Japanese consul visits Arts Festival
Willard Dunham | For The LOG
On Saturday, Japanese Consul Koichi Funayama, right, helps paint a reduced version of the mural that will be painted in Seward’s sister city Obihiro.
Consul Koichi Funayama and Adam Weinert of the Consular Office of Japan in Anchorage, were the guests of the Seward Mural Society on Sunday at the Seward Arts and Music Festival. They came to Seward to view the latest project of the society, a reduced-size replica of the mural they will be painting in Obihiro, Japan next year. Consul Funayama met with members of the society and Master Artist Justine Pechusal who designed the Seward-Obihiro Friendship Mural. The artists look forward to this opportunity to further the 35-year sister-city relationship with Obihiro.
This was Consul Funayama’s first trip to Seward since his appointment to Alaska.
The artists wasted no time in handing a brush to the consul and his aide and had them working on the reduced version of the mural that was being painted at the festival. They enjoyed the experience so much they had to be prompted to stop painting so they could tour Seward and the other murals around the city. Consul Funayama and his office have been working together with the society on how best to get the items needed for the project to Japan and the protocols to be followed in the process. Artists Jennifer Headtke, Dot Bardarson and the designer had lots of questions for the consul and were able to discuss the project with him first-hand. A handful of Seward artists will be traveling to Japan next year to paint the mural that will be placed in front of the Obihiro Zoo when it is completed.
City Manager Jim Hunt met with the consul for lunch to talk about Seward, its ties to Japan and the business groups that send products there. Consul Funayama was very interested in the export facility run by Aurora Energy and the places that coal is shipped. He was surprised when informed that Chile was a bigger buyer of the resource than his country.