The Sister City Affiliation of Mountain View started in 1974 to foster international understanding amongst the citizens and organizations of Iwata, Japan and Mountain View. In 1988, the Affiliation adopted Hasselt, Belgium as its second Sister City. Throughout the year, the program holds meetings and events and hosts a Student Exchange program focused on the sharing of information, ideas, culture, economic and social relations.
Established as a settlement during the 700s A.D., Iwata, Japan is located on Japan's eastern shore about three hours south of Tokyo. When Mountain View and Iwata partnered as Sister Cities in 1974, they bonded over the agricultural economy of their respective regions. While Mountain View's economy now focuses on technological industry, Iwata remains largely agricultural and is known around the world for the production of a delightful muskmelon grown in the area's hothouses year-round. Iwata is also home to Yamaha Corporation's Headquarters and a Suzuki manufacturing plant. Nearly 180,000 people reside in Iwata and enjoy beautiful parks, annual heritage festivals and outdoor entertainment, including rugby and soccer.
Located on the Helbeek River in north-eastern Belgium, Hasselt is a lively university town of approximately 71,000 residents. Founded in the 7th century, the City's rich history, friendly people and charming old world European architecture make it a fantastic sister-city for Mountain View. Hasselt is regionally renowned for its museums, festivals, cultural events, and attractions. Downtown Hasselt is similar to Downtown Mountain View and offers a variety of retail and dining options to residents and visitors. Interestingly, one of the most visited local attractions is Hasselt’s Japanese Tea Garden built in the 1970’s through a partnership with a Japanese city. In the spring, cherry blossoms bloom throughout the park and in the fall, the maple trees transform to show off vibrant red foliage.