THEMES

On Tour!

The “Grand Tour of Switzerland in Japan” is not only a map, but also a road on which many events take place, offering a rich cultural and exchange program about Switzerland and Japan.

In 2019-2020, Ambassador of Switzerland to Japan Jean-François Paroz and the staff of the the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan will travel throughout the country to designated “stations”, which will take the form of special festivals, showcases, conferences or social gatherings promoting Switzerland, its culture, and highlighting its special link to Japan to the general Japanese population.

Upcoming events, as well as past events, will be progressively added to the map and to the website of the Embassy on the road to the Games. Check out this category regularly to find out when Switzerland will be coming to you next!

City Partnerships

Bilateral relations are often thought as matters of states, diplomats, or trade. Yet, these forces alone would not suffice if it were not for another crucial factor: people-to-people relations. The success and strength of the relationships between two countries also depend on the degree of friendship, understanding and collaboration that exist between their regions and populations. Citizen initiatives thus are invaluable, and their most widespread manifestation are mostly certainly cities partnerships.

Whether dubbed “sister cities agreement”, “friendship charter”, or “twinning”, such partnerships all express the same idea: the establishment of direct and continuous relations between two governments at the local level. Sister cities have traditionally exchanged information on various matters of common interest (e.g. culture, tourism, revitalization, or urbanism); organized meetings, youth exchanges, and long-term projects; and cultivated friendships between their citizens.

As of 2019, there currently close to 20 of such agreements and friendship charter between Swiss and Japanese towns and regions. As you are about to find out, some are fairly recent, while others have existed for more than 50 years! The Embassy of Switzerland highly values every single one of them, and is committed to support any local or regional initiative that helps bringing Swiss and Japanese people closer than what they already are.

2020 Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are among the most anticipated Olympics in modern times. The whole world knows that Japan excels at organizing international events of such magnitude, many Japanese people look forward to such a highly symbolic and federative project, and the Summer Games has even been defined as a horizon for many public policies. The competition has become a historic episode of 21st century Japan before it even took place.

As it has been for the past 150 years, Japan will be a great focus for Switzerland in 2020. The House of Switzerland, which will be implanted in Tokyo to celebrate the performances of Swiss athletes, promote Swiss industries, culture, and technologies, and help building further connections between Swiss and Japanese people, is the priority of Presence Switzerland, the country’s official public diplomacy agency.

Beyond the competition itself, however, the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan is also actively involved in the Japanese government’s 2016 “Host Town Initiative”: pre-Games training camps, showcases, lectures, workshops and festivals about Switzerland will be organized in several Japanese cities before and during 2020, providing Swiss athletes and Japanese locals with unique opportunities to meet, exchange and create new ties. Host Towns will be a chance for Swiss people to display their commitment to Japan beyond the busy summer of 2020, as these partnerships were established in consideration of long-term prospects and benefits. Moreover, as the world’s attention is increasingly focused on Tokyo, Host Towns are an opportunity to promote regions and municipalities - units which federalist Switzerland values for their initiatives and dynamism.

The House of Switzerland and Host Towns will therefore also be “stations” of the Grand Tour of Switzerland in Japan, and as such, they will host special events on the road to the Olympic Games. The Ambassador of Switzerland to Japan is looking forward to meeting you there to celebrate the Swiss-Japanese friendship!

Historical Figures & Locations

In 2014, Switzerland and Japan commemorated the 150th anniversary of their bilateral relations. In this category, you will find a curated selection of a few pioneers and landmarks whose stories help better understand the various ties established by the Swiss community in Japan with their hosts since as early as 1864. From the journey of Aimé Humbert-Droz to the uniform patch of the Tokyo Rescue Fire Department, you are in for ride!

Clubs & Associations

The vast majority of interactions between Swiss and Japanese people are not official, but informal! And it turns out that there are clubs and associations dedicated for that purpose at several levels: city, region, or Japan as a whole! Beyond simple meeting places for the Swiss community in Japan, these groups strive to make Japan and Switzerland meet at the people-to-people level, and share fun stories and experiences. A Swiss or Japanese nationality has never been a mandatory requisite to join any of these clubs, and anyone with enough curiosity and enthusiasm will be welcome. Have a look at the map and find the right match for you!

Architecture & Design

In spite of its size, Switzerland is one of the world’s most fertile breeding ground for architects and designers. Known around the world for their minimalistic and functionalistic approach as well as for their attention to detail, Swiss architects and designers have successfully combined the necessities of an industrializing society with the country’s mid-19th century-old lithographical tradition. Nowadays, some prominent critics even use the term “Swiss” as a synonym for “good design”!

Thanks to architects Le Corbusier, Mario Botta, and Herzog & de Meuron, as well as to designers at Swatch, USM or Freitag, some buildings and products bring a “Swiss touch” to our daily lives. Some of these game-changers studied at Switzerland’s three major design schools (the Geneva University of Art and Design; the Zurich University of the Arts; and the University of Art and Design, Lausanne), and every day they succeed in reinventing the image of the country that some still associate to chocolate and mountains!

And believe it or not, but it so happens that all the names you will find in this category have been extensively present in Tokyo and Japan for the past decades! The Grand Tour of Switzerland in Japan is therefore proud to (re)introduce you to a certain Swiss way of thinking in the Japanese archipelago. Conversely, recent years have also seen the development of a series of groundbreaking and spectacular new projects designed by Japanese architects on Swiss soil. With talents such as Shigeru Ban to Kengo Kuma, SANAA, or Riken Yamamoto shaping the Swiss visual landscape, both countries are now mutually benefitting from each other’s flair.

Train & Transportation

All aboard! Switzerland’s system of railways, long-distance buses, lake boats and local transport is regarded as among the best in the world. Foreign visitors and Swiss citizens love using public transport, and can quite easily manage to live without car in a town, unlike in some other countries. Not only is this convenient, but also very good for the environment and definitely worth the view!

With 71,520 km-long road network, 5,200 km of railway lines, a 21,529 km public transport network and over 28,000 stops nationwide (one stop every 900 meters), it is indeed quite easy to get around. In consequence, despite 4.5 million registered cars in the country, the Swiss travel further by train than any other nation in Europe, clocking up an average of 2,400 km per person every year. Tourists are also especially fond of the 1,000 km of mountain railway going through the Swiss Alps, leading to iconic alpine stations such as the Jungfraujoch in the canton of Bern - the highest railway station in Europe (3,454 meters). Finally, Switzerland has around 1,800 tunnels, including the 57 km-long Gotthard Base Tunnel – the longest in the world.  Every day, 325 trains travel it at speeds of up to 250 km/h!

Unsurprisingly, Switzerland and Japan’s transportation systems have highly similar features: Both are extremely punctual, have a strong online accessibility, offer solutions for disabled persons, take the environment into account, and rely on extensive networks of trains, buses and boats. There also exist multitudes of private clubs organizing friendly regattas and races among Swiss and Japanese people alike. Have a look at the map of the Grand Tour of Switzerland in Japan, and see for yourself. Bon voyage!

Education and research

Bilateral relations are often thought as matters of states, diplomats, or trade. Yet, these forces alone would not suffice if it were not for another crucial factor: people-to-people relations. The success and strength of the relationships between two countries also depend on the degree of friendship, understanding and collaboration that exist between their regions and populations. Citizen initiatives thus are invaluable, and their most widespread manifestation are mostly certainly cities partnerships.

Whether dubbed “sister cities agreement”, “friendship charter”, or “twinning”, such partnerships all express the same idea: the establishment of direct and continuous relations between two governments at the local level. Sister cities have traditionally exchanged information on various matters of common interest (e.g. culture, tourism, revitalization, or urbanism); organized meetings, youth exchanges, and long-term projects; and cultivated friendships between their citizens.

As of 2019, there currently close to 20 of such agreements and friendship charter between Swiss and Japanese towns and regions. As you are about to find out, some are fairly recent, while others have existed for more than 50 years! The Embassy of Switzerland highly values every single one of them, and is committed to support any local or regional initiative that helps bringing Swiss and Japanese people closer than what they already are.

Miscellaneous

Bilateral relations are often thought as matters of states, diplomats, or trade. Yet, these forces alone would not suffice if it were not for another crucial factor: people-to-people relations. The success and strength of the relationships between two countries also depend on the degree of friendship, understanding and collaboration that exist between their regions and populations. Citizen initiatives thus are invaluable, and their most widespread manifestation are mostly certainly cities partnerships.

Whether dubbed “sister cities agreement”, “friendship charter”, or “twinning”, such partnerships all express the same idea: the establishment of direct and continuous relations between two governments at the local level. Sister cities have traditionally exchanged information on various matters of common interest (e.g. culture, tourism, revitalization, or urbanism); organized meetings, youth exchanges, and long-term projects; and cultivated friendships between their citizens.

As of 2019, there currently close to 20 of such agreements and friendship charter between Swiss and Japanese towns and regions. As you are about to find out, some are fairly recent, while others have existed for more than 50 years! The Embassy of Switzerland highly values every single one of them, and is committed to support any local or regional initiative that helps bringing Swiss and Japanese people closer than what they already are.

  • On Tour!

    The “Grand Tour of Switzerland in Japan” is not only a map, but also a road on which many events take place, offering a rich cultural and exchange program about Switzerland and Japan.In 2019-2020, Ambassador of Switzerland to Japan Jean-François Paroz and the staff of the the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan will travel throughout the country to designated “stations”...Read More

  • City Partnerships

    Bilateral relations are often thought as matters of states, diplomats, or trade. Yet, these forces alone would not suffice if it were not for another crucial factor: people-to-people relations. The success and strength of the relationships between two countries also depend on the degree of friendship, understanding and collaboration that exist between their regions and ...Read More

  • 2020 Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics

    The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are among the most anticipated Olympics in modern times. The whole world knows that Japan excels at organizing international events of such magnitude, many Japanese people look forward to such a highly symbolic and federative project, and the Summer Games has even been defined as a horizon for many...Read More

  • Historical Figures & Locations

    In 2014, Switzerland and Japan commemorated the 150th anniversary of their bilateral relations. In this category, you will find a curated selection of a few pioneers and landmarks whose stories help better understand the various ties established by the Swiss community in Japan with their hosts since as early as 1864. From the journey of Aimé Humbert-Droz to the...Read More

  • Clubs & Associations

    The vast majority of interactions between Swiss and Japanese people are not official, but informal! And it turns out that there are clubs and associations dedicated for that purpose at several levels: city, region, or Japan as a whole! Beyond simple meeting places for the Swiss community in Japan, these groups strive to make Japan and Switzerland meet at...Read More

  • Architecture & Design

    In spite of its size, Switzerland is one of the world’s most fertile breeding ground for architects and designers. Known around the world for their minimalistic and functionalistic approach as well as for their attention to detail, Swiss architects and designers have successfully combined the necessities of an industrializing society with the country’s...Read More

  • Train & Transportation

    All aboard! Switzerland’s system of railways, long-distance buses, lake boats and local transport is regarded as among the best in the world. Foreign visitors and Swiss citizens love using public transport, and can quite easily manage to live without car in a town, unlike in some other countries. Not only is this convenient, but also very good for the environment...Read More