To celebrate the 50th Anniversary milestone, the Mayor of Minami Town (formerly Hiwasa) and a delegation visited Cairns and took part in the Cairns Festival, held from 23rd August-1st Sept 2019.

The Mayor brought with him approx. 30 delegates from the Community and Minami Region including a group of traditional puppeteers who will offered a free traditional “Joururi Puppet” performance and experience, to the Cairns community on Sunday 25th August on the Cairns Esplanade with three afternoon puppet performances.

Also, as part of the events and celebrations for 50 years of friendship with Cairns, to further commemorate this special occasion, the Minami Town Tourist Association decided to welcome a Cairns citizen as a new member of “Minami Kame Family”. A character costume was created from a design inspired by the uniform colors of the Australia National Soccer and other sporting team.

The Minami Town Tourism Association invited the Town public to join into a contest for a costume design that would be suitable for a ‘Cairns’ turtle family member, with Ms. Kyoko Taniguchi, design being selected in Green and Yellow, a pendant and a belt buckle in the shape of Australia so that the location of Cairns City Queensland can shine and be identified.

The costume of a new Turtle family member for the Public Relations Character will be known as the “Kame Mate” Family (Turtle Family) of Minami Town Tourist Association in Tokushima Prefecture Japan. This was announced in the media at the Hiwasa Michi no Eki (Hiwasa Road Station) on the 17 July 2019.

There are currently 9 members of the Kame Family. The 10th new member is call “Kame Mate” and the person selected by the Minami Town Tourism Association was Jeff Haynes, Cairns Citizen, and President of Australia Japan Society Far North Queensland. The presentation of the costume to Jeff Haynes was on Friday 23rd August 2019 by Minami Town Mayor and Vice President of the Minami Town Tourism Association with the delegation and friends at a private dinner function.

“Kame (Turtle) Mate” means best friend in Australia and Jeff Haynes and his wife Makoto Kamatani Haynes from Cairns have visited and stayed in Minami Town on multiple occasions, therefore Jeff Haynes was an easy ‘Kame’ choice. Jeff will be expected to wear the new Kame-family costumes at various local events to promote the special 50 years friendship between Cairns and Minami Town Japan and the on-going promotion of the Cairns Japanese Sister City.

Jeff Haynes commented that the people of Minami Town have become special friends over the years, they are welcoming and hospitable, and it’s my privilege to be the International Cairns extended ‘Kame-Mate’ family.