The cities of Salem, Massachusetts and Ota, a borough of Tokyo in Japan, have had a wonderful sister-city relationship for over a decade. The official sister-city relationship began in 1991 as an outgrowth of the century-old affiliation between Salem's Peabody Essex Museum and the Ota Folk Museum.
Through this unique relationship, hundreds of students, educators, cultural and business representatives, as well as municipal officials from Ota, have visited Salem as official participants in our sister-city program. Other Ota residents, aware of the special relationship, as well as additional travelers from all over Japan, have also visited historic Salem as tourists and on private visits.
Every year, citizens of Salem open their homes as hostess to Japanese students and adult "Homestay" visitors. The City, the Museum, Salem State College, and the Salem School Department all cooperate with Salem Ota Cultural Exchange organizers to host our sister-city visitors with hearty international hospitality. Likewise, groups of Salem area students are welcomed and hosted in Ota each summer.
The Salem Ota Cultural Exchange was formally organized as the Salem-Ota Club in the spring of 2000. It has since been renamed the Salem Ota Cultural Exchange to better reflect the organization’s purpose and has incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization.This program is relatively new, but the spirit of the exchange is deeply rooted in Salem’s rich maritime past. Participants in the sister-city relationship are truly fortunate to enjoy the many programs and services of the Peabody Essex Museum, which so effectively commemorates our traditional connections.
The members of the Salem Ota Cultural Exchange have come together to support and to enhance this worthwhile relationship. Participation and financial contributions from interested organizations, from businesses, and from private citizens to assist in these endeavors are welcome!