As political leaders and other guests visiting from Matsumoto, Japan, smile and wave in today's Days of '47 Parade, one member of the delegation will be running alongside the float with a camera and notebook.

Reporter Tanaka Satoko has been covering Matsumoto leaders' visit to Salt Lake City this week for the Shimin Times, telling the stories of the 50-year friendship between the sister cities.

"It started as company to company and group to group," Tanaka said of the sister-city relationship, "but it became more personal."

Tanaka and Yusuke Shimpo, executive editor of the Matsumoto-based Shimin Times, visited the Deseret News on Wednesday to renew the 17-year partnership between the daily newspapers.

Gifts were exchanged between the foreign journalists and the Deseret News editorial board during a meeting that was less formal than the one on May 29, 1991, when representatives of the companies signed a sister-city newspaper agreement.

"We are here to rekindle our partnership," Yusuke said.

Many friendships have been formed since Matsumoto and Salt Lake City began their sister-city relationship in 1958. According to Matsumoto's Web site (www.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp/english/), nearly 750 residents of the Japanese city have visited Salt Lake City as part of the sister city program, and about 450 Utahns have taken a trip to Matsumoto because of the partnership.

"Salt Lake City and Matsumoto have a lot in common — the landscape and the friendly people," Yusuke said.

About 225,000 people live in Matsumoto, located 110 miles northwest of Tokyo and bounded on the west by the Japanese Alps. Temperatures range much like they do in Salt Lake City, though Matsumoto gets about three times the annual precipitation, according to Salt Lake City's sister city Web site, www.saltlakesistercities .com/matsumoto.htm.

The 59-member Matsumoto delegation — including Mayor Akira Sugenoya, City Councilman Shinichi Okubo and Kazuaki Kubo, consulate-general of Japan in Denver — toured Salt Lake City on Wednesday, visiting Temple Square, This Is the Place Heritage Park and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

The delegation will meet with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and members of the City Council before today's parade.

A reception is planned for 6 p.m. Friday at the Wagner Jewish Community Center, 2 N. Medical Drive.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com