Previous Find of the Month July/2020

July 2020

Promoting Goodwill & Friendship

Canberra Nara Peace Park

Canberra Nara Park - Section A - Archives ACT

Canberra Nara Park – Section A – ArchivesACT i

One of our previous Finds of the Month from March 2014 used records on Canberra’s sister city relationships that included details and background documents related to the development of an agreement with the city of Nara in Japan. Now, six years later, another companion record has entered the open period which shows a connection between the sister city agreement with Nara and the later construction and opening of the Canberra Nara Peace Park in 1999.

It was during a visit by a business delegation to Japan in October 1993 headed by Chief Minister Rosemary Follett, the first overseas delegation to be led by an ACT Chief Minister, that an official proclamation for sister city relations with Nara was signed. In March of 1994 a delegation of over one hundred officials and citizens from Nara led by Mayor Ohkawa, spent two days visiting Canberra. Their visit included a civic reception at Albert Hall, that was also attended by members of the Canberra community, to sign the final Sister City Agreement. ii

Agreement for Canberra - Nara Sister City Relations

Agreement for Canberra – Nara  Sister City Relation iii

We now have a record that reveals more of the story behind the push to have the two cities agree to a sister city relationship. In 1999, a file was raised to document the planning and arrangements for the official opening of the Canberra Nara Park, now known as the Canberra Nara Peace Park. iv The construction of the park within the Lennox Gardens site was nearing completion in April 1999 when Chief Minister Kate Carnell invited the media to a ‘special preview walkthrough’. The official opening, however, didn’t take place until October 1999 when the Deputy Mayor of Nara, accompanied by a nine-member delegation, visited Canberra for the occasion.

Canberra Nara Park - Block 10 Section 42 Yarralumla - Master Plan Details

Canberra Nara Park - Block 10  Section 42 Yarralumla - Master Plan v

Between two to three hundred people were expected to attend the official opening. They were told that the original idea for the construction of the park originated in 1995 when the Mayor of Nara gave two stone lanterns to the people of Canberra, the Kasuga lantern and the Yukimi lantern, both identical to lanterns that stood in Nara Park in Nara. The citizens of Nara had contributed to the funding for the construction of the park and the names of the 10,000 Nara citizens who had made donations were sealed in a time capsule beneath the Kasuga lantern. Proceedings at the official opening included entertainment provided by the Canberra Senior High School Concert Band, and onlookers witnessed the cutting of a ribbon and a traditional breaking of a ‘Japanese sake barrel lid’, which of course involved a tasting of the contents. vi

Perhaps the more surprising information included on this file is the content dealing with a movie premiere that the delegation and other invited guests attended on the previous evening. Along with the Chief Minister and World War II veteran and retired politician Tom Uren, the Director of the movie Shigeki Chiba gave a short speech before the premiere Australian screening of ‘Railroad of Love’. The movie’s central character, in part played by well-known Wiggle Anthony Field, was Father Tony Glynn who had played a significant part in rebuilding Australia–Japan relations following the Second World War. Chief Minister Carnell summarised the significance of Father Glynn’s work to Canberra;

At a time when Australia and Japan relations were at their darkest, Father Glynn took on a mission to Japan to promote peace and reconciliation. The fact that all of us have gathered here tonight is proof of the success of this mission. While every Australian can be grateful for the work Father Glynn carried out during the forty years he spent in Japan, Canberrans should be especially thankful. It was through Father Glynn’s suggestion that the Canberra and Nara Chambers of Commerce twinned and that ultimately an official sister city relationship was formed. Through the sister city relationship numerous educational, sporting and cultural exchanges take place annually. This promotes cultural awareness and understanding while providing the opportunity for personal friendships to be formed. I’m sure Father Glynn foresaw all of this and realised that while he may not be able to live forever, through the Canberra Nara sister city relationship, his work to promote peace could continue.vii

Father Glynn was made an honorary citizen of Nara, had close friendships with Nara Mayors Mr Nishida and Mr Ohkawa and received the ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ from the Japanese Government. He had lived and worked with the Japanese in Nara for over forty years until he passed away in December 1994, just seven months after the Sister City Agreement was signed. Planning for the Canberra Nara Peace Park was to begin soon after. It was officially opened on the 9 October 1999 viii and a plaque honouring Fr Tony Glynn was unveiled in the park in 2013.

Front Entry

Canberra Nara Park main entry ix

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File references

  • ArchivesACT: 99/10511 – International Development & Marketing, Canberra Nara Park Official Opening & Visiting Nara Delegation.
  • ArchivesACT: 97.02.36 - Canberra Nara Park - Block 10 Section 42 Yarralumla - Master Plan Details – ACT Landscapes.
  • ArchivesACT: PSP 97.02.07 - Canberra Nara Park Sections: ACT Landscapes


i. ArchivesACT, PSP 97.02.07 - Canberra Nara Park Sections: ACT Landscapes.

ii. ArchivesACT – Find of the Month March 2014

iii. ArchivesACT, A94/1187 - International Private School Students Program - Relations With Other Countries - Canberra / Nara Sister City


v. ArchivesACT, 97.02.36 - Canberra Nara Park - Block 10 Section 42 Yarralumla - Master Plan Details – ACT Landscapes.

vi. ArchivesACT, 99/10511 – International Development & Marketing, Canberra Nara Park Official Opening & Visiting Nara Delegation.

vii. Ibid.

viii. Ibid.

ix. Ibid.

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