U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty (58) made his first visit to Kanazawa and stayed in an inn that is a refurbished Kanazawa Machiya style building in the Chayagai district. “I was lucky to bring my wife and two of my children along,” he said. He is a Japan-hand as he has worked in Japan for three years. During his interview with the Hokkoku Shimbun, he emphasized the power of local cities’ culture and noted that “Kanazawa could attract many more young people.”
“The snow here is incredibly beautiful.,” he said. “No snow elsewhere can compare. I will never forget this scenery.” Kenrokuen garden right after the heavy snow eased made a strong impression on the U.S. envoy to Japan.
“Kanazawa’s culture is undoubtedly deep and powerful,” said Ambassador Hagerty, who has long immersed himself in the world of business as a consultant among other things. He firmly believes that Kanazawa can make use of its history and culture. “Tourism obviously holds greater potential for Kanazawa and the Hokuriku Shinkansen will serve as infrastructure for helping the city achieve sustainable growth,” he said.
In Ambassador Hagerty’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, there are cherry blossom trees associated with Jokichi Takamine, an internationally renowned chemist born in Kanazawa. Daisetz Suzuki, who introduced “zen” to the U.S., also hails from Kanazawa. Ambassador Hagerty believes that the power of Kanazawa’s culture and its convenient access via the Shinkansen will surely help the city attract more U.S. visitors.
“I have seen at firsthand several local communities undergoing a renaissance by focusing on their unique culture,” he said.
He emphasized that Kanazawa’s history and culture will attract more young people if these elements are made more widely known to people outside the city. Universities will be able to play a bigger role in this respect. “I would like to facilitate student exchange between the U.S. and the Kanazawa region,” he said. That was an assuring message for Kanazawa, home to many tertiary educational institutes.
His youngest daughter Christine celebrated her ninth birthday on this day. He said she was happy to eat soft serve sprinkled with gold leaf at Kenrokuen. During the interview, he told us that his wife Chrissy and their two daughters went shopping to buy gold leaf products at a souvenir shop. “Gold leaf could become a popular export item from Kanazawa,” he said. He spoke of the example of culture spawning business and rejuvenating the local economy.
Prior to the interview, Ambassador Hagerty visited the offices of the Ishikawa prefectural government and Kanazawa municipal government and met with Vice Governor Yoshiaki Nakanishi and Mayor Yukiyoshi Yamano, respectively.