A delegation of Council staff, the Mayor and community representatives are in Saiki City as part of a visit to mark the 15th anniversary of the signing of the formal declaration of friendship between the two centres.
Cr Sellers said the visit marked an important milestone in the shared history of the Sister Cities.
"We are making the trip to Saiki City to acknowledge an even bigger journey, the one entered into 15 years ago by the former Gladstone City Council and our hosts, which started with the signing of the formal declaration of friendship," Cr Sellers said.
"Since then, the ties between the two regions have continued to prosper through the exchange of art, business ideas, sporting events and student visits."
Cr Sellers said the visit would provide additional benefits for the Gladstone Region, with the small Council contingent joined by interested members of the community keen to expand their knowledge in their respective fields.
Gladstone Industry Leadership Group Chief Executive Officer Kurt Heidecker, Rocksalt Restaurant and Lounge Bar owner and Executive Chef Jason Faint, and Sister City Group President Wendy Marsh will accompany Council staff on the visit.
- Monday, November 7: Welcome ceremony at Hotel Kinsuien.
- Tuesday, November 8: Meeting with Saiki City Mayor Yasuyoshi Nishijima; Eco centre inspection and visit to Kangaroo Park.
- Wednesday, November 9: Honjou suisha water mill tour; Miura shipyard inspection; Visit to Peace Memorial Park Centre; and Sister City 15 years anniversary ceremony.
- Thursday, November 10: Farewell from Saiki City ceremony and Hell tour (hot springs at Beppu).
- Friday, November 11: Visit to Kyushu National Museum.
A royal reception, the meeting of Mayors, a tour of a waste recyling plant and a tree planting ceremony at Kangaroo Park were the hightights of the first full day of the Sister City visit.
Gladstone Regional Council's delegation, led by Mayor Gail Sellers, was stunned to start its day by drawing the applause of hundreds of Saiki City Council employees upon arriving for a morning meeting with Saiki City Mayor Yasuyoshi Nishijima and other high-ranking council officials.
The overwhelming welcome was followed by a warm reception by Saiki City Council leaders with much of the discussion centred on the similarities of the two regions and the imporance of maintaining the strong bond of friendship between the two centres.
An exchange of gifts between the Mayors further cemented the commitment to the strong relationship between Gladstone and Saiki.
The Gladstone delegation then visited the Banjo Eco Centre to view the city's waste management process.
The visitors were suitably impressed with the efficiency of the plant's operations and the Saiki City community's dedication to sustainable practices, with residents willing to play active roles in the recycling process.
As a result of the visit, all members of the delegation left the facillity with the view that, although the Gladstone Region has done much to improve its recycling service, there was much that the Council and community could do to further enchance its waste management proficiency.
A picturesque ferry trip to Oonyujima follwed, with Cr Sellers helping plant a cherry tree at Kangaroo Park, Saiki City's garden of native Australian flora which is dedicated to its Sister City relationship with the Gladstone Region.
Cr Sellers told those gathered for the official ceremony that she was delighted to have played a small part in adding to the beauty of the peaceful garden.
The Gladstone contingent started its second full day in Saiki City by splitting into two groups.
It was not a sign of dissent in the ranks, but rather the result of Rocksalt Restaurant and Lounge Bar owner and head chef Jason Faint's desire to observe preparations and discuss culinary matters with Kinsuien Motel restaurant head chef Shinji Matsumoto.
Jason, accompanied by Gladstone Industry Leadership Group Chief Executive Officer Kurt Heidecker and official translator for the Gladstone group Izumi Kearns, observed Mr Matsumoto and his team at work in the kitchen, and discussed many topics including food preparation and presentation, staffing, and the use of local produce.
Having also visited a local fish market early the previous day, Jason and Kurt noted that the seafood being prepared in Mr Matsumoto's kitchen was had been bought fresh from the same market earlier in the day.
The remainder of the Gladstone group joined Mayor Gail Sellers on a vist to the picturesque Honjou Suisha water mill, a popular picnic and swimming spot for Saiki familes in the summer, followed by a visit to the Saiki City emergency services centre.
The state of the art emergency services centre, which unlike its Australian equivalents is funded and administered by council, drew admiration from the Gladstone visitors who were particularly impressed the quick emergency response times it engendered through the use of advanced technology, particularly the high use of CCTV and GPS services.
Jason, Kurt and Izumi then joined the other Gladstone visitors to inspect the Miura shipyard, visit the Peace Memorial Park and walk the Path of History and Literature, and then take tea at Kyushintei traditional tea house.
The Gladstone Regional Council delegation said goodbye to new friends at the Sister City 15 Years Anniversary Ceremony at the Kinsuien hotel's events room on Wednesday night.
The Gladstone visitors were guests of honour at a generous banquet, with traditional Japanese dancing and performance adding to a memorable final night in Saiki City.
Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers and her Saiki City counterpart Yasuyoshi Nishijima were among those to speak at the ceremony, both emphasising that the visit, although short, had done much to consolidate the Sister City friendship shared by the two centres.
There was an exchange of gifts between Saiki City and Gladstone Region representatives with Cr Sellers accepting a magnificent ceremonial mask created by a master craftsman which will be placed on display at the Gladstone Regional Council Civic Centre upon the delegation's return.
The Gladstone group was also persuaded to take to the stage to deliver a rendition of Waltzing Matilda.
Rocksalt Restaurant and Lounge Bar owner and head chef Jason Faint rose early Thursday morning to spend time at the restaurant owned by Mayor Nishijima, adding to valuable experience gained on the visit.
The formal component of the visit was also completed on Thursday morning when Saiki City Council representatives, including Mayor Nishijima, were joined by other locals the Gladstone delegation had befriended in attending a farewell ceremony for the Gladstone party.
The two groups parted ways confident that the bond between the two centres would continue to prosper and that valuable contacts had been forged by the visit.
Formalities completed, the Gladstone group began its journey to Fukuoka Airport, and were delighted to visit to Beppu and its astonishing geothermal hot springs and a geyser, on the way.
Having taken in the sights at Beppu, it was then back on the bus for the remainder of the journey to Fukuoka.
The Gladstone delegation continued its Japanese education with a visit to the Dazaifutenmangu shrine and the Kyushu National Musuem on Friday morning before departing Fukuoka Airport on their long return trip to Gladstone.