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February 25, 2021

Searching for sister city’s long-lost penpal

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Kyoko Morioka, pictured in her school days, is looking for a former penpal from Lismore.

It’s a mystery worthy of a sister-city relationship like that of Lismore and Japan’s Yamato Takada.

Half a century ago, about the time the sister-city relationship was struck, Kyoko Okuda (now Morioka), a 12-year-old Japanese girl from Yamato Takada, began writing to a penpal in Lismore.

She lost touch with him sometime after, but contacted Lismore City Council recently ahead of the upcoming 50-year celebrations in the hope the childhood friends could be reunited.

Kyoko is part of the Japanese delegation coming to Lismore in August for the Lismore/Yamato Takada sister-city 50th anniversary.

The council’s coordinator of the anniversary, Sue Wade, is hoping to find the missing penpal and has only three months to do so.

‘If the two of them could meet, it would just be so lovely,’ she said.

‘His name is Peter Daimond, [possibly Diamond] and Kyoko said from memory she remembers that his family or relatives owned a banana plantation in Lismore.

‘He was in high school at the time. Unfortunately she cannot remember the school’s name or other information, so we’re desperately hoping to get the word out for her.

‘If anyone knows who this person might be, we’d love to hear from them. I can’t stop hoping that we can find this gentleman.’


Sue said the delegation from Yamato Takada has grown to 50, with people ranging in age from 14 to 83 visiting Lismore in August to attend a week of celebrations.

Several events are being organised, the most recent being a public address by Father Paul Glynn at the Lismore Workers Club on August 5, organised by Lismore City Lions Club.

Father Glynn is the brother of the late Tony Glynn, who instigated the sister-city relationship between Lismore and Yamato Takada. It was the first of its kind in Australia.

A Lismore-born priest, Father Paul Glynn worked as a missionary for many years in Japan during the 1950s and 1970s and has spent countless years trying to forge peace between the two nations. He was awarded Order of Australia for his work in 2001.

Celebrations also include the unveiling of a new monument on August 7 to mark the 50-year friendship followed by an official dinner and presentation that evening.

Schools, community groups and the general public are also invited to take part in Yamato Takada Day on August 8 at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre.

People not only can meet their Japanese ‘sisters’ but courtesy of their generosity partake in a range of Japanese cultural workshops such as kimono dressing, a Japanese tea party, flower arranging, calligraphy demonstrations, origami lessons, tapestry displays, kite flying and much more.

For more information or to provide any information on Kyoko’s Lismore penpal, phone Sue Wade at Lismore City Council on 1300 878 387.


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