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Worldly Relations: From Ireland to Japan

Travel with us to two more of Phoenix’s sister cities on opposite ends of the world.

By Madeline Johnson and Rachel Kupfer

In 1972, Phoenix joined the national Sister City movement in an effort to connect culturally and diplomatically with other municipalities around the world. Continue with us on a journey outside our own city limits, as we explore these far-flung locales two at a time in search of home design with global flair.

Ennis, Ireland

Sister City since 1988

Hundreds of years ago, Ennis, Ireland, was a thriving medieval market town on the west side of the country where Irish and European cultures fused together into one. Today, the area stays true to its roots with a rich showing of traditional music and customs.

Located in County Clare, picturesque, historic, Ennis takes its name from “Inis,” the Irish word for island.

Phoenix artisan Chase Warren puts a modern spin on classic materials and Irish inspiration with this dining chair’s brass details and leather back. $789 (

Just east of Ennis is the historic Bunratty Castle, built in 1425 on what was a Viking trading camp. Inside, you just may find something similar to the Toulouse Chandelier. 53″H by 20″ in diameter. $1,690 (

These lofty throws, made of hand-knit wool, call to mind Ireland’s traditional cable knit Aran sweaters, which kept island fishermen warm and dry. 60″L by 80″W. $415 (

To re-create the sounds of Fleadh Nua, Ennis’s annual traditional music festival, try a Feadóg Irish whistle, made in Ireland. $14 (

Himeji, Japan

Sister City since 1976

At the heart of this ancient Japanese city is Himeji Castle, a proud centerpiece that has withstood centuries of wear, weather and war. Nicknamed the “White Heron,” it reflects the large bird’s symbolic representation of determination while remaining majestic and strong.

Built in 1333, Himeji Castle is one of the Japan’s premium locations to enjoy the beautiful pink cherry blossoms, which burst into bloom in the spring.

Kumiko, a traditional Japanese woodworking style, was adapted by Valley artist John Eugster to delicately craft the basswood insert for this cherry wood box. 4.5″H by 14.5″L by 7.5″W. $350 (

The funky Blu Dot Splash Coat Rack is reminiscent of two pairs of giant chopsticks. 65″H by 20″ square. $329 (

In Japan, the cherry blossom’s two-week bloom season represents the brilliance and fragility of life. Honor the symbol with this ceramic vase, decorated with the tiny pink flowers. $97 (

Jasmine (Jasminum), a southeast Asian native plant, elegantly flows across the Divya cabinet in a motif crafted from water buffalo bone that matches Himeji Castle’s striking white hue. 31.5″H by 63.5″W by 18.5″D. $1,899 (

Phoenix ceramist C. Marcus McCarty uses bold glaze colors and classic shapes that reflect Japanese pottery, one of the country’s oldest art forms. Starting at $30. (


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