NAP Tour Joins Kobe Matsuri, Visits Kyoto, Tokyo, Takayama

    NAP Tour Joins Kobe Matsuri, Visits Kyoto, Tokyo, Takayama

    By Bruce Rutledge
    NAP General Manager

    Tour guides Kenzo and Bruce Rutledge pose for a selfie with Takumi Ohno

    Seattle showed up big for this year’s Kobe Matsuri, held on a rainy Sunday afternoon in April in downtown Kobe, Japan. To celebrate our ties with our oldest sister city, Mayor Bruce Harrell and his wife, Joanne, led an exuberant delegation through the streets.

    Mayor Bruce Harrell and his wife Joanne lead the Seattle delegation through the streets of downtown Kobe Courtesy of Brian Chu Photography

    The group, which included representatives from the Puyallup and Lummi tribes, representatives from Seattle’s sister-city delegation and participants in the North American Post Japan spring tour, waved Kobe and Seattle flags and wore specially made T-shirts designed by Shaun Peterson, a member of the Puyallup tribe who also created the Coast Salish Story Pole now standing near Kobe City Hall.

    Seattle and Kobe tied the sister-city knot in 1957, establishing one of the first sister-city relationships in the world.

    Lummi leader Joseph Hillaire carved a story pole commemorating the friendship between Seattle and Kobe in 1961, but that pole deteriorated over the years, prompting the city to create a new one.

    The 14 members of the North American Press Japan spring tour were thrilled to join the parade. Our schedule just happened to put us in nearby Kyoto on the weekend of the festival, so when the sister-city delegation invited us, we jumped at the chance.

    NAP’s tours are back in full force after a pause during the COVID pandemic. We have held three of our Japan 101 tours since 2023. These tours are perfect for first-timers. We visit Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Takayama and Kanazawa. The Japan 101 tours are immersive — expect to put in at least 10,000 steps every day.

    Our fall tour will be to Shikoku Island with a very special guest. Curious? Turn to page 5 to see who will be joining us! To get on our mailing list, drop us a line at