Richmond / Shimada

Friendship Commission

Building Friendships Since 1961

The Richmond / Shimada Friendship Commission is a city sanctioned program that promotes people-to-people connections between Richmond California and Shimada Japan.

The sister city relationship started on Dec, 12 1961 in Japan, and was followed the founding of the Richmond commission on Febuary 10th 1964.

Student Exchange

Twice per year, high schoolers and adult chaperones are exchanged between the two cities. Check out the photo on this website for a peek at our program.

If you are interested in participating, click here.


Our exchange program is based on a “Homestay” model. This means that when students visit they stay with local families. Homestay gives students an authentic international experience and builds bonds which last long past their visit. Many students stay with the family of the student they hosted earlier in the year.

Click here if you are interested in hosting a student!

Become a Comissionor or Volunteer

Our organization operates as a commission sponsored by the city or Richmond, California. Commissioners apply through Richmond City Hall and are approved by the mayor and the city council. The application process is easy but can take a while to process (Up to 4 months). You do not have to be a commissioner to attend our meetings or participate in our programs, in fact, many of our volunteers are not commissioners. Being a commissioner simply allows you to vote on major planning decisions, approve meeting notes, and run for leadership roles like president or budget chair. Before applying we recommend you attend a couple of our meetings to get a feel for our organization.

To sign up for meeting announcements, fill out this form!

To apply for a commissioner click here. (Commissioner Slots are Currently Full)

Community Outreach

We promote connections between the community and our Japanese visitors, we hold several community events which are free and available to the public. These events include a welcome dinner, several conversations nights and a Sayonara Farewell Party. Click here to see our event calendar.

You can also find more information and meeting notes on the sister city page of the City of Richmond website.

Shimada, Our Sister City

The Cities of Richmond and Shimada, Japan have been sister cities since 1961. Shimada is a city located in Shizuoka Prefecture of central Japan. Tea and mandarin oranges are cultivated on the plateau near the city. It’s primary industries also include lumber products and machine manufacturing.

During the Edo Period (1600-1868), Shimada was a crossing point for the Oi River and was a prosperous post-station town on the Tokaido highway. Its importance in cross-Japan travel made it a popular subject for artists. Shimada has been depicted in woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige and in poetry by Matsuo Basho, a 17th century poet who helped perfect the art of haiku.


Highschool Students and Adults from the following areas can apply to be a friendship ambassador and travel to Shimada Japan:



El Cerrito


San Pablo


Bayview-Montalvin Manor

El Sobrante


Tara Hills

Click Here to Download the application for Students and Adults

Important Dates

The next group of student ambassadors will visit Japan in Summer of 2024.

Event Calendar

Check back here for updated list of upcoming events, please join us!

Contact Us

To contact us click here.