The monument commemorating German-Japanese friendship can be found in Birkendorf on the Machecoul Square by the “Haus des Gastes” (Visitor’s House), right next to the tourist information centre.
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Birkendorf, which is part of the Ühlingen-Birkendorf municipality, houses a monument with Japanese inscriptions on the square of its French twin town. The information board next to it informs the visitor that a friendship treaty was agreed between the Japanese and the Germans in Ühlingen-Birkendorf in November 1978. A Japanese delegation of 52 people had been there previously to take a closer look at Birkendorf. Why Birkendorf? It had all to do with the coverage of a competition called “Making our village more beautiful”. The village in the Black Forest Highlands won the federal title in 1973 and the news spread all the way to Japan. Ryuzo Takayama, a professor at the University of Tokyo, and Seizo Sugiura, head of an association supporting rural Japanese communities, arrived together to find out more about Birkendorf. A German-Japanese friendship developed straight away. It was initiated by the former mayor Karl Sternadl. Large-scale politics also acknowledged the important contribution he made to binational relations. In 1985, during the World Economic Summit in Bonn, the bearer of the Federal Cross of Merit and only representative from Baden-Wuerttemberg was invited on a steamboat trip along the Rhine by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Sternadl’s efforts also enabled the town twinning between Ühlingen-Birkendorf and the Japanese town Asahi which belongs to the prefecture of Yamaguchi. Many visits followed over the years – both here as well as in the Japanese twin town. In Birkendorf, this friendship was set in stone.