Wales

Conwy and Himeji castles' twinning starts 'beautiful friendship'

Himeji Castle, in the Kansai region, provided the backdrop for scenes from 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice Image copyright NORIYOSHI KANDA
Image caption Himeji Castle, in Japan's Kansai region, was in 1967 Bond movie You Only Live Twice

The twinning of a Japanese and a Welsh castle has heralded "the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

The pairing of Conwy and Himeji castles is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

Himeji mayor Hideyasu Kiyomoto has now visited the Welsh castle, after a ceremony in Japan during the Rugby World Cup.

Following the tour he was was taken to see Conwy's Quay House, said to be the smallest house in Britain.

Mr Kiyomoto said: "This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship and I am going to tell all of the citizens of Himeji what a beautiful place Wales is, and about its proud history.

"After I go back I am going to explain what a fantastic castle you have here in Conwy and then many tourists from Japan will get to know that Wales is a such a nice and great country. I love it here.

"Japanese people love their history and want to know much more about Wales."

A ceremony in Himeji coincided with Japan hosting the Rugby World Cup.

Image copyright RICK MATTHEWS/CEIDIOG PR
Image caption Himeji's mayor Hideyasu Kiyomoto takes selfie with Conwy mayor Goronwy Edwards in front of Conwy castle

Conwy mayor Goronwy Edwards attended.

He said: "They had really gone to town with the arrangement."

Building work on the castles started within 50 years of each other.

Norman king, Edward I, made a start on Conwy Castle in 1283 while the construction of Himeji Castle began in 1333.

North Wales Tourism managing director, Jim Jones, said the twinning would attract Japanese tourists.

Mr Jones said: "What we have done is very unique and obviously the legacy of the twinning will continue and work will start in earnest.

"It's an exciting time for both Conwy and Himeji."

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