May 15, 2000
Vice Chairman Kirsten Molbak (center) with Governor Toshitami Kaihara (right) and a member of his delegation.
Staff photo by Bronwyn Wilson.
by Bronwyn Wilson
The Governor of Hyogo Prefecture, Washington's sister-state in Japan, had one request in addition to the scheduled meetings he had with Governor Locke and with Boeing last week.
Governor Toshitami Kaihara requested to tour Molbak's in Woodinville, which is known among the nursery trade in Japan for its progressiveness and excellence. While walking the grounds at Molbak's, the Governor and his delegation hoped to gather ideas to help them in creating a major garden center in the city of Takarazuka.
On Wednesday, May 10, Governor Kaihara, along with his assembly, were welcomed by Molbak's president Kern Gillette and Vice Chairman Kirsten Molbak and given a guided tour through the lush botanical retail operations and greenhouses.
"Molbak's has always been forward-thinking, and we're always thinking of international relationships," Kirsten Molbak said. As a gesture of goodwill, Vice Chairman Molbak presented the Governor with Washington's state flower, a rhododendron, and a symbol of the state bird, a goldfinch.
Meg VanSchoorl of the State Dept. of Agriculture accompanied the tour and said that the Governor and his delegation of commerce and assembly groups seemed impressed with Molbak's.
"The home garden center is still in its infancy in Japan," said VanSchoorl. "The overall scale of Molbak's was the impression for most of the legislators. There's nothing like it in Japan."
Prior to visiting Molbak's, Governor Kaihara scheduled separate visits with Governor Locke and Boeing in hopes of strengthening business and cultural ties between Washington and Hyogo Prefecture. The two states have been sister-states since 1963.
Governor Kaihara signed two initiatives with Governor Locke on Tuesday, May 9. The first initiative is an agreement for cooperation on disaster management, whereby states will share policies and programs, information, research, and training related to the handling of natural disasters--especially those that both states face, such as earthquakes, floods, and landslides. The second initiative creates an understanding between Washington and Hyogo to start up business promotions.
Vice Chairman Kirsten Molbak was struck by the following quote by Governor Kaihara and mentioned that it reflected Molbak's philosophy, too:
"Ever since ancient times, people have lived and developed their cultural wealth to be inclusive of contact with Nature. Confronted with an ever-growing number of environmental problems on a global scale, we now see a shift in people's values to encompass the enrichment and restoration of our humanity. We believe that the time has never been more right for reviewing and rebuilding our way of life and to recreate a society able to coexist with Nature on equal terms." -- Excerpts from Governor Kaihara's remarks regarding the foundation of a new school, the Awaji Landscape Planning & Horticulture Academy in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.