Omihachiman Committee

The Omihachiman Committee plays a central role in connecting West Michigan with Japan.

We are proud of our history as Grand Rapids’ first sister city committee. Since our establishment in 1986, our committee has provided a crucial service to our community by overseeing person-to-person exchanges, providing educational presentations on Japanese language and culture, offering translation services and strategic counsel to local businesses and nonprofits, and more.

This work is made possible by the tireless efforts of our volunteer committee members, who share a passion for advancing U.S.-Japan ties by cultivating friendship between Grand Rapids and Omihachiman. Our committee meets the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Schuler Books on 28th Street SE.

Our committee includes:

  • Ken Marotte ​ (chair)​
  • Mayumi Balfour
  • Anette Baron
  • Don Bultman
  • Dr. Naoki Kanaboshi
  • Sara Simon
  • Connie Udell


To receive updates on J-Chat dates and topics, or if you are interested in partaking in our exchanges either as delegate or host, please reach out to us at grsci.omi [at] gmail [dot] com.