Introduction to Navarre, Spain
The third and youngest of Yamaguchi’s sister relations, official ties with Navarre were formed on November 11, 2003, during Governor Nii’s week-long visit to Spain. The foundations for collaboration and exchange had already been laid by the sister city ties between Yamaguchi City and Navarre’s capital city, Pamplona, which date back to 1980.
Navarre and Yamaguchi are connected by a shared history—Saint Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary from Navarre, landed in Japan in 1549 and, after receiving permission from the ruling Ouchi family to practice Christianity, spent the years 1550 and 1551 in Yamaguchi. Though brief, Xavier’s time in Japan is a significant moment in the history of Japan’s contact and relations with the outside world. Both Yamaguchi and Navarre memorialize the history of Xavier, with Xavier castle in Navarre and the St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church in Yamaguchi, and hold commemorative events in his honor—for example, students from the Yamaguchi cooking academy designed and made memorial confectionaries that blended Japanese and European baking techniques as a representation of cross-cultural ties to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Xavier during this past November’s National Culture Festival.
There have been a number of international events held in both locations in honor of the sister relations, including photography exhibitions, the Kirara Festival of 2001 which took place in Yamaguchi and which featured Spanish performers and dancers, and the Navarre Festival of 2002 which took place in Pamplona and which featured Japanese performers and dancers. “Yamaguchi Garden,” a unique sight of Japanese outdoor landscaping in Europe, is the Japanese style garden built in Pamplona in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of sister-city ties between Pamplona and Yamaguchi City.
Surface area: 10,400 sq km
Government headquarters: Pamplona
Languages: Spanish, Basque.
Location: Central Northern Spain, bordered in the west by Basque county, in the south by La Rioja, in the east by Aragon, and in the north by France and the Pyrenees Mountains.
Technology and Industry: Leads Europe in its use of renewable energy technology, such as wind farms and water turbines.
Interesting facts: Pamplona is known for the San Fermin festival (the running of the bulls festival) made famous in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
Along with academic ties and exchange between Yamaguchi University and the University of Navarre, plans for Yamaguchi and Navarre’s sister relations for the years to come focus on the exchange of culture, education, and economics.
feature1 feature2 YIEA language Q&A