The original version of this article was written for the Vol.5-No.4 edition (May 27, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.
First, I want to share some news with you that is directly related to our sister state relationship! On Sunday, May 15th, the Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest was held in the World Trade Center in downtown Portland. The first speech contest was held in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the relationship between Toyama and Oregon, and this year’s was the 15th speech contest. It is open to students attending colleges and universities in Oregon and Southwest Washington. This year’s winner is Rebecca Coffelt, a junior attending Linfield College in McMinnville. As the grand prize winner, she will be visiting Toyama later this year. Congratulations to Rebecca, and thank you to all of the participants!
I would also like to give you my personal report on the Yuki-no-Otani (Snow Canyon) walk. On May 14th, I went up to Tateyama (or Mt. Tate) on a bus tour with many other foreigners. It was a fun ride up winding hilly roads. Japan usually does not have very tall trees, but on the way to Tateyama, there were forests with nice big trees that reminded me strongly of Oregon, especially of the area near Mt. Jefferson. As much as I knew that I was going on a trip to see walls of snow, it was still a shock to see all the green trees give way to a landscape of white snow. It was a warm spring day at the base of the mountain, but it was mid-winter by the time we reached the Yuki-no-Otani. The temperature was below freezing, and it was actually snowing! We braved the weather though, and walked through the snow canyon. At the highest point, the wall of snow was 16 meters (52 1/2 ft.) tall. As advertised, it did make the buses look small!