Town Twinning with Mont St. Michel
The 2 islands of sacred character
Miyajima Island (municipality in Hatsukaichi City) and Mont St Michel have been paired since 2009.
2008, the link between Miyajima and Mont St Michel
In 2008, the 150th year of diplomatic relations between France and Japan stated <Tourism Exchange Year of France and Japan>, many touristic campaigns were developed in these two country.
The Itsukushima Shrine’s Grand Gate – Grand Torii- and Mont St. Michel, registered in France as one of the World Cultural Heritage Sites of UNESCO, were chosen to appear on the promoting poster of this anniversary produced by the France National Tourism Office and the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Miyajima was selected by JNTO as one of the best touristic sites that they hoped to introduce to French people and on 2008 October, Hatsukaichi City participated with 8 touristic developers on Miyajima in the Touristic Exchange Seminar held at Paris by the Ministry of Land Management and Local Government, to exploit their touristic assets.
Visit to Mont St Michel
Having received the invitation by the Mayor of Mont St. Michel at this opportunity, we visited there to reinforce the 2 towns’ relationship.
We could pass no more than a short time there, but we made a satisfying exchange, and the Mont St. Michel side proposed the Town Twinning.
Mont St. Michel and Miyajima have something in common with each other; a part of registered World Cultural Heritage Site of UNESCO, floating on the sea, having more than a thousand year’s history with many sacred places as being representative touristic spot of each country.
We thought that this twinning with Mont St Michel is equally important for the Hatsukaichi City, and on 16th May 2009, we welcomed Mr. the Mayor Eric Vannier to hold the Towns’ Twinning Ceremony of Mont St Michel and Hatsukaichi.
Mont St Michel and Hatsukaichi plan to develop their touristic assets respectively, to organize promotions for the common subjects and to make cultural exchanges.
Hatsukaichi City sets up the corner to present Mont St Michel alongside Miyajima inside the ferry terminal of Miyajima port.
Signature of the Treaty and Ceremony
May 16th 2009, we welcomed Mr. Eric Vannier, the Mayor of Mont St Michel, from France, we held the Signature ceremony of the Treaty for the Twinning between Hatsukaichi and Mont St Michel at the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima.
On the ceremony’s day, Mr. Eric Vannier took the sea route classified the World Heritage of UNESCO, from Hiroshima City to Miyajima.
He was met at the Miyajima ferry terminal by the Mayor of Hatsukaichi, Katsuhiro Shinno, as well as by the French honorary consul, some members of the Diet, General and Municipal Council, and sympathisers from other legions.
The two mayors came on foot from Miyjima pier to Itsukushima Shrine, the ceremony place, through the shopping mall ‘Omotesando’. They could deepen their relationship as seeing actors in the mall, Japanese and foreign tourists and students in the school trip.
During the ceremony, also attended by many tourists, the 2 mayors signed an agreement particularly aiming to develop their touristic assets respectively and to organize promotions for the common subjects and to make cultural exchanges, and promised each other to reinforce their cooperation for the future.
Katsuhiro Shinno, Mayor of Hatsukaichi
‘’The agreement made among our 2 towns is a big pleasure for Hatsukaichi. Mont St Michel is the pride of French people, it is the Mecca of European tourism.
Miyajima is now a touristic spot representative in Japan. I’m sure that trying hard each other to deepen our relationship and develop attractions respectively will result in success about touristic development and about cultural exchange.
We try to construct a town could fill and ease the many people’s heart.‘’
Eric Vannier, Mayor of Mont St Michel
‘’I’m pleased that these two places with more than 1,000 years’ history could get closer in spite of the cultural difference. We bear witness with passion to the Great History of Humanity transcending the notions of nations, peoples and cultures.
Our two towns are famous all over the world as symbols of the humanity’s excellence. I’m sure that this friendly exchanges, hoped to last for long time, will reach us to tie up about many issues as the culture, spirit, cultural heritage, environment, culinary.
On the day of signature ceremony, Hatsukaichi City offered to Mont St Michel a carved plate of Miyajima and received in exchange an etching of Mont St Michel to celebrate the twinning.
The World Heritage: Mont St Michel
Mont St Michel is an Abbey built on the small island standing in the Normandy bay, located in the west of France.
According to the legend, the Archangel St. Michael appeared in 708 in Bishop Aubert’s dream, to order to build an oratory upon rock. At first, Aubert didn’t believe what he heard and didn’t anything. But when the Archangel appeared for 3 times, he touched Aubert’s forehead and ordered firmly to build the oratory.
Relying on the words, Aubert built a small oratory on rock.
It is when Mont St Michel, until then related to the continent, was covered in water during a night and became an isolated island.
[The similarity with the Itsukushima Shrine’s history is quite disturbing:
In 1146, at the beginning of Kyuan Period, Taira-no-Kiyomori was assigned to the head of Aki-no-Kuni or Aki Province ( ancient name of the west part of Hiroshima Prefecture).
In a dream, he saw an old priest saying to him that he would have great success in life if he constructed the Itsukushima Shrine. He built the shrine in ‘Shinden’ style and introduced the Bugaku dance from Osaka Shitennoji Temple.]
Since that period, Mont St Michel is considered as a place sacred and revered by people.
At first, it was no more than a little oratory, expanded through the enlargements succeeded over time.
However, at the time when France and England were into the Hundred Years War, the Abbey was closed and used as a fortress. The amplitude of tides is large and streams strong, the enemy could neither reach nor enter. Mont, therefore, has not been surrendered and survived the war.
Then, Mont returned to duty of the Abbey, but transformed in prison after the French Revolution, feared by the name of < Bastille in the sea >.
In 1966, the member of religious order has returned, and Mont became again the abbey with office continued today.
The footbridge was completed in 2015 and Mont recovered the fullness of scenary in the sea. Almost three thousand visitors come there every year.