Yao, Japan

Affiliated in 1969

Yao and Bellevue celebrated 40 years of being sister cities in July 2009, with Mayor Seita Tanaka and other Yao officials visiting Bellevue. Video of Gift PresentationBellevue’s sister city relationship with Yao grew from an original meeting of the two cities at an International Junior Chamber of Commerce Convention in 1963. In 1969, Mayor Ohashi led an official delegation from Japan to Bellevue for the formal signing of the proclamation. In 1970, the City of Bellevue invited residents to organize a support organization, the International Cooperation Committee of Bellevue, (now the Bellevue Sister Cities Association).


Yao City is located within the Osaka Prefecture, directly to the east of Osaka City, a historical city that has flourished for over 1,500 years. The population of Yao is approximately 280,000, and the city’s land area is 41,000 square kilometers. Yao was established in 1948, when three independent cities were merged.


Rolls of Kawachi cotton fabric displayed for their fine textures and design.In the early 1960s, Yao was still largely agricultural. Today, it is a full-fledged city dealing with common Japanese urban challenges. Yao has designated and developed a large area for industrial use in the southern part of the city. Food and printing companies as well as electronic industries, office automation machines and manufacturers and fashion industries have been attracted to this area.

Kawachi cotton is a product of Yao that once enjoyed the glory of being a great industry. The special cotton nearly disappeared in the late 19th century because of the increasing popularity and supply of foreign-made cotton. Kawachi cotton is becoming popular again for its special coarse texture, thick thread, dyeing techniques and craftsmanship, and is making a dramatic comeback. An exhibit of Kawachi cotton was held at Bellevue City Hall in July, 2001.

To honor its relationship with Yao, Bellevue established the Yao Japanese Garden at Kelsey Creek Park in 1971. The garden was relocated to the Bellevue Botanical Garden in 1992. In 1994, the garden was officially opened to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the cities’ partnership.

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