Toyama-Oregon Sister State Updates

Originally written for the Vol.7-No.2 edition (October 18, 2013) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

2013 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest Winner Visits Toyama

Bryan Takano at the Kurobe Dam
Bryan Takano at the Kurobe Dam

Bryan Takano, winner of the 2013 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest (organized by Toyama Prefecture and the Japan-America Society of Oregon) held in April, visited Toyama Prefecture from July 7 – 11 as his grand prize. Bryan is a current student at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.

This was Bryan’s first time in Toyama, and he visited sightseeing spots such as the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Kurobe Gorge, and the villages of Gokayama. In the high mountains of Tateyama, we were even lucky enough to spot a pair of raicho (rock ptarmigan), the elusive prefectural bird. With Bryan’s interest in art, he also especially enjoyed making his own washi (traditional Japanese paper) in Gokayama and visiting the Great Buddha of Takaoka.

By Bryan Takano
By Bryan Takano

Oregon Tourism Seminar Held in Toyama


On September 10, Greg Eckhart of Travel Oregon, Jeff Hammerly of Travel Portland, and David Penilton of America’s Hub World Tours were in Toyama to give tourism presentations to two different groups: educators working in local schools interested in offering overseas trips, and local travel agents and tour operators.

Among the most memorable points made in these presentations was that Oregon may lack the more typical theme parks sought by tourists, but has “real” amusements such as hiking and skiing on mountains or rafting on rivers. The speakers also shared examples of a few Japanese magazines that featured Oregon to illustrate the state’s increasing appeal and recognition in Japan.

Tim McCabe, Director of Business Oregon, Visits Toyama

(from left) Jun Mokudai (Oregon Japan Representative Office), Vice-Governor Terabayashi, Tim McCabe, Colin Sears
(from left) Jun Mokudai (Oregon Japan Representative Office), Vice-Governor Terabayashi, Tim McCabe, Colin Sears

Tim McCabe, Director of Business Oregon, and Colin Sears, Business Recruitment Officer, paid a visit to Toyama on September 20. On their brief visit, Mr. McCabe and Mr. Sears met with Vice-Governor Satoshi Terabayashi and then visited the Kurotani Corporation headquartered in Imizu City in Toyama Prefecture. The company opened Kurotani North America Inc. in Portland in August 2012.

Mayor Peter Truax Leads Forest Grove Delegation to Nyuzen

Forest Grove Delegation's visit to the Toyama Prefectural Government
Forest Grove delegation’s visit to the Toyama Prefectural Government

Mayor Peter Truax led a delegation of both city officials and community members from Forest Grove, Oregon to Nyuzen Town in Toyama Prefecture. Forest Grove and Nyuzen have been sister cities since 1988. This year, the delegation visit was timed for the 60th anniversary of Nyuzen’s incorporation, and the visitors from Forest Grove participated in the celebrations. During their stay in Toyama Prefecture from September 30 to October 4, the delegation members visited points of interest in Nyuzen such as the Swamp Cedars of Sawasugi as well as surrounding sightseeing areas such as the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Each night was spent with local host families.

The Forest Grove delegation also came out to visit the Toyama Prefectural Government located in Toyama City on October 2. They met with Toshiyuki Hiyoshi, Director-General of the Tourism & Regional Promotion Bureau.

Toyama Exchange Employee Currently in Oregon

Junichi Nakayama, an Assistant Director of the Environmental Policy Division of the Toyama Prefectural Government, has been in Oregon since September 29 for a three-week study period visiting various state agencies and other offices relevant to environmental policy issues. Visits include the Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon State University, spanning many areas of the state including Portland, Salem, Corvallis, and Coos Bay.

We would like to thank everyone involved for their support, especially Business Oregon for arranging appointments and coordinating the program from the Oregon side.

(Update: Mr. Nakayama arrived back in Toyama on Sunday, October 20.)


New Tourist Buses Make Getting to Toyama Destinations Easier for Visitors


Originally written for the Vol.7-No.2 edition (October 18, 2013) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

With an eye toward the opening of the new shinkansen (bullet train) extension to Toyama in spring of 2015, two new tourist buses began operating this month to make sightseeing spots easier to access.

The “Toyama Buri Kani Bus” (“Toyama Yellowtail Crab Bus”) will do one round-trip between Toyama Station and Himi (in western Toyama Prefecture) on weekends and holidays through March. A one-way trip takes 1 hour 25 minutes and costs 1,000 yen. It is also possible to only go as far as Shinminato (35 minutes) for 500 yen.

Himi is well-known for its fish, and the tourist bus arrives at Himi Banyagai, a mall/market with fresh seafood direct from nearby ports as well as sushi, Himi udon, and Himi beef. There is even a hot spring bath and footbath! On the way, bus passengers will pass over the Shinminato Ohashi – the largest cable-stayed bridge on the Japan Sea side of the country – and be able to enjoy views of Toyama Bay and the Sailing Ship Kaiwomaru. And from Amaharashi Coast on a sunny day, visitors can see the Tateyama Mountain Range towering over Toyama Bay.

Those going to Shinminato in Imizu City can walk around the canals of Uchikawa, visit the fish market at Fisherman’s Wharf, and see Hojozu Hachimangu (Shrine). There are also various reservation-only plans for both Himi and Shinminato that include lunch (3,000 to 5,000 yen total) featuring local specialties such as shiroebi (white shrimp), crab, and yellowtail.

The “World Heritage Bus” does four round-trips between Takaoka Station and Shirakawa-go (Ogimachi) in Gifu Prefecture, with stops in the villages of Ainokura and Suganuma within Toyama Prefecture. As with the “Toyama Buri Kani Bus,” the “World Heritage Bus” will also run weekends and holidays through March. Part of the route uses highways, making travel convenient. For example, it will only take 1 hour 15 minutes (1,200 yen one-way) from Takaoka to Suganuma, and 1 hour 55 minutes (1,800 yen one-way) to Shirakawa-go.

 Ainokura is a village of about 20 buildings in gassho-style, with traditional steep, thatched roofs designed for the snowy winters in this region. (Gassho means “hands in prayer,” and the architectural style resembles that shape.) Suganuma is a smaller village of about 9 gassho-style buildings. Both offer beautiful mountain village settings, and it is easy to forget even the passage of time. These historic villages were inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1995.

Another possible stop is Johana, known as the “Little Kyoto of Etchu (the old province before Toyama).”  The traditional streets around Zentokuji Temple are atmospheric, and include a weaving studio and the Johana Hikiyama Museum where you can see festival floats on display all year.

For more information on the “Toyama Buri Kani Bus,” visit the Toyama Chiho Tetsudo website (Japanese only):

For more information on the “World Heritage Bus,” visit the Kaetsuno website (Japanese only):

Source (article and image): Toyama Just Now

Run along an Ancient Trail from a World Heritage Village to a Woodcarvers’ Town


Originally written for the Vol.7-No.2 edition (October 18, 2013) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

Trail running, with its way of allowing runners to sense the dirt and fallen leaves beneath their feet and to challenge themselves on hills, has recently been gaining popularity in Japan.

On October 19 and 20, the Gokayama Doshumichi Trail Running Tour will be held on the historical trail between the temples of Gyotokuji in Gokayama and Zuisenji in Inami, all within Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture. The course is about 30km and runs through mountains roughly 1,000m (3,280 ft.) tall. The event is a preview of the Gokayama Doshumichi Trail Race (tentative name) that will be held in October 2014 as part of the celebration events commemorating the 10th anniversary of Nanto City’s incorporation.

Doshumichi is an old path that is said to have been used for many years by Akao Doshu (1462 – 1516), the founder of Gyotokuji Temple and a disciple of Rennyo, in order to study at Zuisenji Temple. The trail passes through many mountain ridges.

A local group called “Doshumichi-no-kai” researched this road and began maintaining the trail about five years ago, clearing the overgrown path and installing approximately sixty signposts. The Trail Running Tour begins at Gyotokuji, enters the trailhead by the World Heritage Village of Suganuma in Gokayama, runs along mountain ridges, and then arrives in Inami, an area known for its tradition in woodcarving. Along this “backbone of Nanto City” there is a marker for the geographical center of the city. The trail also passes through beautiful beech forests, and if they are lucky, runners will be able to enjoy autumn colors.

On October 19, event participants can participate in a one-hour hike in Gokayama, a lesson on Doshumichi and trail running, and a dinner party. On October 20, runners divide into groups led by guides and run the Doshumichi. Next year’s main event will be a timed race, but this year’s run is not timed.

Visitors also have a variety of sightseeing opportunities. The main gate of Gyotokuji Temple has an unusual thatched roof. The adjacent Doshu Itoku Kan houses treasured items associated with Rennyo and Doshu. Next to Gyotokuji is the Iwase family residence, a 300-year-old house that is the largest gassho-style house in Gokayama and nationally recognized as an Important Cultural Property. Suganuma itself is a very small riverside village of only nine houses, but has two museums and opportunities to taste life in traditional Japan.

Visit the official Gokayama Doshumichi Trail Running Tour website (Japanese only):

Source (article and image): Toyama Just Now