The Relationship between Yamaguchi and Navarre
Yamaguchi Prefecture and the province of Navarre region of Spain formed an official sister region relationship in November 2003. However, one could say that the relationship between Yamaguchi Prefecture and the Navarre region began long before 2003.
In the mid 16th-century, a missionary by the name of Francisco Xavier came to Yamaguchi Prefecture. Xavier, from Navarre, was the first Jesuit missionary to come to Japan. Despite a language barrier, he practiced religious teachings with residents of Yamaguchi and parts of Kyushu. Xavier’s legacy lives on today in Yamaguchi through the Yamaguchi Xavier Memorial Church in Yamaguchi City and serves as a reminder of the ties between Yamaguchi and Navarre.
The ties between Yamaguchi Prefecture and Navarre are evident in Spain as well. The capital of Yamaguchi Prefecture, Yamaguchi City, has a sister city relationship with the capital of Navarre, Pamplona, that began in 1980. In Pamplona, which is famous for the running of the bulls during the festival of San Fermin, you can visit Parque Yamaguchi, shown in the picture on the left. Parque Yamaguchi, or Yamaguchi Park, is a commemoration of 15 years of friendship between Yamaguchi and Pamplona. The park spans 80,000 square meters, making it the perfect place to get in touch with nature in the middle of the city. Japanese landscape gardeners helped design the park, which includes a 6,000 square meter Japanese garden. Parque Yamaguchi is one of the few Japanese-style gardens in Europe and the only one of its kind in Spain.