Toyama-Oregon Sister State Activities Update

Originally written for the Vol.6-No.5 edition (January 21, 2013) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest Winner Visits Toyama

Aleishea Yamaoka and Vera Valieva (winner of Japanese speech contest in Russia) at the historical village of Gokayama
Aleishea Yamaoka and Vera Valieva (winner of Japanese speech contest in Russia) at the historical village of Gokayama

From September 19th to the 24th, Aleishea Yamaoka, the winner of the 2012 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest held in Portland in April, visited Toyama Prefecture as her grand prize.

Aleishea was able to take in many of the famous places in Toyama Prefecture. She traversed the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and witnessed the powerful water release at Kurobe Dam, wandered among the traditional thatched-roof villages of Gokayama, and relaxed with her feet dipped in a natural riverside hot spring in the Kurobe Gorge.

Aleishea and Vera at Mikuriga-ike (Mikuriga Pond) in Tateyama
Aleishea and Vera at Mikuriga-ike (Mikuriga Pond) in Tateyama

Aleishea also greatly enjoyed sampling the unique local foods, including “black ramen,” masu-no-sushi, and especially tofu ice cream!

Now a graduate of Pacific University in Forest Grove, Aleishea is currently in graduate school at Saga University.

Toyama-Oregon Employee Exchange Program

Ichiro Miyazaki with Metro Council President Tom Hughes and Chief of Staff Andy Shaw
Ichiro Miyazaki with Metro Council President Tom Hughes and Chief of Staff Andy Shaw

Mr. Ichiro Miyazaki visited Oregon as an exchange employee from November 5th to November 23rd, 2012. Mr. Miyazaki is currently an associate director of the Tourism Division at the Toyama Prefectural Government, and supervises the Toyama Film Commission. In his 12 working days, he visited such diverse agencies and offices including Oregon Film, Travel Oregon, Travel Portland, the Portland Development Commission, Metro, and Business Oregon, who coordinated the program from the Oregon side.

The visit was very informative and was a way for Toyama Prefecture to learn much about innovative work done in Oregon, but it was also a valuable opportunity for cultivating cultural exchange and strengthening social ties between Oregon and Toyama, and the U.S. and Japan.

We received an outpouring of support from employees of receiving offices, volunteers, and old friends with ties to Toyama. Mr. Miyazaki was even kept busy during evenings and weekends, and was able to attend Blazers games, meet many members of the local Japanese-American community, and of course, enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.

Thank you very much for all of your support. Offices took time out of their busy schedules to receive this visitor from Japan, interpreters worked long hours as volunteers, and Toyama supporters who had never even met Mr. Miyazaki before were proactive in making him feel welcome. We appreciate everything you have done to make this employee exchange visit successful.

Sheridan Japanese School Exchange Teacher Update

Akiko Nakano with students
Akiko Nakano with students

Ms. Akiko Nakano arrived in Oregon on August 28th, 2012. Although she is an English teacher in Toyama, she is currently teaching Japanese language and culture classes at Sheridan Japanese School. Recent cultural activities included introducing to students how New Year’s is celebrated in Japan, and exchanging New Year’s cards.

Ms. Nakano lives with a host family, and she is very thankful for the kindness that her host family has shown her. She has been able to participate in many family activities, including skiing and going Christmas tree cutting! Other parents of the school have also been generous, inviting Ms. Nakano to dinners at their homes.

In addition to her duties at school, Ms. Nakano assists in sister state activities. In December, she attended the Emperor’s Birthday event hosted by the Japanese consulate, and was in charge of the Toyama Prefecture booth. Through these sister state activities, Ms. Nakano has gotten to know many former Oregon State employees invested in the sister state relationship, including many who had spent time in Toyama as exchange employees.

Akiko Nakano with Oregonian friends at Emperor's Birthday event
Akiko Nakano with Oregonian friends at Emperor’s Birthday event

Ms. Nakano says of living in Oregon, “The vineyards are beautiful; the scenery in Oregon is really beautiful. My host family takes me skiing at Mt. Hood. The change in seasons is very lovely, and I feel that it is a great privilege to be living in Oregon.”


Toyama Chef Wins Gold Medal at the Culinary Olympics


Originally written for the Vol.6-No.5 edition (January 21, 2013) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

Tsutomu Momoi, chef at Toyama Jiyukan in Toyama City, received an individual gold medal at the 23rd IKA/Culinary Olympics held in Erfurt, Germany, from October 5th to October 10th, 2012. According to the Toyama office of the All Japan Chefs Association, this was the first ever gold medal for Toyama Prefecture, and the first gold medal in twelve years for Japan.

The Culinary Olympics are held once every four years, and this event is the largest international culinary competition in the world, with a history of over one hundred years. This 2012 event had about 1,500 participants from a total of over 50 countries. In Momoi’s division, 35 individuals prepared and arranged hors d’oeuvres to compete for five gold medals.

The title of Momoi’s submission was “Blessings of the Sea,” which combined seafood and vegetables. Culinary creations such as terrine of Toyama Bay shiroebi (white shrimp), amaebi (sweet shrimp), and squid, black rice risotto, warm Ise ebi (Japanese spiny lobster) and sole mousse with caramelized ris de veau (sweetbread) were carefully arranged on a heart-shaped board. The contrast between the red amaebi and the white shiroebi was eye-catching. The display also included flexible wares from the foundry Nousaku, based in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture, and traditional Japanese paper with cherry blossom print.

Momoi’s distinctive talent is his ability to maximize the flavor and beauty of each raw ingredient. His work is beautiful and unique, and the way Momoi manages to blend innovation and tradition is sure to have captivated the contest judges.

Momoi’s participation in the Culinary Olympics also presented a promotional opportunity for Toyama Prefecture. On Momoi’s display table, there were posters of Toyama sushi and of the Tateyama Mountain Range towering over the Amaharashi Coast. Momoi is certified as a “Toyama Culinary Artisan,” and has excellent knowledge and skills regarding the food of Toyama. Momoi reflected after the event, “Toyama has a lot of world-class ingredients, and I feel grateful every day… I’m happy that I got to meet chefs from around the world, and to promote Japan’s food culture as well as ingredients from Toyama.”

Source (article and image): Toyama Just Now