St. Pete’s sister city: Takamatsu, Japan

Learn more about the Japanese port city on the island of Shikoku, and some reasons to visit.

A panoramic photo of the City of Takamatsu, Japan. The city juts out from the left of the image, with ocean on the right, where islands stick out from the blue water. Moutnains are in the background, covered by a patch of grey cloud, but most of the sky is blue.

Takamatsu sits on the Seto Inland Sea.

Did you know about the relationship between the Tampa Bay area and a Japanese port city? We wanted to learn more about one of TBAY’s sister cities: Takamatsu, Japan.

Sister cities

First and foremost, what is a sister city?

A sister city represents an official relationship between two places. After an agreement is signed by both parties, sister cities begin to work more closely together. This encompasses trade, business, volunteering efforts, educational + cultural exchanges, and other mutually beneficial exploits.

The City of St. Petersburg and Takamatsu established their relationship in 1961. During that time, high school students from each country have visited the other for cultural + educational experiences.

St. Pete also enjoys a sister city relationship with Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and a friendship city relationship — a less formal arrangement — with Figueres, Spain.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Mayor Ken Welch said the Burg would maintain its sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia. However, it is not listed on St. Pete’s website.

Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, Japan. There are luscious green trees + plants around a lake, with an arched bridge crossing. There are buildings in the background.

Ritsurin Garden is one of the most popular attractions in Takamatsu.

Overview

Situated on the Japanese island of Shikoku — the country’s fourth largest island — Takamatsu is the capital city of Kagawa Prefecture (Think: a prefecture is similar to a state). Over a thousand years ago, the area was part of the ancient Sanuki Province, and was reimagined as a key strategic military location during times of warring states in the late 16th century, when the Takamatsu Castle was first built.

The castle is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, and was damaged by age in the 1800s, before suffering further destruction during WWII air raids the following century. The site was added to Japan’s list of Important Cultural Properties in 1950, recognized for its significance to the country’s history, art, and culture.

A photo of Takamatsu Castle. The white building has a three-tiered black roof, and sits atop a stone wall surrounded by a water. Trees surround the castle, and a wooden bridge crosses the water nearby, with people standing on it.

The castle was opened to visitors in 1955.

Takamatsu today

With a population of ~420,000, the city experiences short, wet summers, along with windy, brisk winters. Temperatures typically range between 37ºF and 89ºF throughout the year.

Alongside its tip-top tourism, Takamatsu’s main industries include production of machinery, tools, and furniture. While there isn’t much agricultural land in Kagawa Prefecture, citrus readily grows in the region — maybe this commonality is what sparked the relationship with TBAY.

On top of Takamatsu Castle, Ritsurin Garden is one of the top tourist attractions in the area. There are also religious sites to visit, including Yakuriji Temple, nearby islands like Ogijima Island, plus the city is lined with delectable eateries.

If you’re looking to show some Takamatsu pride, Kamatamare Sanuki is the local professional soccer team, which currently plays in the J3 League — the third tier of Japanese soccer. Check out this video of one of the team’s games + more local sights.

Now we need your help. Which TBAY sister city should we write about next? Let us know.

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