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Hatsukaichi City and Mont Saint-Michel (France) Conclusion and Signing of Tourism and Friendship City Agreement
Mayor Eric Vannier and Mayor Katsuhiro Shinno shake hands at Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima.
Mayor Eric Vannier trying grilled oysters at Omotesando shopping street at Miyajima
The two mayors sign the Agreement

On May 16, 2009, the Signing Ceremony for the Tourism and Friendship City Agreement between Hatsukaichi City and Mont Saint-Michel took place at Miyajima’s Itsukushima Shrine, welcoming from France Mr. Eric Vannier, Mayor of Mont Saint-Michel.  
On the day, Mayor Eric Vannier traveled from Hiroshima City to Miyajima via the World Heritage sea route. He was welcomed at Miyajima Pier by Hatsukaichi Mayor Katsuhiro Shinno, as well as the Honorary Consul of the Societe Franco-Japonaise de Hiroshima, members of the National Diet, Prefectural Assembly and City Assembly, and other local volunteers.
The two mayors walked along the Omotesando shopping street from Miyajima Pier to Itsukushima Shrine, the venue of the Signing Ceremony. On the way they had friendly interactions with the shopkeepers, tourists from Japan and overseas, as well as children who were visiting Miyajima on school excursions, thus deepening relations with the people.

At the Signing Ceremony, watched by many tourists and others, the two mayors signed the Agreement, in which they pledged to advertise tourism in each other’s region and hold events based on common themes, to further develop cultural exchange. They committed to continue to work to strengthen the connections between the two regions.

Katsuhiro Shinno, Mayor of Hatsukaichi City

It is a great pleasure for Hatsukaichi City to be able to achieve the joining of the two cities in this way. Mont Saint-Michel is a source of pride for the people of France, and one of the representative tourist destinations in Europe. Miyajima is also one currently one of the top tourist destinations in Japan. I believe that strengthening our ties and enhancing the attractions of the two regions will definitely bring positive benefits for both of us in terms of promotion of tourism and enhancement of cultural exchange. We aim to continue to develop our city into one that brings spiritual enrichment and affluence to many people.

Eric Vannier, Mayor of Mont Saint-Michel

I am grateful that our two locations, with one thousand years of history, have come closer despite our different cultures. Going beyond the levels of state, race and culture, let us move forward together as witness to this, with passion for people’s great history. Our two cities dazzle among all locations in the world as symbols of the magnificence of humankind. I am sure that we will be able to connect with each other on a variety of different themes, including culture, spirituality, history, cultural heritage, the environment and cuisine, through the friendship and exchange that I am sure will continue for many years to come.

Tourism and Friendship City Agreement
Commemorative gifts

On the day of the Signing Ceremony, the two mayors exchanged gifts to commemorate the Tourism and Friendship City Agreement: from Hatsukaichi City, a tray engraved with Miyajima, and from Mont Saint-Michel, a wood-block print of Mont Saint-Michel.

World Heritage Site Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel. Monastery that was built on a small island off the west coast of France. One of the Catholic pilgrimage sites, registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1979.

Mont Saint-Michel is a monastery built on a small island located off the Normandy coast in the western part of France.
According to legend, in the year 708 St. Michael the Archangel appeared to the bishop at the time, Aubert, in a dream, and instructed him to build a church on the rocky mountain there. Initially Aubert did not believe the dream and ignored the instructions, but when St. Michael appeared for the third time, he touched Aubert on the forehead and strongly ordered that the church be built. Believing the instructions, Aubert built a small church on the rocky mountain. Once the church was built, the land around Mont Saint-Michel, which was previously connected to mainland France, sunk into the sea overnight, making it a solitary island. 
From that time Mont Saint-Michel was treated as a sacred site and became a place of worship. Initially the church was small, but was repeatedly torn down and reconstructed to grow in size over many years. 
When the 100 Years’ War broke out between England and France the monastery was closed down and used as a fortress. Fortunately the enemy avoided attacking the island due to the great variations in tides and currents, and passed through the war without once falling. 
In the post-war period it was revived as a monastery. However after the French Revolution it was used as a prison and feared as the prison (bastille) in the sea. The monks returned in 1966 and it was returned once again to its current role as a monastery.
Currently visitors can cross from the mainland to the island along the banks (the bridge is under reconstruction). Close to three million people visit every year.

Official Website of the French Government Tourist office

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