Thirty-seven Hamurodai High School students from Rotorua's Japanese sister city of Beppu are to be officially welcomed to the city by Mayor Steve Chadwick.

Mrs Chadwick will host an afternoon tea reception for the group at the council Civic Centre at 1pm on Thursday.

Mrs Chadwick said there was a long-standing tradition of school exchanges between Beppu and Rotorua and she was looking forward to welcoming the students.

"Annual exchanges between young people of our two communities are a foundation of our sister city relationship.

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"Sharing our cultures and our customs with people from other countries open our students' eyes to the global village we live in.

"I'm also pleased to be able to return some of the wonderful hospitality I received from the people of Beppu during my recent brief visit to Japan."

A 'sister school' agreement was signed in Rotorua in 2001 between Beppu's Hamurodai High School and Western Heights High School, with annual student exchange tours becoming a regular feature of the two schools' links.

Hamurodai High School is one of Beppu's academic prefectural high schools and was founded in 1982. It is on the top of a hill overlooking Beppu City and the ocean.

Beppu is in the Oita Prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu and, like Rotorua, is known worldwide for its many hot springs and geothermal attractions.

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