Seattle totem pole laid to rest in Kobe, Japan

KOBE, Japan -- A Northwest totem pole given to Kobe by the City of Seattle stood proudly on the grounds of Kobe City Hall for decades. 

But time took its toll.  The 53-year-old pole began rotting and was considered a safety hazard. Grounds crews had to prop the pole up during typhoon season so it wouldn't fall on anyone.

In 2015, the City of Kobe decided to move the pole to the Kobe Municipal Arboretum and lay it down to rest in the "Seattle Forest" section, filled with plants from the Northwest. 

The city learned of the tradition from the Lummi tribe, where carver Joe Hillaire was a member.

Now in peaceful repose surrounded by Northwest greenery, the pole continues to symbolize the friendship between the cities, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.  Seattle Sister City members plan to visit Kobe in May, and Kobe Sister City members will visit Seattle in July.

"May the face of the sun stay forever clear and the sea small. May the light shine everlastingly on the friendship between Kobe and Seattle," Joe Hillaire wrote in October 1961.

Copyright 2017 KING


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