The Maine-Aomori link began with a shipwreck, October 31, 1889.
The bark Cheseborough, out of Bath, Maine, was caught in a fierce storm off the
coast of the Tsugaru Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture at the northern tip of the
Japanese main island of Honshu. Powerful westerly winds drove the ship onto
the shoals near the village of Shariki. The ship was destroyed, but some of the
crew and passengers were saved, brought to shore and cared for by villagers,
who then sought help from the Aomori government.
The memory of the rescue and the enormous efforts of those who sheltered
the survivors and those who made the journey for more assistance remained
vivid in the isolated community through the Russo-Japanese War, World War I
and World War II. As the 100th anniversary of the wreck of the Cheseborough
approached, Shariki Mayor Narita and his colleagues decided to seek a sistercity
relationship with the City of Bath, Maine, and to institute the Cheseborough
Cup swim meet. The Cheseborough Cup combines races with the goal of
accumulating a total distance equal to that of the distance between Shariki and
Bath, 10,200 km.
From Shariki-Bath to Aomori-Maine
The Shariki-Bath linkage led to efforts in Aomori and in Maine to form a sisterstate relationship. Governors McKernan and Kimura signed the sister-state agreement in 1994. Aomori prefectural and business leaders marked the years of exploration and negotiations with several visits. In 1995 Governor Kimura led a large delegation in a visit to Maine, hosted by Governor King. Governor King led a delegation to Aomori in 1999, as part of a trade delegation to Japan.
For more on the in-depth history of the relationship between Maine and Aomori, including delegations, exchanges, and the formation of Friends of Aomori and the Maine-Aomori Sister-State Advisory Council, please read the following summary written by our very own Don Nicoll.