New Website Format

Big ConcordNanae Logo



Welcome to the newly formatted “”.  If you’ve visited this site before, you’ve probably noticed it looks quite a bit different lately!  By changing the site’s appearance I am hoping to provide a more visual experience for readers.  Friends back home often ask me, “what’s Japan/Hokkaido/Nanae like?”  and conversely, I often find Japanese people asking me, “what kind of place is Concord?”  Rather than simply tell you about it, it’s much more effective if I show you, and with that in mind I’m hoping to incorporate a lot of useful media elements into the blog section and information pages of this site.  This starts with the photo slider on the main page, which I hope to use as a way to advertise new content relating to everything Concord-Nanae!  Please check back often, as new pictures and links will be appearing frequently on the main page.

Additionally, you’ll notice that blog posts now feature the author’s picture on the left hand side. Now that there are two Concordians working in Nanae, its my hope that this site can become a true “multi-author blog”.  David McLean Shoup, the new Nanae ALT, is an experienced writer and blogger, so look out for his picture popping up on some new posts soon!  Between the two of us, we’re hoping to feature new blog content every week!


New CIR Departs for Nanae! Changes due for

Dear fans and followers of The Concord-Nanae Connection:

As many of you know, Concord and Nanae are proud to have appointed Mr. Nick Ferbert as their new Coordinator of International Relations. After being officially sworn into office at the Concord Town House last Saturday, Nick will return to Nanae this afternoon with the members of the 2012 Sister City 15th Anniversary delegation. The delegates included Nanae Mayor Yasukazu Nakamiya, 5 members of the Nanae Town Assembly including Chair Yuichi Yokota, and Nanae’s Advisor to the CIR Ms. Emi Kimura. They are set to arrive in Nanae on Thursday morning Japan time.

It’s my pleasure to announce that Nick is planning to continue working on this website in addition to his other duties as CIR. Nick brings an excellent new set of skills, including a keen business sense, to the Concord-Nanae sister city relationship, and I’m very pleased to leave control of this website in his capable hands. It’s also worth noting that he’ll probably be much larger asset to the local basketball team than I was. Alongside 6’6″ Concord ALT Ben Haydock (CCHS ’07), Concord’s presence on the courts in Nanae will surely become a formidable force.

Dr. Nurenberg (middle) plays the taiko in Nanae

With all this in mind, please note that the appearance of may change in the coming weeks and months as we start accepting content from multiple authors. I’m particularly excited to welcome two new authors to the site: Dr. David Nurenberg, who is the faculty advisor to the Concord-Carlisle Sci-Fi Club, and Koji Matsuyama, who advises the Nanae High School English Club.

Dr. Nurenberg is Concord’s official Sister School Coordinator, and leads the CCHS Sci-Fi Club on official visits to Nanae almost every year.  Koji Matsuyama-sensei just finished his first visit to Concord this week, and his

Koji Matsuyama-sensei

strong background in media will undoubtedly become a great asset as we develop new paths for communication between Sci-Fi and English Club students and our communities at large.

I hope you all can share in my excitement for the future of this website, Nick’s work as CIR, and the development of the Concord-Nanae sister city relationship. It has been a pleasure helping it change and grow these last 2 years.

Ever forward,

Ben Mirin

CIR 2010-2012

Fall 2012 Delegation Arrives!

After a trying evening of delays, missed flights, and an overnight in Chicago, Nanae’s 2012 Fall delegation made it safely to Concord yesterday! Tonight we will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of our sister city relationship. Watch our Flickr Photostream for photographs from the celebration and the dinner, and, Wi-Fi permitting, TUNE IN at 4:00PM Eastern Standard Time for a live video covering the Mayor’s presentation at the Concord Town House!

-Former CIR Ben Mirin

The Live Video:

Science-Fiction and Agriculture: Concord Delegation Finalized for April 2012

By Ben Mirin, CIR

In place of this week’s episode of “Sister Cities,” I bring you an exciting update (the import of which should explain why there will also be no Sister Cities episode on Friday, April 13th, but look for more delegation updates around that time!):

This week, Nanae’s International Relations section has finalized the schedule for its next official delegation visit from Concord. Arriving on April 10th, 30 Concord delegates will tour Nanae (and the nearby city of Hakodate), home-stay with local Nanae families, and attend various cultural events organized specifically for their four-day stay.

This upcoming delegation has a central focus, since 25 of its 30 members will represent the Concord-Carlisle High School Science-Fiction Club. Led by CCHS English teacher and Sister School Coordinator Dr. David Nurenburg, this will be the Club’s second time making an official visit to the Japanese sister city, after a groundbreaking trip in 2009. (click for photos)

Concord’s delegation will also consist of Concord-Carlisle Librarian Robin Chichetti, Concord translator Junko Kargula, Concord-Carlisle Nurse Cary Bestor Williams, and the delegation leader, Concord-Carlisle Vice-Principal Dr. Alan Weinstein. Collectively, their visit will sustain a 15-year tradition of April delegations from Concord to Nanae. It will also mark 2 years of a healthy sister school relationship between Concord-Carlisle and Nanae High Schools, poignantly, at a time when the Japanese school year is just beginning. Continue reading “Science-Fiction and Agriculture: Concord Delegation Finalized for April 2012”

Trailer: “Sister Cities” Web Series by Ben Mirin, CIR

By Ben Mirin, CIR

Ten weeks.

Ten episodes.

Ten in-depth interviews with citizens of Nanae, Japan.

Join me on Friday, MARCH 2nd for the premier of my new web series, “Sister Cities,” here on and on YouTube!

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The Concord-Nanae Student News Exchange Begins

By Ben Mirin, CIR

April 25th, 2011

Hitomi Shihoya

On April 11th, Concord-Carlisle High School’s student newspaper, The Voice, published its first article submitted by a student from Nanae High School.  Second-year student (high school junior) Hitomi Shihoya of the Nanae High School English Club wrote about her experience of Japan’s terrible earthquake last month and her reflections on its aftermath.

“I was very surprised because I had never seen such a large-scale earthquake in my whole life,” Shihoya writes.  “I came back to everyday life in a few days, but I am very anxious because I don’t know when the next natural disaster will happen. I am also very worried about more aftershocks, and the nuclear radiation in Fukushima.”

Shihoya’s article also expresses personal gratitude toward the US and other foreign nations that contributed to Japan’s relief efforts following the disaster. The complete text of her article can be seen on The Voice‘s website.

This publication marks the launch of what will hopefully become an ongoing exchange between high school students in Concord, Carlisle, and Nanae.  The projects’ orchestrators–the CIR and the faculty advisors to The Voice and the English Club–hope eventually to establish a written cross-cultural dialogue between students in both towns on at least a monthly basis.

Concord-Carlisle High School and Nanae High School are officially sister schools.  Official visits and home-stays between the schools’ bands and the CCHS Sci-Fi Club have been centerpieces in the rich history of the Concord-Nanae sister city relationship.  The Student News Exchange, as the project is tentatively titled, is intended to bring two more student organizations, the English Club and The Voice, more deeply into that framework. Continue reading “The Concord-Nanae Student News Exchange Begins”

Temporary Leave of Absence

I wrote this letter a couple weeks ago, but felt it prudent to post it here as well.   I am still on leave, and currently scheduled to return to Nanae on April 10th.

-Ben Mirin, CIR

Dear friends and family,

I will keep this brief.  First of all, I am writing to let you all know that I am safe and healthy.  Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern about my safety and wellbeing over the past couple weeks.

As of March 24th I will be taking a temporary leave of absence from my job in Nanae, Japan.  The current plan is to abscond to Hawaii on standby, with the intention to return to Japan on April 3rd.  If, however, the nuclear crisis in Fukushima remains as nebulous as it is right now, I will likely extend my stay and will consider returning to Concord to continue my work as Coordinator of International Relations from there in our American sister city.

Experiencing this terrible tragedy firsthand has been a life-changing experience.  I have grown as a journalist, a government employee, and most of all as a person, and have been awakened to the full depth of my appreciation and love for Nanae.  My heart remains with the Japanese people during this tense time, and I ardently hope that we will be reunited very soon.

I hope this message finds you well.



Official Communication: Nanae to Concord after the Earthquake

–Translated by Ben Mirin, CIR, and Emi Kimura, Assistant CIR–

March 17th, 2011

Nanae Town Office

Nanae-cho, Kameda-gun

Hokkaido, Japan 041-1192


Board of Selectmen’s Office

Concord, Massachusetts 01742


Dear Chairman Wieand and Friends in Concord,

We deeply thank you for your expressed concerns and warm messages following the earthquake.  We are glad to inform you that Nanae did not sustain any damage.  However, the Tohoku (northeastern) and Kanto (eastern) areas of Japan are suffering from this disaster.  The earthquake and the tsunami caused massive damage to their towns and many people have died or gone missing.

This was the biggest earthquake to hit Japan since the government started keeping records.  Not only did it leave mortal damage and scars, but it also made many people lose their homes and evacuate to shelters.  There are no words to express how these people are feeling now or how hard their lives have become.

We are grateful to the American government for sending teams to Japan so quickly.  We thank all of our friends in Concord and the American nation for their support.

Right now our government is working with full force for a fast recovery.  The Town of Nanae is going to contribute as much as we can in this regard.



Yasukazu Nakamiya

Mayor of Nanae

Apologies for this week

Dear followers of,
I apologize for not posting this week’s video, a short feature about the Japanese holiday of Setsubun. We went through the proper steps to obtain permission to shoot this film, but have received concerned questions from parents of students featured therein and are temporarily obligated to take it down.

I hope to bring you this and more posts about Nanae very soon. Thank you for your patience and continued interest in the content on