Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe reached Ahmedabad on Wednesday evening. The Japanese prime minister and his wife Akie Abe were given a ceremonial welcome at the Ahmedabad airport, after which they set off on an 8 km-long road show up to Sabarmati Ashram.

Banners in the Japanese Hiragana script saying, “Welcome to the only home of Asiatic Lions” and “New India, Bright Future” welcomed them. Several artistes from various states have been invited to perform on 25 stages set up along the stretch through which the roadshow, called the India Cultural Road Show, will pass.

After the roadshow, Abe and Modi are expected to tour the Sabarmati Ashram and 16th-century Sidi Sayyed Ni Jaali mosque. The Ellis Bridge has also been decorated for the occasion, where the two leaders will take a walk after their dinner.

Abe’s two-day visit is an effort to cement ties between India and Japan. The two prime ministers are expected to lay the foundation stone for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on Thursday. The two nations had signed a deal for India’s first bullet train in 2015.

After laying the foundation stone, Abe and Modi will attend the India-Japan Annual Summit at the Mahatma Mandir.

Security was increased in Ahmedabad ahead of Abe’s visit. More than 9,000 police officers have been stationed in the city, and 2,000 others have been deployed in Gandhinagar, where the two leaders will be on Thursday.