The winner of the 2018 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest visited Toyama Prefecture!

Originally written for the Vol.12-No.3 edition (October 9, 2018) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The Toyama Cup is a Japanese speech contest held every year in Portland in cooperation with JASO (the Japan-America Society of Oregon) to recognize the fruits of Oregon students’ Japanese studies. It first began in 1996, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Toyama and Oregon. Jack Glenn from Willamette University won the Grand Prize for this year’s 22nd Toyama Cup, held on April 22nd. His prize included a week-long trip to Toyama where he visited the many sites that make our beautiful prefecture famous.


Jack’s stay in Toyama lasted from July 22nd to July 29th and he visited the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, the Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design, as well as the Historic Villages of Gokayama World Heritage Site.

Courtesy Call

On July 23rd, Jack visited the Prefectural Government Office and paid a courtesy visit to Mr. Kurahori, Director-General of the General Policy Bureau. We hope that he will use his experience here in Toyama to become a bridge between Toyama and Oregon, as well as between Japan and the United States. As a symbol of this hope, Director-General Kurahori conferred Jack the title of “Toyama Honorary Friendly Envoy.”

Kurobe Dam

After his stay in Toyama, Jack said that he would never forget the spectacular scenery of the Tateyama mountain range and the Kurobe Dam, and that the Toyama Bay Sushi was the best tasting seafood he had ever had in his life. According to him, Toyama has many experiences that simply cannot be had in Tokyo or Osaka, and since it is packed with all of the things that make Japan great, everyone should visit Toyama at least once in their lifetime.

Gokayama Washi

We hope that Jack’s experience will drive exchange between Toyama and Oregon, and we look forward to welcoming the next speech contest winner!

For more information, please visit

Photo Source: Toyama Speech Contest Winners


The 2018 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest

Originally written for the Vol.12-No.2 edition (June 18, 2018) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The Toyama Cup is a Japanese speech contest held every year in Portland in cooperation with JASO (the Japan-America Society of Oregon) to recognize the fruits of Oregon students’ Japanese studies. It first began in 1996, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Toyama and Oregon. Jack Glenn from Willamette University won the Grand Prize for this year’s 22nd Toyama Cup, held on April 22nd. His prize includes a week-long trip to Toyama where he will visit the many sites that make our beautiful prefecture famous. Jack will be coming in July, and join the many other Grand Prize winners who have made the trip from Oregon to Toyama over the years, continuing to build the bridge of friendship between our two regions. We look for new participants every year so if you happen to know someone who would be interested, encourage them to apply next year! For more information, please visit the JASO website here.

The Theatre Olympics and the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club Congress are coming to Toyama!

Originally written for the Vol.12-No.2 edition (June 18, 2018) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

2019 will be a big year for Toyama on the international stage. Toyama Prefecture will host the 9th Theatre Olympics from August 23rd to September 23rd 2019. The Theatre Olympics is an international fair of theatre arts, established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, by Suzuki Tadashi, Theodoros Terzopoulos, and other world renowned directors and playwrights. In addition to showcasing the world’s highest level of performing arts, the Theatre Olympics also conducts workshops, symposiums, and educational programs. World famous theatre director Suzuki Tadashi will be the artistic director for this 9th edition.


Three main venues have been selected for the Theatre Olympics: the Toga Art Park of Toyama Prefecture in Nanto City, and the Unazuki International Hall “Selene” and Maezawa Garden Amphitheater, both in Kurobe City. The open air theaters surrounded by a lush natural environment are an ideal way to appreciate both art and Toyama Prefecture’s beautiful mountains.


Speaking of nature, and beauty, Toyama Bay was selected in April as the host for the 2019 Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club Congress. Toyama’s environmental efforts, natural beauty, and rich culture were highly praised by the assembly during this year’s congress in La Baule, France. The Congress will be held in Japan for the first time from October 16th to October 20th 2019 at the Toyama International Conference Center. The program has not been released yet but I am sure it will be packed with excursions to show to the best of Toyama Prefecture to the delegates coming from all around the world.


Toyama will be in the spotlight in 2019, and Toyama Hot News will keep you updated!


Photo Source: Toyama Just Now 857

Firefly Squid! Late night adventures in Toyama Bay

The firefly squid (hotaruika in Japanese) are one of the more famous parts of Toyama Bay. One can barely escape the posters with cobalt blue lines during a visit to Namerikawa City. Being able to see the real thing, however, is an entirely different problem. The firefly squid stay deep in the bay during the day, and only rise up at night, throwing themselves onto the shore between March and June. This means that trying to catch a glimpse of the creatures may lead to sleepless nights waiting for small lights on a beach.

Fortunately, the city of Namerikawa organizes tours where tourists can go out at sea in a pleasure boat and watch the fishermen as they collect the firefly squid from the fixed fishing nets, a traditional way of fishing in the region with a history of over 400 years. 2 other CIRs and I embarked in our section manager’s car at 1:30 am to participate in this tour and see the firefly squid with our own eyes.


After a quick information session in the Hotaruika Museum shop, where many souvenirs and foods are sold during the day, we walked out to the fishing port at 3 am for a ride on the pleasure boat. It was a chilly March night, but everyone aboard the boat was excited, from kids to grandparents, and everyone in between.

We arrived in front of the first fixed net system just in time to see the boat’s crew start reeling it in. The boat floats sideways into the net as the fishermen pull it and move the catch towards the edge, where another boat waits. Once the two boats are close enough, the fishermen use hand nets to scoop the firefly squid out of the fixed net system, all while leaving bycatch in. The tour goes by two fixed nets before bringing the tourists back to shore.

We only caught a peek at the light at the first net, but the second net is where the magic came to life. The glowing squid were creating a line around the net, and everyone was excited to catch glimpses of the blue light. For around twenty minutes, we watched the fishermen gather the squid with hand nets before placing them in boxes. The unmistakable bright blue of a few squid seemingly flying in the air was an amazing spectacle. One man threw a few squid towards us, which the children gleefully caught and started playing with. One even got some ink on his fingers before he threw it back out to sea.


The season is still early, and so far there haven’t been many firefly squid rising up to the surface, but that may mean the bulk will come later! I’m very glad I was given the chance to see this natural phenomenon first hand, and hopefully I’ll get to see it again!

These last few months in Toyama

In October 2017, the state of Oregon held a trade mission to Asia, led by Governor Kate Brown and Alexis Taylor, director of the Department of Agriculture. The trade mission’s objectives were to create and maintain precious relationships across the Pacific Ocean. During this trade mission, a “Friends of Oregon Reception” was held in Tokyo on October 11th. As Oregon’s sister-state for over 25 years, Toyama Prefecture sent Public Enterprise Administrator Hidetoshi Sunuma as well as International Affairs Division section manager Kawamura and myself to greet the Oregon mission.

Photo with the governor

Mr. Sunuma was able to have short discussions with Governor Brown, as well as Chris Harder, the director of Business Oregon, and Amanda Welker, Global Strategies Officer for Business Oregon. The reunion was warm and friendly, reflecting the relationship between the sister states. The reception featured food from Oregon, and all the participants received bottles of wine from a Willamette Valley vineyard.


During the reception, Mr. Sunuma had the opportunity to talk about the Toyama Museum of Art and Design that had opened on August 26th, 2017 in Toyama City, overlooking Kansui Park. Affectionately called TAD, the brand new museum features a world-class modern art collection with pieces from Picasso, Miró, and Toulouse-Lautrec,104006_05 as well as design collections, from posters to chairs. TAD is also home to the Onomatopoeia Rooftop, a collection of play equipment for children designed by Taku Satoh, inspired by the sounds used in onomatopoeias. The museum is an architectural marvel, and its wide glass windows give a panoramic view of the breathtaking Tateyama mountain range.


TAD’s first opening exhibit was called “LIFE-In search of paradise,” and explored the meaning of life in 8 chapters: Innocence, Love, Daily Life, Emotions & Ideas, Dreams, Death, Primitive, and Nature. This exhibit included powerful works from around the world, and my favorite was March of the Clowns by American artist Albert Bloch.


The second opening exhibit just came to a close and was called “Art and Design, dialogue with materials.” Focusing on art and design, this exhibit included a piece called COLOR OF TIME by French architect and designer Emmanuelle Moureaux, which became extremely popular on Instagram, with its hallway of colored digits. This event also coincided with the International Hokuriku Kogei (artisan crafts) Summit and showcased some of the works submitted to its Worlds Kogei 100 competition.


Kogei, which roughly corresponds to artisan crafts in Japanese, have always been a very important part of the history of Toyama. Takaoka Metalware and Inami Woodcarving are some of the more famous crafts in Toyama Prefecture, but one cannot forget Shogawa Woodturning, Ecchu Washi (traditional Japanese paper), and Takaoka Lacquerware. These time-honored traditional crafts and techniques are still alive and well, and the International Hokuriku Kogei Summit held in Toyama honored that sentiment.


On November 30th, 2017, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry designated Ecchu-Fukuoka Sedge Hats as a traditional craft. These hats were made in the area centered around Fukuoka, a town in what is now Takaoka City, starting in the 15th century, and were used all over the country by farmers seeking protection from rain and sunlight. Today, 80 people still create these sedge hats but most are in their 70s and 80s, worrying about the lack of apprentices who would be able to continue the tradition.



Kogei and the Ecchu-Fukuoka Sedge Hats still have a future. “This national designation as a traditional craft is not just a decoration,” asserts Ecchu-Fukuoka Sedge Hat Promotion Association Chairman Satoshi Takata. “It means that the country has endorsed this craft as deserving to thrive. I want us to use this opportunity to challenge ourselves to develop new products and find new markets. We will evolve, taking into account the times and the demand, while protecting the good things about traditional techniques.”


Finally, on a personal note, I was able to meet officials from Oregon for the first time during the trip to Tokyo for the Friends of Oregon Reception. I hope to one day visit the state, and I am looking forward to helping relations between Toyama and Oregon in the future!


Source (Reference Articles and Photos): Toyama Just Now (818, 838)



Oregon Delegation Visit to Toyama


On June 12th – June 14th, 2016, a delegation of 11 people representing the State of Oregon’s government and economic spheres visited Toyama Prefecture to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sister-state relationship. The delegation was led by Chris Harder, the director of Business Oregon, and also included Oregon Metro Council President Tom Hughes, as well as representatives from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Portland General Electric, the City of Beaverton Economic Development Division, and South Coast Development Council, Inc. The delegation’s visit included regional tours and meetings, with one of the highlights being a Sunday visit of Toyama’s famous Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, where deep fields of snow remain well into summer.

On Monday, June 13th, the delegation had a full day of meetings with Toyama businesses and government officials. In the morning, I accompanied the delegation on the way to business meetings, along with Ms. Sanno from the Toyama Prefecture International Affairs Division. The first item on the agenda was to visit Hokusei Products, a Takaoka City based company which deals in aluminum and other metals, and produces pharmaceutical packages and lifestyle products. Delegation members listened intently to a presentation on the company’s latest activities, the most exciting of which include the IMG_0377recent founding of Hokusei North America, which has been partnering with Business Oregon and the State of Oregon Japan Representative Office as they work to promote Oregon products in Japan and Toyama’s local products in Oregon and across the US. President & CEO Shotaro Tomita and Hokusei staff members gave an informative and well-prepared presentation in English, and also showed their local pride by playing a video promoting the city of Takaoka.

From Hokusei, the delegation went to Nousaku to check out their famous tin products and tour the workshop. While inspecting the facilities, delegation members were able to see how craftsmen and women work meticulously to create Nousaku’s fine caste metal wares. The back room, with its thousands of unique molds was a sight to be seen, and almost everyone left with something to take home from the showroom. The delegation also had a chance to meet with Mr. Nousaku himself, and hear a bit about how the company has innovated on traditional metal casting techniques to create modern, artful wind chimes and uniquely artistic baskets that have made it to markets in New York and Paris.

After a delicious lunch of Toyama Bay Sushi, the delegation visited Toyama City Hall, and then came to the Prefectural Office in order to make a courtesy call to Vice-Governor Satoshi Terabayashi. During the meeting, the vice-governor welcomed the delegation, and expressed his excitement that Toyama Prefecture and the State of Oregon had reached an important milestone of 25 years of friendship.

Later that evening, a reception was held in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Toyama-Oregon friendship. The delegation joined local representatives of Toyama’s business sector, along with Toyama government officials and JET Program assistant language teachers working in local schools who hail from Oregon for delicious food and good conversation. Toyama’s Public Enterprise Administrator, Mr. Hidetoshi Sunuma began the evening by speaking about his recent trip to Oregon this past April. There was also an address by Mr. Hisayashi Ono, president of the prefectural assembly, who mentioned Toyama’s recent role in hosting the G7 Environmental Ministers’ Meeting, and called for IMG_2699further partnership between Toyama and Oregon share as leaders in environmentally-conscious policy. Afterwards, Chris Harder introduced the Oregon delegation, and Metro
Council President Tom Hughes gave a toast. It was a lovely evening, which included delicious local food and sake, as well as lively discussion and a performance of a traditional performance, the Owara Kaze-no-Bon folk dance.

After a full day and a lovely evening that brought Toyama and Oregon even closer, the delegation went back to Tokyo the next morning on the new Hokuriku Shinkansen to continue their activities. As was mentioned during the celebration, Toyama-Oregon relations have seen 25 years of fruitful exchange; we here in Toyama are looking forward to 25 years more!





6月13日(月)は、県内企業視察や県政府への表敬訪問など、多くの行事が盛り込まれていました。県国際課の参納さんと私が訪問団に同行し、高岡市にあるアルミ製品・各種パッケージ・デザイン製品を扱うホクセイプロダクツ株式会社を訪問しました。訪問団は、Hokusei North Americaがオレゴン州政府駐日代表部と協力し、オレゴン州の商品を日本に輸入することや、富山の工芸品などをオレゴン州と米国でマーケット開拓を行う取り組みなど、ホクセイのアメリカでのビジネス展開についての発表を興味深く聞き入りました。代表取締役の冨田昇太郎氏やスタッフの英語での素晴らしいプレゼンテーションとともに、高岡市のPR動画も流し、地域に対する誇りを伝えました。





Toyama-Oregon 25th Anniversary Friendship Delegation



This past April 23 – 28, a delegation led by Mr. Hidetoshi Sunuma, Toyama Prefecture Public Enterprise Administrator, visited Oregon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of sister-state relations. Among the visits made by the delegation were local companies such as Columbia Sportswear, Kokusai Semiconductor Equipment Co., and Ajinomoto Windsor, as well as the Portland Japanese Garden and vineyards at Rex Hill and Domaine Serene. During the delegation’s visit, several exchange projects and ceremonial events were held successfully; here is a brief report on some of the major events during the visit.

Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest
The delegation’s first order business was attending the 20th Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest, held on Sunday, April 24th at the World Trade Center in Portland. The speech contest is a program sponsored by Toyama Prefecture and organized with the cooperation of the Japan-America Society of Oregon. The contest encourages college and university students in their Japanese studies by providing an opportunity for students to hone their language ability and public speaking skills. Representing the Toyama delegation, Public Enterprise Administrator Mr. Sunuma and prefectural assembly member Mr. Seikichi Hienae joined the panel of judges.

IMG_1075Across two different divisions, 16 contestants shared their inspirational and thought inspiring experiences concerning themes of personal challenges, identity, future plans, and more. Toyama delegation members were deeply impressed by the language ability and quality of preparation of each participant. After the judge’s deliberation period, participants were recognized and selected contestants were awarded prizes for their excellent performances. This year’s winners included:

Level 1 (lower division):
1st: Lance Crafton, Willamette University
2nd: Graham Smith, Portland State University
3rd. Kateryne Velazco, Lewis and Clark College

Level 2 (higher division):
1st: Michaela Duffey, Linfield College
2nd: Peilin Linda Miao, University of Oregon
3rd: Alexandra Griffis, University of Oregon

The grand prize winner for this year was Michaela Duffey of Linfield College, who will be receiving an all-expenses-paid trip to Toyama!


After the winners were announced, a small reception was organized for participants, former participants, JASO members and related parties. In attendance was Consul General Kojiro Uchiyama of the Consular Office of Japan in Portland, who congratulated the participants and praised the Toyama-Oregon relationship for remaining active over 25 years.

25th Anniversary Celebration of Toyama-Oregon Friendship

On April 26th, an evening reception was held in the Wells Fargo Center in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of friendship between Toyama Prefecture and the State of Oregon. The event brought together former exchange employees, members of local IMG_1276organizations such as JASO and the Shokookai of Portland, and other friends of Toyama. Starting off the evening, an address was given by Consul General Uchiyama, followed by delegation leader Mr. Sunuma. Representing the state of Oregon was Ms. Kristen Leonard, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, who gave a wonderful toast, followed by a Mr. Hienae, who finished the formalities with a kanpai.
Guests enjoyed music played on the koto while sampling the delicious food, a fusion made with ingredients local to Toyama and Oregon. Toyama favorites such as trout sushi, firefly squid and white shrimp were also available, and Toyama’s locally-brewed sake was available alongside Oregon beer and wine.
It was a very pleasant evening with new meetings and reunions of old friends; long-time Toyama supporters brought out photo albums, and old stories were told, and plenty of laughter was shared. At the end of the evening, Toyama delegation members were left impressed by how the sister-state relationship has touched the lives of so many people. It was an honor and a pleasure for our delegation to play a role in continuing this wonderful friendship!

Donations of the “Toyama Manga Collection”

In celebration of the educational exchange occurring between Toyama and Oregon, Toyama Prefecture donated collections of Toyama manga and books to two educational institutions that partnered with Toyama institutions for exchange programs, the International School of Beaverton, and Portland State University. Each collections contains nearly 200 volumes of manga and books whose authors are from Toyama, or are set in Toyama.

On April 26th, the delegation visited Portland State University, where the donation ceremony was held. Dean Cliff Allen and many faculty members and students of the School of Business Administration greeted the delegation warmly, and after introductions, the presentation ceremony of the Toyama Manga Collection was held. Afterwards, delegation leader Mr. Sunuma gave a short presentation on Toyama and overview of the prefecture’s activities to about 30 graduate students in the program. Students were particularly interested in the prefecture’s system of transferring employees between departments, which is somewhat different from the style seen in the US.
IMG_1228After fielding questions and thanking the students for their attention, we walked through the beautiful campus to the library, built around a venerable old tree. We toured the library and saw the stacks where the Toyama Manga Collection would soon be available for students to peruse. The group was very impressed at the comfortable and functional study areas, the library’s excellent resources, and its overall popularity with students.
Exchange between Portland State University and Toyama picked up last year, when a large group of students from Toyama Prefectural University participated in a short-term study abroad program. English is an important communication tool for Toyama students, and what better place to learn than Oregon, Toyama’s sister state? As some of the business administration students of PSU already know, Japanese language ability may prove to be a very valuable skill as well; as such, the delegation hopes to see continued partnership in education moving forward.

The following day, the delegation paid a visit to the International School of Beaverton, for the donation of the Toyama Manga Collection and a look at how Japanese language education forms part of the school’s culture. The International School of Beaverton officially formed a sister-school relationship with Toyama’s Kosugi High School in 2013, and this year short exchange trips have been held for small groups of students from both schools to visit each other.
IMG_1297Upon arriving at the school, the delegation was greeted by Principal O’Neill, and treated to a welcome performance by the school’s chorus. Afterwards, the official presentation of the manga collection was made, and a reception with tasty cookies was held. Many students of Japanese came to speak with our delegation members, who were happy to have the chance to speak to the students directly. As well, since the school has Spanish and Chinese programs, and a student body with many students from diverse backgrounds, the delegation enjoyed meeting many students and hearing about their experiences.
After the reception, the delegation was able to take a tour of the school, and was even allowed to sit in on the first part of Ms. Mikako West’s Japanese class. We were all very impressed by the student’s abilities and positive, relaxed attitudes toward learning. Later on during the tour, we were shown the library, where manga and books from Toyama will soon be color-coded and stacked alongside books in English, Spanish and Chinese. Some of the students were kind enough to explain their research projects to us, and show us what they were working on. As we left the school to continue with the day’s schedule, we felt inspired by the energy of the kids at the International School of Beaverton. Surely, the books donated by Toyama will be put to good use as the students continue their Japanese studies, and their interactions with their sister school here in Toyama.



2016年4月23日―28日、富山県の須沼公営企業管理者を団長とする訪問団がオレゴン州に派遣され、様々な行事で友好提携25周年を祝いました。コロンビア・スポーツウェア本社やKokusai Semiconductor Equipment Co., 味の素ウィンザー社などの企業見学とともに、ポートランド日本庭園やワイナリーのRex HillとDomaine Sereneも視察しました。様々な会議と記念交流プロジェクトが行われた中から、主なイベントをここで報告します。



レベル1 (学習歴が短い方)
1位 Lance Crafton, Willamette University
2位Graham Smith, Portland State University
3位Kateryne Velazco, Lewis and Clark College

レベル2 (学習歴が長い方)
1位Michaela Duffey, Linfield College
2位Peilin Linda Miao, University of Oregon
3位Alexandra Griffis, University of Oregon

今回の最優秀賞、そして富山県への研修旅行を勝ち取ったのは、Michaela Duffey (Linfield College)さんでした。おめでとうございます!