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和田山

Wadayama is a small town located in Japan, on the island of Honshu, in the Hyogo prefecture, and is the sister city to Newberg, Oregon. It is, in fact, so small, that even most Japanese do not recognize the name, and would think that one meant to say Wakayama, another Japanese town. Some nearby cities include Himeji, which is to the south, and the former capital of Japan, Kyoto, which is to the southeast. From Wadayama, Kyoto is only three hours by train, and three and a half hours by car. Tokyo, the current capital of Japan, is ten hours away, if traveling by car, but only five if traveling by Shinkansen, or bullet train.

In 1956, five small villages united to form current day Wadayama. Surrounding the city are towering mountains, dense forests, and the tranquil Maruyama-gawa River, that flows through the center of the town. The major industries in Wadayama include: agriculture, food processing, and the manufacture of furniture and steel products. Based on its position, with respect to highways and rail systems, Wadayama is ideal for trade and commerce.

Historically, Wadayama became an important strategic site during the Sengoku Period (1470 - 1570), a time in which Daimyo's (warlords) fought for power. It was because of the turmoil surrounding this area that Mochitoyo Yamana constructed Takeda Castle. The remains of Takeda Castle can still be visited in Wadayama.

Summers in Wadayama are usually very damp (around June), but are quickly followed by a drier period (around August). September usually means that typhoon season is close by. However, because mountains surround Wadayama, the full effect of the rain and wind is rarely felt there. The winter usually means heavy snowfall.

There are many interesting places to visit in Wadayama, including: the Takeda Castle ruins, the Takeda waterfalls, and the Takeda Furniture Factory. Also, new additions to Wadayama include Jupiter Hall, a multipurpose exhibition center that can accommodate 800 people that was named for Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C - Major, 551 Jupiter, and the new department store, JUSCO.

Within Wadayama, there are a total of seven schools, all of which pride themselves on academics. There are five elementary schools (Itoi Elementary, Toga Elementary, Hirata Elementary, Takeda Elementary, and Okura Elementary), one middle school (Wadayama Junior High), and one high school (Wadayama Shyogyo, or "Washo").

Wadayama Junior High (WJH) is also the sister school to Chehalem Valley Middle School (CVMS), located in Newberg Oregon. Every year, a group of students from both WJH and CVMS visit the other school in an attempt to learn about each other's culture. Also, every other year, there is an International Youth Summit in which students from around the world gather to discuss important issues. This last year, the summit was held in Wadayama, with students from Japan, Singapore, Mongolia, and The United States in attendance. The topic of the summit was how to make the world better through cultural understanding.

For more information on Wadayama visit:
http://www.wadayamacho-hyg.ed.jp/~wadajhs/
Or, for more information on the cultural exchange between WJH and CVMS, visit:
http://www.newberg.k12.or.us/cvms/wadayama_new/Wadayama_3/wadayama1.html

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