On January 26, 1978, a charter signed by Mayor Richard A. King and Mayor Retji Kumaki established a Sister City relationship between Iindependence and Higashimurayama. One month later the first adult visitors from Japan arrived in Independence for a home stay. In August 1980, Lana White led the first group of Independence citizens on a tour of Japan and home stay in Higashimurayama.
The first exchange of students from Higashimurayama arrived in Independence on July 29, 1979, for a two week home stay. Each year thereafter a student group with one or more adult leader has visited Independence.
The Independence student exchange to Higashimurayama began in the Spring of 1981 when a group of six students went to Higashimurayama. Each year since that date the Japanese Sister City Commission has sponsored an exchange of students with Higashimurayama. In addition, the two sister cities have sponsored adult exchanges including home stays.
Before the tour begins, students attend classes on Japanese language, food, culture and traditions in preparation for the home stay.