Twinned Since: 1991 but first link made in 1987 when Japanese excavating company, Komatsu Ltd, opened a factory in Birtley. Komatsu Ltd is a global construction equipment company. Website: www.komatsu.co.uk
Location & Geography: Komatsu is on the Honshu, the central island of Japan, some 303.22km north west of Tokyo. Komatsu is located between the East Sea and the Hakusan Mountains (White Mountains). Komatsu stands at the foot of a plain which is characterised by pine forests and rice and vegetable fields. The river Kakehashi runs through the plains to the coast.
Economics: Like much of Japan there is a great deal of high-tech industry in Komatsu including the Awazu Plant of the Komatsu Company which is a major employer in the area. Komatsu is home to the regional airport for Ishikawa prefecture.
Mayor: The Mayor of Komatsu is Mr Shinji Wada.
Symbol: The symbol of Komatsu is a pine-tree. The name 'Komatsu' means 'little pine'. The area was named about 1000 years ago when the then Emperor Kazan to Komatsu where he built a villa and planted many pine trees.
Local Cuisine: Fish and rice are the main basic foods in Japan and Komatsu, due to its coastal location, offers an abundance of fish dishes. Noodles, known as udon, are also a favourite as is the local sake (rice wine) made from the waters of Mount Hakusan.
Culture: Komatsu is steeped in the traditional culture of Japan. Festivals such as Don Don (drum festival) and 230-year-old Kabuki Children’s Festival are highlights of the Komatsu year. The area is also renowned for its excellent Kutani pottery and local craft products.