Shimukappu (占冠村 Shimukappu-mura) is nestled in beautiful mountains, with rivers and lakes nearby, in the middle of Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. It is part of a township, including other villages, one of which is Tomamu, an international ski resort. The population of the township, as of 2016 was approximately 1,251. Shimukappu is known for the following things; its mountain vegetables that are grown locally in the mountains in the summer, the brilliant reds and yellows of the maple leaves in the fall, deep snow in the winter, and beautiful wildflowers in the spring. Adventure activities abound in all seasons, as well.
Aspen and Shimukappu became Sister Cities in the Spring of 1991, with official signings in both cities. In 1988, prior to becoming an official sister city, the Mayor at the time, Mayor Kanon, set up a small student exchange with Aspen. On a trial basis, a group of five 12-13 year olds and two chaperones visited each others cities every other year for five years, on a 10 day educational and cultural exchange. After becoming Sister Cities, this program has continued to flourish, and is now a yearly exchange, which continues to foster lifelong relationships and build cultural bridges. Another unique program that Aspen and Shimukappu have shared since March of 1991, is an English teacher position.