Ottery has been particularly fortunate in its choice of Twinning partners, Pont L’Eveque in France and Ilsfeld in Germany, in that the enthusiasm for the project is equally popular with the residents of each of the towns. Annual visits take place with a considerable number of exchange visits taking place on each occasion. The three attractive towns are of similar size and thus visitors feel ‘at home and amongst friends’ immediately they arrive.
A further bond has been created between Japan and Britain in that a ‘Friendship Agreement’ between Ottery and Otari (pronounced ‘Ottery’), a charming village in the Japanese Alps where the Winter Olympics took place in 2006. Visitors call from Otari at time to time and several Ottregians have also made the journey to Japan.
Ottery St Mary is also the final home and final resting place of Sir Ernest Satow, a prominent
British diplomat who played a very significant part in bringing Japan out of years of isolation into the modern World at the end of the nineteenth century.
Sir Ernest is venerated in Japan where they have created a museum in Yokohama in his memory. Upon retirement in Ottery, Sir Ernest could be seen in the town accompanied by his Japanese servant. He was a prominent member of the Town Council, and onetime Chairman, living in Beaumont House in Ridgeway. He was later buried in the grounds of the Church of St Mary.
Lasting mementos of our Japanese connection can be seen in the form of a traditional Japanese Bell, gifted by the people of Otari, and housed in Sainsburys car park in Hind St. Whilst a plaque relevant to Sir Ernest Satow is displayed on the wall of the Parish Church and his grave can be seen at the eastern end of the churchyard.