It’s been 162 years since Newport native Commodore Matthew C. Perry, USN,  negotiated the nation’s first trade treaty with Japan, opening up the Pacific island nation to Western commerce and ushering in a new era of global trade.

On Thursday, July 14th, Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano and the Newport City Council will join with dignitaries from Newport’s sister-city of Shimoda, Japan, for a public reception at the Gateway Center, at 23 America’s Cup Avenue from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and all are welcome.

The celebration will serve as a kick off to the 33rd annual Black Ships Festival.

This year, the city will play host to a nine-member contingent from Shimoda, in addition to four students who will visit Newport as part of an ongoing student exchange program between the two seaside communities.

Representatives include Mr. Seiji Takeuchi, Shimoda City Assembly Vice Chair; Ms. Naoko Mochizuki, Shimoda City Assembly Staff member; Mr. and Mrs. Mitsuo Noda, former Chairman of the Shimoda Education Committee; Mr. and Mrs. Shigeki Shinji, Secretary for the Shimoda Newport Club; Mr. Tadashi Sugimora and Mr. Akira Fuji, members of the ShimodaNewport Club;  and Mr. Shota Funato, a teacher who will be escorting four, 9th grade students from Shimoda: Ms. KotoneIwamoto, Mr. Yuki Morita, Mr. Makishi Koizumi, and Ms. Ami Suzumoto.

Newport was twinned with Shimoda, Japan on May 17, 1958 when Mayor Henry C. Wilkinson and Mayor Sadao Suzuki were in office. It is one of the oldest sister city relationships in New England. Shimoda is a city and port located in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan at the southern tip of the Izu peninsula about 60 miles southwest of Tokyo. Shimoda’s location, with the Amagi Mountains to the north, and the warm Kuroshio Current to the south give the city a humid, sub-tropical climate. Shimodacelebrated its 77th Black Ships Festival in May of this year.

While Commodore Perry was the person who successfully negotiated with Tokugawa Shogunate Government to sign the Treaty of Kanagawa (Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity) that allowed American’s to visit and land in the ports of Shimodaand Hakodate in 1854, the 13th Lord of Hikone was the one who agreed to sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1958 that allowed trade and commerce with the US.

The Sister City program was created by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Sister City programs are established between cities that are similar in size, have common features (all of Newport’s Sister Cities are seaside towns) and an interest in developing cultural, historic and economic relationships. Sister Cities provide opportunities for citizens to learn about, experience and explore other cultures through long-term community partnerships. For centuries, cities throughout the world have established informal relationships based upon common cultural, economic or historic ties. The relationships provide a forum for the exchange of perspectives and ideas of culture, education, government and economic development.

Newport has five other sister cities – Imperia, Italy, Kinsale, Ireland, Ponta Delgada, the Azores, Skiathos, Greece and St. John, New Brunswick Canada.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.