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Olympic spirit burns brightly as S.L., sister city reunite

Fashionably or not, the Salt Lake delegation was just a bit late Monday morning for the Matsumoto City-Salt Lake City Affiliation Ceremony.

But if the ever-precise Japanese were bothered, they didn't show it.Just before the 10 a.m. starting time in the International Room of the Matsumoto Prefectual Cultural Hall, the Matsumoto delegation was seated on its side of the room. The Salt Lake side was yet empty. But at 10:05, when Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini led the delegation in, Matsumoto officials stood and clapped as television camera crews and newspaper photographers scurried to get the best pictures.

For the people of Matsumoto, this was a very important event.

In fact, a local reporter told the Deseret News that it is rare to have so many media people at such an event.

"We have three sister-city relationships," the reporter said. "Salt Lake City is the oldest and most important."

By their remarks, the dignitaries certainly agreed.

"It is a sincere and great honor and pleasure to enjoy the wonderful hospitality for which you have become famous," Corradini told her hosts.

Monday's gathering was to mark the 40th anniversary of the two cities' sister relationship. While the actual anniversary date is Nov. 27, the cities met Monday because of Salt Lake's participation in the 1998 Winter Games in nearby Nagano.

And, as speeches were given and small talk was made, the Olympic theme was strong.

"Seven years ago, Nagano and Salt Lake City competed for the 1998 Winter Games," Matsumoto Mayor Tadashi Aruga told the group. "And Matsumoto was in a difficult position. Now we are very happy for you."

Aruga, who attended Sunday night's Olympic closing ceremonies, said he was impressed with Salt Lake City's five-minute pre-sen-tation.

"We felt of your frontier spirit," he said.

Corradini said celebrating the sister-city relationship on the heals of the Olympics was appropriate because the purposes of the two - to increase cultural understanding and foster peace - are similar.

Then it was time for the gifts.

Aruga presented Corradini with an ornate Samurai war helmet. "We, of course, do not use these anymore," he said.

Corradini responded with a hand-woven Navajo rug. "This is something from our history," she said.

Matsumoto City Council Chairman Tsuneo Momose also gave Salt Lake City Council Chairman Bryce Jolley a helmet. Jolley responded with a mantle-size statute of an elk.

Matsumoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry Executive Director Fumio Hongo gave an oil painting of Matsumoto to Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce President-elect Alan Layton.

Layton responded with a brown Salt Lake Organizing Committee jacket, a frequent sight in and around Nagano during the Games.

And finally, Matsumoto delegation gave a Samurai helmet to SLOC President Frank Joklik. Joklik responded with a glass desk-top obelisk showing the Salt Lake 2002 logo.

Dale Largent, who represented the American Embassy, noted the United States now has some 200 sister-city relationship with Japanese cities, the most of any country.