Information on this page has been provided by the Kanonji-American Partnership.
The Kanonji-Appleton Partnership was founded in 1988 to teach Appleton residents about the Japanese culture and language. The partnership is a volunteer-led, non-profit group.
The partnership was formed with help from the late Mako Bice, a restaurateur in Appleton and mother of two sons who graduated from Appleton East High School. Mako and her husband Burt owned the former Mako's Japanese restaurant (now Far East Korean and Japanese) on the corner of Oneida Street and Fremont Street.
Since the partnership began, mayors of both Kanonji and Appleton have traveled to each other's cities. Mayor Hanna has made three trips to Kanonji.
Until 1998 exchanges were mostly adults. Mayors from both cities, some physicians, lawyers, business professionals and teachers. In 1998 the Appleton Boychoir was invited to Kanonji to sing. In 1999 a group of students from Kanonji arrived in Appleton during the summer to stay with members of the Appleton Boychoir and other families in host homes.
Since then with a few exceptions Appleton and Fox Cities students have traveled to Kanonji each July for two-weeks. Those students then return with students from Kanonji for a two-week stay with host families here, made up of those travelers from Appleton and other volunteer families.
The group typically takes in a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers baseball game, visits the Mayor and schools in Appleton. Recently trips have taken the group to Baraboo to learn about the International Crane Foundation and of course Circus World Museum.
Families have taken their guests to family cottages, Chicago, Minneapolis, the Oneida Nation pow-wow, Art at the Park, the Downtown Appleton Farmer's Market, the Fox River Mall and more. Exchange students have also visited Madison and all over the state of Wisconsin.
Those looking to make an exchange trip meet monthly from December through early July, prior to the trip.The group has recently begun offering weekly Japanese language lessons with volunteer students from Lawrence University to help prepare visitors.
Prospective travelers must have completed the 8th grade and be students in good standing academically.